September 28, 2016
Beset by credit card debts, John Darwin decided to fake his own death in a canoe accident so he and his wife could cash in on his life insurance. At first his wife Ann said she thought he had really died. But after living rough for a few weeks, he turned up dirty, smelly and disheveled at his home. Ann took him in, cleaned him up and agreed to hide him while collecting a widow's pension and awaiting the inquest and the insurance payout. He lived in a bedsit next door to their large house and secretly lived as husband and wife
They never told their two grown-up sons that their father was alive and living next door.
The former doctor's receptionist also knew her husband was alive and well when she cashed in a life insurance policy for £25,000 and had their £130,000 mortgage paid off by another life policy.
Today, she tells how she and her husband made a last-ditch attempt to save their skin — and the awful consequences for their children . . .
'My most wicked betrayal': Canoe wife Anne Darwin reveals her regret over putting her beloved sons through the agony of accusing her in court after she tried to save her skin by pleading not guilty to her crimes
Both were convicted of fraud. John Darwin served six years and 3 months while Ann Darwin served 6 years and 6 months.
Her book Out of My Depth will be published October 6. She has divorced her husband who is married again and living in the Philippines. She has also reconciled with her children.
So you think you can fake your own death? Some Dos and Don'ts by Elizabeth Greenwood is the author of Playing Dead, A Journey Through the World of Death Fraud
Don’t subscribe to conventional wisdom:
Don’t get too creative
Don’t Google yourself
Do change your light bulbs
Don’t assume a fake identity
Do keep near enough the truth
September 17, 2016
"Deep, dark family secret"
The perils of DNA testing is that all sorts of things will be revealed.
When Bill Griffeth’s cousin asked him to take a DNA test a few years ago, he never would have guessed that his life would be changed forever.
Griffeth is a TV news anchor on CNBC, and he serves as a Trustee of the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston, so he understood why his cousin enjoyed researching their family history: he loves genealogy, too.
But nothing in his career as a veteran professional journalist or amateur genealogist prepared him for what that DNA test revealed: the results showed that his father was not his biological father.
Griffeth was shocked. All sorts of thoughts raced through his head: Could his mother have had an affair? No way. Perhaps the test results were wrong.
“My life wasn’t altered by an act of God. Instead, it was changed by the revelation of a deep dark family secret that, like a time bomb, had been ticking my whole life,” Griffeth writes in his new book, “The Stranger in My Genes,” a gripping memoir that chronicles the aftermath of learning this news, his search for his biological father, and the impact it had upon him and his family.
September 12, 2016
Four Final Fish
U.S. Navy Veteran Connie Willhite was taking a turn for the worst in his battle with cancer. A patient of the Carl Vinson VA Medical Center in Dublin, Georgia, he had two final wishes before the cancer took his life: To be baptized and to catch one more fish.
His family organized the baptism. Greg Senters, his hospice social worker, organized the last fishing trip Willhite would ever take.
Senters supplied the bait and the gear and they set off to the nearby pond located behind the VA Medical Center. Given Willhite's grave condition, the staff wasn't sure he'd be able to catch a fish, but they wanted to give him an opportunity to try.
He caught four fish from his hospital bed.
While he was catching those fish, Willhite's face lit up and he was truly at peace.
"All of a sudden, the cancer and everything else went away," Senters said. "What you see is that precious few moments of someone really enjoying life."
"The waves get higher and higher, and eventually, they carry the person out to sea.”
In the Atlantic, What It Feels Like to Die
“Do you want to know what will happen as your body starts shutting down?”
My mother and I sat across from the hospice nurse in my parents’ Colorado home. It was 2005, and my mother had reached the end of treatments for metastatic breast cancer. A month or two earlier, she’d been able to take the dog for daily walks in the mountains and travel to Australia with my father. Now, she was weak, exhausted from the disease and chemotherapy and pain medication.
My mother had been the one to decide, with her doctor’s blessing, to stop pursuing the dwindling chemo options, and she had been the one to ask her doctor to call hospice. Still, we weren’t prepared for the nurse’s question. My mother and I exchanged glances, a little shocked. But what we felt most was a sense of relief.
What does dying feel like? Despite a growing body of research about death, the actual, physical experience of dying—the last few days or moments—remains shrouded in mystery. Medicine is just beginning to peek beyond the horizon.
For those who do die gradually, there’s often a final, rapid slide that happens in roughly the last few days of life—a phase known as “active dying.” During this time, Hallenbeck writes in Palliative Care Perspectives, his guide to palliative care for physicians, people tend to lose their senses and desires in a certain order. “First hunger and then thirst are lost. Speech is lost next, followed by vision. The last senses to go are usually hearing and touch.”
“As the brain begins to change and start to die, different parts become excited, and one of the parts that becomes excited is the visual system,” Hovda explains. “And so that’s where people begin to see light.”
This half-dreaming, half-waking state is common in dying people. In fact, researchers led by Christopher Kerr at a hospice center outside Buffalo, New York, conducted a study of dying people’s dreams. Most of the patients interviewed, 88 percent, had at least one dream or vision. And those dreams usually felt different to them from normal dreams. For one thing, the dreams seemed clearer, more real. The “patients’ pre-death dreams were frequently so intense that the dream carried into wakefulness and the dying often experienced them as waking reality,” the researchers write in the Journal of Palliative Medicine.
Seventy-two percent of the patients dreamed about reuniting with people who had already died. Fifty-nine percent said they dreamed about getting ready to travel somewhere. Twenty-eight percent dreamed about meaningful experiences in the past. (Patients were interviewed every day, so the same people often reported dreams about multiple subjects.)
For most of the patients, the dreams were comforting and positive. The researchers say the dreams often helped decrease the fear of death. “The predominant quality of pre-death dreams/visions was a sense of personal meaning, which frequently carried emotional significance for the patient,” they report.
“It’s like a storm coming in,” Hallenbeck says. “The waves started coming up. But you can never say, well, when did the waves start coming up? … The waves get higher and higher, and eventually, they carry the person out to sea.”
September 8, 2016
"'For about 60 years her path was one of mercy and blessing; on it she prospered."
An ancient obituary for a woman who died 1,700 years ago has finally been translated, revealing her name, faith and good character.
The iPad-sized limestone epitaph is believed to have originated in Egypt, and has sat in a library in a university library collection in Utah since it was donated in 1989.
According to Dr Lincoln Blumell, a researcher in ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, the inscription commemorates a woman called Helene. It pays respect to a woman who loved orphaned children and who died around the aged of 60.
But what makes the memorial unique is the description of her faith. While the woman is identified as a Jew, she is given the title ‘Ama’, which experts say is almost exclusively reserved for Christians. ‘I’ve looked at hundreds of ancient Jewish epitaphs, and there is nothing quite like this,’ said Dr Blumell.
The full translated inscription reads: ‘In peace and blessing Ama Helene, a Jew, who loves the orphans, [died]. 'For about 60 years her path was one of mercy and blessing; on it she prospered.’
Showmen’s Rest is a mass burial of clowns, trapeze artists, and other circus performers. The wandering families of entertainers were members of the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus. They worked together, lived together, and sadly in 1918, they perished together in one of the worst train wrecks in history.
At 4 a.m. on June 22, 1918, the train carrying performers and support crew for the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus stopped just outside the town of Hammond, Indiana to cool an overheated axle box. The passengers were sound asleep as the flagman set out down the tracks on foot to lay out flares at an appropriate distance to warn oncoming trains.
They slept soundly as another train headed their way with the railroad engineer asleep at the wheel.
A Mass Burial Was Established And Became Known As ‘Showmen’s Rest’
The Showmen’s League of America purchased a 750-plot, corner section of the Woodland Cemetery. A mass grave was dug right there in Forest Park, Illinois for the victims of the tragedy. There are five elephant statues marking the boundary, their lowered trunks symbolize mourning. They serve as monuments to their lives in the circus and their dedication to ‘the show.’
Headstones Of Stage Names
Because many performers only went by their stage names and some of the remains were unidentifiable, etched in the headstones are names like “Smiley,” “Four Horse Driver,” or “Unknown Female #43
September 5, 2016
Meaning and purpose in hospice
Morrie Boogart isn’t letting anything stand in his way of helping those less fortunate – even the skin cancer that’s put him in hospice care. The 91-year-old of Grandville, Michigan has knitted over 8,000 hats for the homeless during the last 15 years. Even though he spends his days fighting the cancer and a growth on his kidney, Morrie never stops stitching. “Why do I do it? It just makes me feel good.” Boogart told WXMI. “This has been the best thing that’s happened to me because I just stay in my room.” The crates of caps are to be delivered to homeless shelters throughout Grand Rapids in October.
'We knew in our heart that he was alive'
David Sneddon of Brigham Young University disappeared in Yunnan Province aged 24, in what Chinese police said was probably a hiking accident. Chinese police said he probably died hiking but his body was never found.
But the reality, according to Choi Sung-yong, head of South Korea's Abductees' Family Union, is that he was kidnapped to be an English tutor to Kim Jong Un, the then-heir to North Korea Yahoo News Japan reported Wednesday.
Sneddon is now living in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, where he teaches English to children and has a wife and two children, Choi said.
The news comes as relief - but little surprise - to Sneddon's parents, Roy and Kathleen, who have long doubted the official story of their son's disappearance. 'We just knew in our heart that he was alive, so we had to keep fighting,' said Kathleen Sneddon.
David's parents believe their son was targeted because of his fluency in Korean, which he used while serving on a Mormon mission in South Korea
There's something about frugal New Englanders
Ronald Read always lived frugally – which is why his family was astonished to discover that the former JC Penny janitor and gas station attendant had saved an $8 million fortune.
Read had owned 95 stocks before he passed away, including big names such as Dow Chemical, General Electric, JP Morgan Chase, and CVS Health. Favoring paper and ink rather than modern phone apps, Read had kept stacks of his investment certificates locked in a safe deposit box for decades.
When the 92-year-old Brattleboro, Vermont resident passed away in June 2014, he had bequeathed $1.2 million of his savings to the Brooks Memorial Library where he frequented, and $4.8 million to the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital where he had an English muffin with peanut butter and coffee every morning.
In New Hampshire. Longtime UNH librarian leaves $4 million to school
Robert Morin worked nearly 50 years at the University of New Hampshire library and never seemed to spend any money. He lived alone, rarely bought clothes, had Fritos and soda for breakfast, drove a 1992 Plymouth, and spent spare time reading almost every book — in chronological order — that had been published in the United States from 1930 to 1938.
Now, more than a year after his death at age 77, a lifetime of frugality has become UNH’s unexpected gift: Morin left his alma mater his entire estate of $4 million — a gold-plated nest egg that few people knew he had.
“His whole life was the library,” said Edward Mullen, Morin’s longtime financial adviser.
"You never make her wait. She is his mother."
How to Tell a Mother Her Child Is Dead by Naomi Rosenberg
First you get your coat. I don’t care if you don’t remember where you left it, you find it. If there was a lot of blood you ask someone to go quickly to the basement to get you a new set of scrubs. You put on your coat and you go into the bathroom. You look in the mirror and you say it. You use the mother’s name and you use her child’s name. You may not adjust this part in any way.
I will show you: If it were my mother you would say, “Mrs. Rosenberg. I have terrible, terrible news. Naomi died today.” You say it out loud until you can say it clearly and loudly. How loudly? Loudly enough. If it takes you fewer than five tries you are rushing it and you will not do it right. You take your time.
After the bathroom you do nothing before you go to her. You don’t make a phone call, you do not talk to the medical student, you do not put in an order. You never make her wait. She is his mother.
August 30, 2016
The last days of a hiker lost on the Appalachian Trail
She disappeared from the Appalachian Trail in July 2013. But it took more than 2 years before her body was discovered in October 2015. Lost for at least 19 days in the Maine wilderness, the 66-year-old died as she had lived: with courage and with grace.
Kathryn Miles tells the story of the last days of Gerry Largay in the Boston Globe ‘When you find my body’
She tore a page from her journal. “When you find my body,” she wrote, “please call my husband George . . . and my daughter Kerry. It will be the greatest kindness for them to know that I am dead and where you found me — no matter how many years from now. Please find it in your heart to mail the contents of this bag to one of them.”
Geraldine Largay survived at least 19 days in the Maine wilderness. George and his kids had always held out hope that, through some miracle, she still might be alive. If it had to be true that she was really gone, they at least wished for a quick death. “It was exactly the opposite,” George says. “That was gut-wrenching. I knew she was one tough cookie; I just didn’t realize how tough she was.”
EVEN IN HER FINAL DAYS, Gerry Largay worried about what might hurt or inconvenience her family. At her campsite, she had chopped up her credit card and buried the pieces so that no one could exploit it. She kept her driver’s license so that it would be easy to identify her. She neatly stacked her pots and pans and sealed the journal she’d been keeping in a waterproof bag, along with the instructions, George please read. XOXO. She folded her glasses and placed them into a storage pocket on her tent. Then she tucked herself into her sleeping bag for the last time.
In her journal, Gerry wrote that she wanted her family to know she was sorry — that no hike was more important than them. She wrote each of them a long letter, putting into words her gratitude for all they had shared and offering thoughts about how they could move forward.
“They are more than love letters,” George explains. “They are life letters.”
My deepest love to you, Gerry wrote in one of the last of them. And to all my friends. I pray to see you all in heaven.