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Jokes/Interweb Things Thread, Strange But True in Fun Stuff; Do you like to read a good murder mystery? Not even Law and Order would attempt to capture this mess. ...
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    Gatt's Avatar
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    Strange But True

    Do you like to read a good murder mystery? Not even Law and Order would attempt to capture this mess. This is an unbelievable twist of fate!!!!

    At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science, AAFS President Dr Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story:

    On March 23, 1994....... the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus, and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. Mr Opus had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide...
    -----
    He left a note to the effect indicating his despondency. As he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety net had been installed just below the eighth floor level to protect some building workers and that Ronald Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned.
    -----
    "Ordinarily, " Dr Mills continued, "Someone who sets out to commit suicide
    and ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he
    intended, is still defined as committing suicide." That Mr Opus was shot on the way to certain death, but probably would not have been successful because of the safety net, caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.
    -----
    The room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. T hey were arguing vigorously, and he was threatening her with a shotgun! The man was so upset that when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and the pellets went through
    the window, striking Mr Opus. When one intends to kill subject "A" but kills subject "B" in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B."
    -----
    When confronted with the murder charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant, and both said that they thought the shotgun was not loaded. The old man said it was a long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her. Therefore the killing
    of Mr Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, assuming the gun had been accidentally loaded.
    ----
    The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal accident.
    ----
    It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother.
    ----
    Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder even though he didn't actually pull the trigger. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.
    -----
    Now comes the exquisite twist... Further investigation revealed that the
    son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder. This led him to jump off the ten-story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window.
    -----
    The son, Ronald Opus, had actually murdered himself. So the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

    A true story from Associated Press, (Reported by Kurt Westerville)

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    ahuxham's Avatar
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    Very clever indeed, now -- Where's the CSI or Law and Order episode! I want investigations and court room drama about this, would make an exciting episode indeed!

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    It's waaay too early to be trying to understand that tangle... my brain hurts now! Good story though.

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    The bizarre death of Ronald Opus-Fiction!

    snopes.com: Ronald Opus Suicide


    Origins: This Falling man amazing tale appeared on the Internet in August 1994. Prized both for the entertaining logic problem it presents as well as the morally just surprise ending, even years later it remains a cyber-favorite and continues to be forwarded to ever-widening circles of netizens.

    A story this good should be true. Alas, it's not. There never was a suicidal Ronald Opus, a feuding, shotgun-wielding older couple, or an increasingly confused medical examiner trying to get to the bottom of things. But there is some truth to it, for there is a Don Harper Mills, and he did tell this very story at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

    Here's how Mills explained his involvement with the story in a 1997 interview:
    I made up the story in 1987 to present at the meeting, for entertainment and to illustrate how if you alter a few small facts you greatly alter the legal consequences. In 1994 someone copied it on to the Internet. I was told it had already garnered 200,000 enquiries on the Net. In the past two years I've had around 400 telephone calls about it - librarians, journalists, law students, even law professors wanting to incorporate it into text books.
    It was hypothetical; just a story made up to illustrate a point. It's hard to imagine anyone at that 1987 meeting took it for anything
    else.

    How did a 1987 illustrative anecdote morph into 1994's believed-to-be-true story? We'll likely never know. How did Dr. Mills come to concoct such a tale? As he said in a 1997 interview, "Some of it I wrote out, and some of it I invented as I went along."

    Ronald Opus never lived. And his death will never die.

    In 1998 we began seeing versions attributed "A true story from Associated Press, by Kurt Westervelt." If that venerable wire service employs a writer by that name, we've yet to see anything under his byline. As for AP itself having run the Opus story, no, it never did.

    Barbara "levity longevity" Mikkelson

    Sightings: This amusing hypothetical case showed up in the 16 January 1998 episode of the TV series Homicide and is also said to have been mentioned in an episode of the TV show Law & Order, but in the latter case District Attorney Ben Stone merely offered a hypothetical example of a man who jumped off the Empire State Building because he wanted a ham sandwich and was shot on the way down by someone who thought he was committing suicide. A 1998 episode of the Australian TV show Murder Call also featured this legend, and it pops up early in the 1999 film Magnolia.

    Last updated: 20 January 2007

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    I suspected it was an urban legend, but Snopes spoils everything. What happened to the days when we were allowed myth and legend?

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    Myth and legend still make the internet what it is today:

    "Microsoft are going to close all Hotmail accounts, but if you tell fourteen other contacts they'll send you a thousand dollars instead!!!11!!"

    (disclaimer: this is true as confirmed by the ACME Press Association and the Microsoft UK Email Lotto)

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    ahuxham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    Myth and legend still make the internet what it is today:

    "Microsoft are going to close all Hotmail accounts, but if you tell fourteen other contacts they'll send you a thousand dollars instead!!!11!!"

    (disclaimer: this is true as confirmed by the ACME Press Association and the Microsoft UK Email Lotto)
    I believe you

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