Real life horror: Matawan, New Jersey


insert jaws theme music here.

(Rerun here, because it’s the hundredth anniversary of these attacks.)

I’m profiling a different sort of killer today: the shark (or sharks) responsible for the Matawan Creek attacks in 1916.

It started on July 1, 1916, when 23-year-old Charles Van Sant arrived in Beach Haven, New Jersey. Eager to escape the heat, the vacationing Philadelphian dove into the Atlantic Ocean. He was about fifty feet from shore when other swimmers noticed a large shadow following him. He never heard their warning cries. The shadow pulled him under. A few moments later, the area where he’d been turned red.

Alexander Ott, a former Olympic swimmer, raced to Van Sant’s rescue. Ignoring the injured man’s attacker, Ott found Van Sant, pulled him up to the surface, and then to shore. Van Sant’s legs were mangled. He bled to death on the beach.

If this had happened today, it’d…

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Real life horror: Charles Whitman

Today is the 50th anniversary of the shootings, so here is a re-blog of a post I did back in 2012.


August 1, 1966. Austin, Texas.

It’s hot today, brutally so, but despite that, you’re wearing coveralls over your street clothes and lugging a dolly loaded with a Marine Corps footlocker up three short flights of steps. At least you were able to take an elevator up the first twenty-seven floors.

You reach the twenty-eighth, the observation deck of the Tower. There’s a receptionist sitting at her desk in the lobby. She notices you, but you look like a janitor, so she dismisses you. Keeps her back to you while you open your footlocker and take out one of the rifles you packed earlier that morning. Maybe it’s the .35-caliber Remington. Or the 6mm Remington with the scope. Or the .30-caliber M1 carbine.

Whichever one it is, you use the butt of it to bash in the back of her head. Twice. She’s still alive when you drag her behind of the…

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James Dean’s car . . . of DEATH!!!

Repeat! Hey, I did write that I would post something soon.


live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse. done!

The first victim of the James Dean Death Car was Dean himself.

On September 30, 1955, thirteen (ooooh! spooksville!) days after filming an announcement for the National Highway Safety Committee wherein he advocated safe driving, Dean’s 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, which he’d named “Little Bastard” in honor of his own nickname, was hit by a 1950 Ford Custom Tudor coupe driven by Donald Turnupspeed.

Yep, the dude’s last name really was Turnupspeed.

The accident occurred at the intersection of Routes 41 and 466 near San Robles, California; Turnupspeed made a left-hand turn across the highway and plowed into the Porsche. According to Turnupspeed, he never saw the low, sleek silver car. Dean’s mechanic, Rolf Wuetherich, was thrown clear, but Dean was pinned inside the wreckage. He suffered a broken neck, plus other injuries, and died en route to San Robles War…

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The Buddy Holly Curse


I don’t think you could definitely say that there is a curse associated with 1950s rock-n-roller Buddy Holly; you could probably safely karaoke “Peggy Sue” or “That’ll Be the Day” and not wind up dead the next day. (Note the  definitely and probably. Those adverbs clear me of any liability if you sing any of his songs and get stabbed by a crazed karaoke hater.) However, there have been a number of unfortunate incidents associated with Holly, so let’s sprinkle a ring of salt around us and get started, shall we?

I suppose some background is in order. Buddy Holly was born Charles Holley, on September 7, 1936, in Lubbock, Texas. I spent almost two years in Lubbock. It’s dusty, windy, and full of dirt. There’s a Buddy Holly statue in a park, and you can see his grave in, uh, a graveyard. Buddy was his longtime nickname; Decca Records, who first…

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