Freaky Coincidences of the First Order …

June 23, 2009

Do you believe in coincidence? Yes? How about when one coincidence happens after another? Possible, you say? How about a string of coincidences happening all in the same time frame? Okay, I have tormented you enough.

My dad recently sent me a forward (it was widely circulated, so many of you may have come across it.) At an awards dinner in his honour,the former President of American Academy of Forensic Science, Dr Don Harper Mills, recollected a puzzling case. Presented below is the case :

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. The decedent had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide.

He left a note to that 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 decedent was aware that a safety net had been installed just below at 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 said, “a person 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. Mr. Opus was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below at street level, but his suicide attempt probably would not have been successful because of the safety net. This caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.

The room on the ninth floor from whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They 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. They both said they thought the shotgun was unloaded. The old man said it was his 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, 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.

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 both the loss of his financial support and 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 had actually murdered himself, so the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

What are the odds that the above story could be true? An occasional coincidence or two can happen but coincidences happening at this rate? I needed to check if it was really true so I went to Snopes.com (which was featured in Reader’s Digest as the rumour detectives) Their findings says Dr Don Harper Mills does indeed exist and he did talk about this bizarre tale at the awards dinner. However, it was a figment of his imagination which he came up with to elucidate legalities of forensic science. Despite mentioning that it was a hypothetical story, it got widely circulated as a true happening!  And to top it all – if you google Dr Don Harper Mills, you will find more of rumour mill links. I am left wondering if Dr Mills a fabrication too.

Do write in with your thoughts.

PS: For those of you who are wondering, yes I am really jobless with lots of time of my hands and an idle mind to occupy – so what can you expect? 😀

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20 Responses to “Freaky Coincidences of the First Order …”

  1. Tastemaster said

    hey.. sorry for the delay.. finally blogrolled you.. will do the tag thing later.. don’t spend much time online these days.. maybe over the weekend.. thanks for the tag anyway.. 🙂

  2. First off …. noone in this world is jobless(according to me) ….not every job (read: task on hand) needs to have a commercial return …it is all about whether you enjoy what you do ….I am sure if asked, a lot of us will claim we are truly jobless since, we do not consider what we do as what we want to do ….lol … how about that for a coincidence of confusion…another coincidence (warning: immature) is that my Mom and Dad got married on the same day …. your blog is your blog…so post anything and everything you like …. I am still to squeeze out some “tame” to post another article..till then will make do with comments ..sorry to hog up so much space….

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      Hmm it isn’t everyday you get to meet a person whose Mom and Dad got married on the same day. Lucky you!! – You had me in splits there. 😀 Oh don’t apologize for hogging up the comment space. The readers would get some entertainment on days like these when all I write is crap!! I hope you find your “tame” soon because I am running out of your past posts to read…

  3. ajcl said

    whoa never read this forward before.. true or not made for some great read.. and really freaky.. on a serious note.. sometimes these coincidences drive me crazy .. life is weirder than fiction is my take on it.. and please do not think about being jobless and all that.. u r doing an extremely awesome job of running this blog..

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      Yeah .. crazy world we live in .. whenever I get forwards, I take it with a pinch of salt but this one deserved a more serious research .. and me (the one with lot time on her hands) thought to check it out .. 🙂

  4. Ramesh said

    ROFL on blogueur’s coincidence of his mother and father being married on the same day. Hee ho ho.

    Nice story that got the eyebrows going up and down. Jobless ? Perish the thought. Can there be a more important “job” than blogging ??

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      Yep, his comments are like tadka to my post. Of course you and Aparna are dessert material … sweet and all things nice! 🙂 I love being “jobless” you know!!

  5. manchitra said

    I too got that forward and its unbelievable.whole thing is just a story
    I just want to tell you another coincidence me and my hubby got married on the same day ,same mandap and we live in the same house( what a joke) .
    keep bloging your hands would be full and we simply love your posts(me and sonu)what a coincidence.

  6. thethoughtfultrain said

    Thanks so much Chitramausi .. Looks like miy post has attracted a lot of victims of coincidence. 😀

  7. How thoughtful of you to call me my posts “tadka” ….the goodies which get thrown into the hot oil while AJCL and Ramesh are the much sought after desserts …but you know what …I shall burn and spew out more of my nonsensical flavor …. I second and third everything Ramesh and Aparna said …Operation Jobless Thought Demolition !!

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      Yep …. I think tadka is too mild a word for you… I would go with a roaring flambe’ !! 🙂

  8. lol …..I am waiting for your next post …. be prepared to attend to a “hole” in your console near the comments section …

  9. Just call me 'A' said

    it would make an interesting Law and Order episode 🙂

    • thethoughtfultrain said

      Now that you mention it, when I was researching on Snopes, they said several references of this was made in many crime dramas and one of the movies featured this story as a snippet.

  10. Preethy said

    How spooky! Thanks for sharing .Its the first time i’ve read it ,very interesting. Weirder things have happened in this world ,so you never know. Keep posting , never think yourself jobless, you are doing a fantastic job writing .. dont give up this hobby of yours ..LOL

  11. Just call me 'A' said

    I posted on this too…yesterday..cannot see it now 😦

  12. thethoughtfultrain said

    Thanks so much Peethukka … You remember the dream I had about visiting London? I wrote about it in Walks and Strange events … 😉

  13. theishu said

    This is a good one. I had read this years ago, but my memory of the details was a bit sketchy. So I fully enjoyed reading it for the second time.

    Thanks 🙂

  14. thethoughtfultrain said

    Thanks Theishu … 🙂

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