Scoff if you must at the idea of spontaneous human combustion, the evidence in favor of the phenomenon is out there -- just ask 65-year-old Danny Vanzandt of Muldrow of Oklahoma. Oh wait, you can't! Because Danny Muldrow spontaneously combusted, that's why. Seriously, there's no other explanation for his death. According to Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart, when officers found Muldrow, "the body was burned and it was incinerated," but strangely, "there was no damage to the furniture or anything around the fire." An autopsy ruled out the possibility of homicide, and while Muldrow was a smoker, Lockhart says there's no way an accidental cigarette burn could incinerate a human body. So what's left? Spontaneous combustion (maybe), says Lockhart:
"I think there's only about 200 cases worldwide [of spontaneous human combustion] and I'm not saying this happened. I'm just saying that we haven't ruled it out."
Nor should they, considering Muldrow's case shows all the trademark signs shared by most suspected spontaneous human combustions:
Victims are almost completely incinerated, though certain extremities -- often parts of the legs, feet, and/or hands -- sometimes remain intact (rarely, internal organs are left untouched, even as the outsides of the body are completely burned!).
Victims are found in rooms showing no signs of a fire except for an occasional "greasy residue" on walls or a small area of scorched carpet or floor directly under the body.
As for what causes spontaneous human combustion, no one knows -- but theories abound, from a build-up of methane gas in the intestines to a build-up of static electricity inside the body to tiny explosions caused by a sub-atomic particle known as a pyroton.
Other recent, notable, suspected spontaneous combustions include that of 76-year-old Michael Faherty, who burned to death in his home in Ireland in a fire that had no apparent cause AND only damaged the ceiling above him and the floor beneath him -- as well as an unidentified man who allegedly burst into flames watching porn in a San Francisco sex shop (he survived).
No comment on that last one.
Do you believe in spontaneous human combustion?
Image via zoutedrop/Flickr
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