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6 Creepy Urban Legends That Happen to be True (Part 3!)

#3.
The Chainsaw Suicide

The Legend:

This one has gotten bounced around in "news of the weird" columns for decades, with the variation that the guy either saws off his own head on a bet, or as an accident, or as the most incredibly gruesome (and honestly kind of awesome) form of suicide possible.

But honestly, is this even physically possible?

The Truth:

Apparently so.

David Phyall, a 50-year-old British man, really really didn't want to leave his apartment block, which was set to be demolished. Alternative accommodations were offered to him 11 times, but David just wasn't taking. One by one, all his neighbors moved out, leaving him the sole holdout rattling around in a condemned apartment building all on his own.

Something had to give and it turned out that something was going to be David's vertebrae. See, he had a plan that was definitely going to cost him his safety deposit, and make a hell of a chore for the cleaning staff. David tied a chainsaw to the leg of a table, laid down with his neck against it, set the saw on a 15-minute timer, then took a stiff drink.

David's plan, and head, went off without a hitch.


Phyall's apartment block. We're thinking maybe he overreacted a little.

A superior asked the police Sergeant that found David if discovering the body was a shock to him. "In some ways it was sir," replied the Sergeant reportedly.

He was promptly fined by the British police for being too bloody excitable and not showing proper stiff upper-lippishness in the line of duty.

#2.
Shrunken Heads

The Legend:

Head shrinking has been the subject of legend, jokes and old Looney Tunes sight gags for ages, but the practice couldn't actually be real, could it? It's just one more bit of bullshit white people made up about folks a shade darker than them, right? Well...

The Truth:

Head shrinking was in fact a real thing, practiced mainly by tribes located around the Amazon River basin. For those looking to throw the perfect head shrinking party, here's the recipe:

Make a cut on the back of the head, then painstakingly peel all the skin and flesh from the skull. Sew the eyes and mouth shut, then boil the flesh up good, dry it with hot rocks, then mold it back into a head-like shape. Viola! A handy miniature version of the guy you nailed with that arrow last week! While head shrinking was real, it was quite rare even amongst the tribes that practiced it, that is until collecting shrunken heads became the Pogs of the late 19th century. The shrunken head trade actually became big business, with numerous South American and Polynesian tribes (most of whom never shrunk heads in the first place) going to war with one another just to collect heads.

In a tactic that was amazingly dickish even by white people's extraordinarily low standards when it came to dealing with natives, traders would give the tribes guns in exchange for the shrunken heads, ensuring a steady supply of new product.


Pictured: A large collection of shrunken heads and one horrible human being.

The sale of shrunken heads continued in the United States for years until it was finally officially outlawed sometime in the 1940s. Yes, as late of the 40s people still thought it was cool to trade human face jerky. By the way, wondering what price was put on a human life back then? How about 25 bucks a pop?

#1.
The Body Farm

The Legend:

There are tales of isolated patches of land, covered with unburied corpses. Some of them posed, or even stuffed in car trunks, all rotting in the midday sun. Is there a serial killer on the loose? Has the gravediggers' union gone on strike again?

The Truth:

It's real, and it's completely legal.

You won't see much mention of this on CSI since it would take away from the usual 30-minutes devoted to David Caruso putting on and/or removing his sunglasses, but body farms are becoming an increasingly important tool for forensic scientists. These patches of land have bodies scattered over them by scientists so they can study how bodies decay under a variety of conditions.

Think checking out the local body farm sounds like a fun weekend excursion? Well if you live around Knoxville, Tennessee; San Marcos, Texas; or Cullowhee, North Carolina, you're in luck, because that's where the country's three body farms are located.

The one found in Knoxville is the oldest and most elaborate, covering two and a half acres and containing 40 to 50 bodies at any one time. If there's not one near you yet, just wait, as scientists are looking to start new body farms faster than Wal-Mart opens new stores, with some hoping for a future with a body farm in every state.

Please enjoy this video of a kindly, grandfatherly type showing off his collection of molding cadavers and discussing wearing human skin gloves.

Nathan Birch also writes the always disgustingly cute webcomic Zoology.

Do you have something funny to say about a random topic? You could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow. Go here and find out how to create a Topic Page.

With Halloween right around the corner, allow us to show you some costumes to avoid in 20 Costumes That Will Earn You a Halloween Beating and The 30 Most Unsettling German Halloween Costumes.

And stop by our Top Picks to see our shrunken head collection (provided by our interns).

And don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get dick jokes sent straight to your news feed.

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