6 Wacky Misunderstandings at the Scene of Grisly Crimes

Law enforcement has to be a grueling, stressful and hugely underappreciated job. But you have to admit, those guys wind up with the best stories to tell at parties.

So while at your job a "hilarious misunderstanding" consists of accidentally emailing some porn to your supervisor, cops wind up with stories such as ...

#6. The Pittsburgh Hotel Massacre

Wiki Commons

The Scene:

When firefighters were summoned to a blaze in the George Washington Hotel in 2010, they had no idea what they were in for when they broke down the door of a long-abandoned room at the end of a hallway. The room looked like Jackson Pollock had hit it with a paint brush and a bucket of blood. There were bottles of alcohol strewn about and a chunk of scalp on the floor, presumably the result of a drunken hotel massacre the likes of which made the Overlook Hotel look like a Best Western. The police were immediately called to the scene.


At the time, Police Chief J.R. Blyth, the man in charge of the investigation, described the discovery as "the most grisly murder scene in my 35 years in law enforcement."

The room was taped off and a team of investigators was called in. They logged a total of eight hours of overtime before Chief Blyth came to the realization that something was amiss.

They were dealing with the unthinkable aftermath of a Corey Haim project.

And, in a way, aren't we all?

Wait, what?

It turned out they'd all just stumbled upon the two-year-old leftover set of the straight-to-DVD horror movie New Terminal Hotel starring Haim. Apparently, the movie was pretty goddamned gory.

Really, every aspect of Corey Haim's career looked something like this.

The hotel's owner, Kyrk Pyros, had decided to leave the room untouched in case the crew ever had to come back for re-shoots, although you would think that after two freaking years, he would have at least had someone run a Dustbuster through it. Presumably for Mr. Kyros, that leftover movie set was the equivalent of a tender kiss on the cheek from Haim that he vowed he'd never wash off.

To be fair to the investigators, the George Washington Hotel doesn't have the best of reputations to begin with, considering the 12 deaths that have occurred on its premises since 1923 and the local rumors of it being haunted. Then there was the fire. So, all in all, the gruesome discovery of a murder scene would actually be pretty standard for the George Washington Hotel.

This is essentially their equivalent to a continental breakfast.

#5. The Junior Detectives


The Scene:

CSI and its many imitators have had a stupefying impact on high schools, universities and naive youths everywhere, with thousands of students around the world having become convinced that a major in forensic science will one day have them running around from crime scene to crime scene like Gil Grissom in a frenzied, high-octane, arrest-making whirlwind of badassery. Though other kids are just in it for the beard, and the chance to bang Sara Sidle.

Or a chance to bang the beard.

In 2006, teacher Sue Messenger's high school criminology class -- a class devoted to teaching kids the reality of crime scene processing -- went on a mock crime scene investigation set up by Messenger at Ft. Lauderdale's Holiday Park. All went according to plan, just as it had for the 20 years that Messenger had been teaching the class -- fake blood-splattered weapons hidden in the bushes, "bullet-ridden" cardboard skeletons, OJ-inspired planted leather gloves, shell casings that had nothing to do with the London Police ... and the rotting corpse of a dead man.

"Ms. Messenger, is this guy going to be on the final?"

Wait, what?

In the kind of coincidence that lends credence to Voltaire's notion of God as a hilarious comedian, Ms. Messenger's mock CSI field trip stumbled across a real dead body.

All was, indeed, going according to plan, until a boy named Josh Rosenthal noticed a hand protruding from beneath an industrial air conditioning unit. Though the hand and the body attached to it presumably looked a little more convincing than a paper-mache classroom prop, Rosenthal just assumed that the body was a dummy and that the entire thing was a joke, as did the rest of the class -- at least up until the point that the real crime scene investigators arrived and brought an early end to the field trip, presumably handcuffing Rosenthal as a person of interest in another hard lesson in functions that real-life crime scene investigators don't perform.

"Seriously, it's like 95 percent bullshit."

The man, who was determined to have died of natural causes, was never identified, constituting yet another myth-busting bomb in the blitzkrieg of hard realities that came raining down upon the students' heads that day -- positive matches aren't always made. As Rosenthal said of his sobering discovery after the incident: "It turns you onto it because it's helping the community. It turns you off of it because it's, like, disturbing."

Rosenthal would later abandon his dreams of owning a funeral home when he learned they are "like, filled with dead people, man."

#4. The London Gunfight That Wasn't

Danny Robinson

The Scene:

For days, gunshots had been ringing out in Heygate Estates, in South London. It seemed as though anarchy had really, truly, finally broken out in the U.K., and a few concerned citizens were uneasy about it. So the police were called one morning after a particularly pitched exchange. Cops rushed to the scene, where they found 1,700 empty shell cases littered about the street.

One officer brought up the utter lack of bullet holes in the surrounding buildings, but he was ruled a "buzzkill."

What was missing from the scene was any bullet-riddled bodies, but hey, maybe a team of Russian assassins were trying to take out the real-life James Bond, and he sped away on a jet ski.

They took the shell casings back for examination to try to get to the bottom of this new, oddly bloodless war that was raging on the streets of their city. Then they found out that they had actually given permission for it.

Wait, what?

Forensics came back and said the brass casings had all come from blank rounds. The cops, as it turned out, had just investigated the scene of an action movie.

If any movie without Steven Seagal can really be called an "action" movie.

London police had actually given Foxtrot Entertainment the go ahead to shoot their gangster film The Veteran right there in the neighborhood, and even had officers present for three of the days they were filming. For an entity highly trained in the art of connecting dots and making challenging investigative links, you'd think that someone from the police force would have been able to trace the shell casings back to the copy of the fucking shooting permit sitting on the sergeant's desk before the forensic technicians had to be brought into the picture. Especially since all of those fake gunshots had been fired under the supervision of the very same police who would come back to the scene the next day having somehow completely forgotten about the entire thing.

And then to top it all off, the cops actually threatened to charge the production company for wasting their time.

It took Scotland Yard a week to determine this wasn't bonus behind-the-scene footage of a self-immolation snuff film.

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