Whatever your fundamental ideological differences with your fellow man, there are two things you both probably agree on: History is full of all sorts of weird shit, and murdering is generally frowned upon. So, friends, put aside your petty arguments about which cartoon pony is the worst, and frolic with me through these stories of historical, murderous strangeness.
Wait, did I say "frolic"? I meant "lose fucking sleep over these creepy tales of murderous mayhem through the ages."
5The Drowning Of Ludwig II
"The Mad King" Ludwig II of Bavaria was to eccentrics what a Ferrari is to a 1986 Yugo: technically the same thing, but with so much more power that it's not even funny anymore. He very nearly bankrupted his country thanks to his tendency to build insane fairytale castles, and his attitude toward even the most mundane things in life ranked at roughly 7.4 on the Richter Pride Parade Flamboyancy Scale. By 1886, the 40-year-old king had nigh depleted the nation's funds with swan boats and real-life versions of Disney castles, so he was gently declared insane, removed from power, and steered from rampant landscape pimping to playing with the era's equivalent of a Duplo set.
Three days later, he was found dead in a lake near Munich.
It was immediately obvious to everyone with common sense that the shenanigan quantity of the situation blatantly exceeded the recommended limits. The water in the lake was hardly waist deep, and Ludwig had been an excellent swimmer. Also, there was the small matter of the other dead dude beside him; it was the king's physician, Dr. Gudden, whose corpse had marks and bruises that seemed a whole lot like someone had strangled him. Ludwig's remains, on the other hand, seemed completely untouched.
For whatever reason.
So the officials pondered the situation for a while, then shrugged and listed the cause of death as drowning, because what the hell else are you going to do with a dead 19th-century ex-king? Carry out a proper investigation or something?
There was just one minor hiccup: Ludwig II had no water in his lungs at all. The king and the doctor had also forbidden Ludwig's aides from following them as they wandered off to do whatever it is that got them killed. Furthermore, Ludwig had gone on record several times stating that he wished to become an eternal enigma to both himself and others.
Aaand that's pretty much what we've got. Oh, there are tons of legends and theories -- head to the comment section and chances are you'll find at least half a dozen. Some say it was an elaborate suicide, created solely to fuck with the world that had stripped Ludwig of his power (presumably, the good doctor would have assisted with the suicide and got promptly strangled by the dying king for his troubles). There's another faction that insists the king was attempting to escape his handlers with help of loyalists and got murdered during the attempt, which would also make sense but doesn't answer certain fairly important questions, such as how? And by whom?
"Mermaid babies got 'em. Case closed!"
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
Dude was shot, presumably by the orders of the people who removed him from power. Yep, despite zero tangible evidence pointing toward gunfire of any kind. Back in 2007, a 60-year-old German man came forward with the story that 50 years ago he and his mother met one Countess Josephine von Wrba-Kaunitz, who over coffee and cakes decided to show her assorted guests her most prized possession: the coat Ludwig was wearing when he died.
A coat with two distinct bullet holes in the back.
Now, it just so happens that the coat has since been lost in a fire, and unless the authorities decide to exhume a king's body over some random dude's 50-year-old story, there is a giant cloud of eau du bullshit wafting around this particular theory. It's just that I can't help thinking: Which story sounds more likely -- that literally the most famous person in the country at the time managed to off himself in a way that no one was able to figure out? Or that he was unceremoniously assassinated and the coroner took care not to notice the bullet holes because it's generally not a good idea to piss off powerful people who just killed a fucking king?
Yeah, that's what I thought.
4The Witchcraft Death Of Charles Walton
Here are the facts in the strange case of Charles Walton: On Feb. 14, 1945, the 74-year-old Mr. Walton was tending a hedge with his trusty pitchfork and a trouncing hook. Later that day, he was found with that very same hedge and tools, but in a radically different situation: The trouncing hook was now in his throat, and he had been pinned to the ground with the pitchfork. A large cross had been carved on his chest.
Here is the rest of the story, which is pretty much all we have beyond those few lines of nasty fact: witchcraft witchcraft witchcraft aaaargh!!!
"Aaaaargh! Wait, shit, you're talking about me?"
No, seriously. Plenty of people are certain that Walton's murder was a ritual sacrifice, and witches and general sorcery were intimately involved in the proceedings. Who precisely was the witch in this story and why the murder took place have as many answers as there are assholes, though. The most popular theory suggests that Walton himself was dabbling in witchcraft (it's an equal-opportunity business), because of his general eccentricity, keen eye for natural phenomena, and a way with animals, none of which could in any way have been direct results of 74 freaking years living on the countryside. This would have meant that his killer was acting out of desperation; this particular method of mayhem was supposedly a ritual that was meant to kill the witch who had cursed someone and thus remove the curse. Or maybe it was the other way around, and some occultist had killed him to gain his powers or whatever.
Oh, and then there's the theory about vengeful ghosts. Let's not forget the theory about vengeful ghosts. Apparently, an investigation turned up a secret sorcery book that revealed that 60 years earlier a boy called Charles Walton had seen ghosts and experienced various horrors in the same area after being plagued by demon dogs and foreboding spirits. Does ... does this mean Walton II was killed by Walton I's ghost? Were they the same person? If so, are there some strange third-party ghosts involved? How does the hell dog factor in? Can it hold a pitchfork?
Verdict: a resounding yes.
Whatever the true reason may be (the Devil? Legend says it had been roaming the hill in the past), the murder remains unsolved. And, presumably, by now you can ask about it a hundred nights in a row at the local pub and walk out with 200 different answers to the mystery.
Pauli's Favorite Theory:
Vengeful ghosts. Yeah, let's go with vengeful ghosts. With a case like this, that's actually the least insane explanation.
Well, that, or it might just have been Walton's employer, who had been boozing up at the local pub and was incidentally the last man to see the victim alive. But that would be just crazy.