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 ...
The Pittsburgh Hotel Massacre
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?
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.
The Junior Detectives
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?"
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."
The London Gunfight That Wasn't
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.
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.
The Showering Murderer
When a long-haired and bearded man walked into Alexandria's Racquetball Plus Fitness Center dripping with blood, it didn't take long for the police to be called to the scene. The center's employees were terrified -- the man had simply strolled right in and headed straight for the showers, presumably to rinse the sweet taste of an ax murder off his body.
"Do you have Dr. Bronner's?"
A SWAT team surrounded the club and officers were sent in to question the staff, who were likely finding all sorts of different ways to say the phrase "Sweet tapdancing Jesus, that man is covered in blood."
It turned out it actually was sweet tapdancing Jesus. Local man Lee Backhaus had just played Jesus in Zion Lutheran Church's annual Easter Passion Drama, and had simply needed to wash away the fake blood he had accumulated after a hard day of hitting the stations.
This whole situation just screams "light beer ad."
It turned out that Backhaus was not only a card-carrying member of the club, but had actually warned the club's staff well in advance that he'd be there that day, bloody and terrifying, to use the club's showers. The staff had simply forgotten, presumably having been trained by the London Police (see Pg. 1). Though to be fair, that would be an awesome way to get away with a murder. Plan it for right after your passion play, then stroll right to the showers and wash the DNA away. "Don't worry, everybody! It's just me, Jesus, washing off the fake blood from my crown of thorns and this here chainsaw."
The Police Pizza Party
When police officers in Hertford, U.K., arrived on the scene where it was suspected that three gangsters were torturing and holding a man hostage, they had a surprise in store for them. Word on the street was that the local drug kingpin, known only as "CJ," had sent his cronies over to the man's house to convince him to stop moving in on CJ's turf. But when the officers entered the home, it was empty -- not a drug-trafficking soul in sight.
"That's right, sir. The only evidence of torture we've found is an abnormally large Coldplay collection."
Then, in a scene straight out of a sitcom, the doorbell rang and a Domino's Pizza delivery man stood in the doorway, seemingly as the result of a mistaken address.
"Sure, take the pizza. Just, uh, don't check my pockets."
The cops knew a good opportunity when they saw one, offering to buy the pizza from the guy at a reduced rate. Everyone was happy -- the delivery man got a tip, the cops got a killer deal and, in celebration, proceeded to hold an all out pizza party. Problem was, it wasn't just pizza they were eating.
As it turns out, there had been three gangsters torturing a man just before the cops arrived -- three gangsters who had ordered a pizza.
This, seriously, is one of those gangsters, who looks like he could eat the shit out of some pizza.
The victim had escaped through a window when the gangsters weren't looking, which at least proves that the cops weren't the only ones dabbling in incompetence that day. The gangsters fled, presumably to either try and catch him or to vacate the premises before the authorities were called. The police arrived and were then followed by the delivery man; all of them presumably acting under the direction of a metaphysical improv comedy act.
Eventually, when the gangsters were apprehended and the pizza partying police officers were called in to testify, the lead prosecutor on the case was actually forced to utter the words "... it came to light that the officers had eaten the evidence," constituting perhaps the most shameful sentence ever spoken in investigative history.
"And we pay you people?"
The CSI Surprise
Kay Fab of Vienna, Virginia pulled up one night to the sight of yellow crime scene tape wrapped around her home. Strewn about in the shadows were a severed arm, a foot and some kind of weapon. Looking to the house, she saw human forms hovering in the windows. When she noticed the dark figure of a man lurking in the back of the garage, she came to the reasonable conclusion that she should probably jump back in her car and drive to the nearest police station.
"Nope, nothing amiss h- hey, wait a second! That card had a "2" on it when I left!"
When she returned to the scene, police officer in tow, a man came running out of the house. All the lights clicked on, and a bunch of people screamed, "Surprise!"
In yet another example of faux-CSI fuckery, the night in question was Kay Fab's birthday, and Kay just so happened to be a CSI super fan. So her husband, Joe Fab, decided to throw her a CSI surprise party so terrifyingly realistic that it's amazing the cop didn't spray him with bullets when he came running out of the garage.
"Don't shoot! We have ice cream!"
But that was not the case. Kay and Joe Fab (who sound like a 90s pop duo recently reunited on VH1) apologized to the police for wasting their time, and promptly got down and partied hard all night. In the morning, Kay went straight to the police station with a huge box of donuts just to make amends, because if you want to apologize to the police, you give them donuts without an ounce of irony.