10.The Murdered Girls
In Birmingham, England, a 20-year-old woman returned from a dance with a friend on the evening of May 27. After parting ways with her companion, the young woman never reached home.
The next morning, she was discovered—assaulted and murdered—in Erdington Park. Although a man named Thornton was charged with the crime, he was acquitted. The murder was never solved.
The young victim’s name was Mary Ashford, and the story took place in 1817. And . . . again in 1974 with a victim named Barbara Forrest. These two girls met their fates 157 years apart under bizarrely similar circumstances. Neither of their killers was ever brought to justice.
9.The Inhuman Invader
Doctors at a hospital in Medellin, Colombia, were presented with a patient who was in bad shape. The 41-year-old man was HIV-positive and off his medication, was having breathing problems, and was dealing with a tapeworm infection.
Tumors on his lungs indicated that the breathing trouble was likely due to previously undetected cancer, but there was something odd about the tumors. As one of the man’s doctors put it, “It looked like cancer, but the tumors were composed of cells that were not human.”
The tumors—which had attacked the man’s lungs, liver, and adrenal glands—were confirmed by DNA testing to be composed of tapeworm cells. Apparently, the man’s compromised immune system had allowed a nonhuman, invertebrate form of cancer to take hold in his body.
Doctors were unsure how to approach treatment, but they never got the chance to try. Within 72 hours of his bizarre diagnosis, the patient was dead.
University of Kentucky physicians were similarly perplexed by a 67-year-old patient who was experiencing disquieting symptoms. Although she had no history of dementia or mental problems, she had been seeing things hovering around her all the time. Specifically, faces . . . terrifying, disembodied, elongated faces with huge eyes and teeth.
Understandably afraid that she might be losing her mind, the woman was almost relieved to receive a diagnosis of Charles Bonnet syndrome, which occurs in patients with rapidly deteriorating vision. Accustomed to constant input, the brains of patients with this condition simply make up their own input to replace whatever is missing.
The resulting hallucinations are usually more benign, such as flashes of color or small animals. In this woman’s case, the bloodcurdling visions became less frequent once she was diagnosed.