Forensic pathologist says ‘manhole’ murder was the worst thing she’s ever seen
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It goes without saying: all murders are grim. They're always going to be tough to look at, but there are some deaths that are so gruesome that even forensic pathologists struggle to comprehend them.
And considering death is literally their job, that's really saying something.
One forensic pathologist, Dr Judy Melinek, recalled the worst thing she'd ever seen on the job when she appeared for a Q&A with mortician Caitlin Doughty, who advocates for more meaningful conversations around death and dying.
Dr Melinek, who had been on the job for years at that point, called to mind a case involving two men who got into a fight one night after going out drinking.
Doughty, who later recalled Dr Melinek's story for a YouTube video, said one of the men started beating up the other because he thought he was flirting with his girlfriend.
"He starts beating him up and throws him into an open manhole," she recalled.
That move alone sounds like the start of a horror movie, but what the perpetrator probably didn't know was that there was a broken water main nearby which had caused the manhole to fill with boiling water.
"When emergency services arrived, the man was still alive, reaching up and screaming for help," Doughty said. "They couldn't get him out for another three hours."
When rescuers were finally able to get the man out of the hole, they took his temperature and got a reading of 51°C. For reference, your normal body temperature is approximately 37°C.
The man was clearly very, very hot, but Doughty noted that he might have had an even a higher temperature than the thermometer said, as the reading had maxed-out.
Unfortunately he didn't survive the ordeal, and when doctors conducted his autopsy they found that the man's organs had 'literally cooked'.
"He had been boiled alive," Doughty said.
So that's the worst thing the forensic pathologist had seen, but what's actually the worst way to die?
Well, Doughty believes it's an ancient Persian method called 'scaphing', which involves being stripped naked before being put 'between two hollowed-out logs with your head and limbs sticking out'.
"Then they pour honey all over you and force you to ingest honey which attracts insects," she said. "Then they leave you in a stagnate pond to be slowly eaten - but they come back every day to forcibly feed you more milk and honey so you don't die right away."
How's that for a painful death?
We thankfully don't have to worry about being subject to scaphing much these days, but we should definitely avoid being thrown into any manhole covers.