Bizarre Death: George Plantagenet

George Plantagenet was the 1st Duke of Clarence, the 1st Earl of Salisbury, the 1st Earl of Warwick, the brother of King Edward IV and the brother of King Richard III, who became king of England after George's death. His royal status did not save him from death. In fact, it was the very reason for his death.

George was found guilty of treason when his brother King Edward IV suspected him of vying for the throne. Like other treasonous royals before him, he was held in the Tower of London until his execution. It is not this macabre, yet interesting, path to death that makes George Plantagenet's death bizarre. It is the rumors that sprung up around his death that make the story so strange.

George Plantagenet was led to his death on February 18, 1478. The typical means of demise for executed royals was public beheading. In some cases, it was a private execution, as it was in George's case. After his death, it was suspected that he was not beheaded at all. An exhumation of the body supposed to be his reportedly turned up his head intact, though there is much speculation about whether the body belonged to him or not. Whether or not it was his body, it is believed that George Plantagenet was killed by forced drowning in a vat of wine -- Malmsey wine, to be precise.

Shakespeare's play Richard III about George's brother, who came to the throne later, holds to this rumor. The character of Plantagenet is drowned in wine. Because his manner of death was never verified, there is still the possibility that the rumors are true and Shakespeare's play is accurate in that regard.

The London Monster

The story of the London Monster is a similar story to that of our recent post on that of the Halifax Slasher. It is the story of an alleged attacker who stalked women at night and attacked them with sharp objects. On top of that, the stories are similar in that the attackers were never caught, may not have existed or may have only been responsible for very few of the crimes to which they were attributed. However, in the case of the London Monster, it is also very possible that an attacker existed and very few of the alleged attacks were hoaxes. Given the early attacks and the extent of some of the victims' injuries, it is fair to say that something nefarious was afoot in London between 1788 and 1790.

The London Monster's M.O. was reportedly to sneak up on women at night and stab them in their derrieres whilst swearing at them. Of course, descriptions of individual attacks differ. However, the bottom line was assaulting good-looking women with knives. This in and of itself is not suspicious in the sense that it seems made up. This is well within the known realm of criminal activity. In fact, the very act described has its own name -- piquerism. Therefore, there is some likelihood that there was a piquerist in London around the time of the London Monster attacks. Nonetheless, things did get suspicious over time.

As expected, there was something of a panic in London. Innocent men took great pains not to appear shady, as there was some hysteria that had the potential to turn violent. Then, there were the women who faked attacks. It does not get much more bizarre than taking what was a frightening situation and turning it into a bid for attention. Because at least one woman later admitted to faking an attack, the entire situation is hardly taken seriously in modern times. Unlike Jack the Ripper, the London Monster has something of a reputation as a hoax. His crimes were not as severe, but it is possible that he stabbed innocent women in the street. That is serious enough to warrant investigation. However, the investigation itself was botched by the hysteria.

A man by the name of Rhynwick Williams was found guilty of three attacks and given six years in prison, despite the fact that most of the evidence was ridiculous, he had alibis for confirmed attacks and one of the witnesses admitted to lying. Oh, and there was also the monetary reward motivation on the part of his accused. Williams was able to get a retrial but it did not work out in his favor. The hysteria won out. More attacks occurred while he was in prison but it is unknown whether it was the real attacker or more hoaxes.

Bizarre Hoaxes: The Halifax Slasher

The Halifax Slasher was an alleged attacker who caused panic in Halifax, Nova Scotia in November of 1938. This person was said to roam the streets attacking mostly women but also a few men with blunt objects and sharp blades. The mention of blades is what led to the man's nickname the Halifax Slasher. The problem with this story is that it was likely concocted. In fact, much of it is known to have been concocted.

The trouble began on November 16, 1938 when Gertrude watts and Mary Gledhill alleged that they were attacked. The said their attacker -- a man -- had a mallet. The only other identifying feature was bright buckles on the man's shoes. The next "victim" was Mary Sutcliffe. She said that the man carried a blade when he attacked her on November 21. More people came out over the next few days. What was bizarre was the public reaction and subsequent hoaxes that followed the alleged initial attacks.

Not long after the three women claimed they were attacked, the town went a little crazy. Citizens hunted for the Halifax Slasher, often coming up with innocent men. Beatings took place and more people came forward saying they had been attacked. The local police called in Scotland Yard for help. In the end, the conclusion was more bizarre than the alleged crimes. A man stalking women in the streets is sadly far from unusual. A town gone crazy and individuals pretending to have been attacked to perpetuate the hysteria is significantly more unusual.

On November 29, a man said he was attacked but later admitted that he lied. The man even harmed himself to make it look like he had been attacked. The investigation turned up a number of these hoaxes and the Halifax Slasher was declared a combination of hysteria and distasteful lies. The people who were found guilty of lying about the attacks were penalized.

Bizarre Animals: Pinocchio Frog

The Pinocchio frog is an interesting little creature with a nose not unlike that of Eva Ernst in "The Witches." It is a small tree frog species with a wiggly piece of flesh at the end of its snout. Paul Oliver, who could find no other specimens at the time of discovery, found it. The area in New Guinea in which it was found boasted a number of other previously unknown species. No one knows for sure why this little dangler exists on the Pinocchio frog's face, though it probably has something to do with reproduction. Most weird appendages do. There are very few pictures available of this little guy. Click here to see one on National Geographic. As soon as more is known about this frog, we will try to post something on That is Bizarre.