In the explanation of coincidence there is much of laziness, and helplessness, and response to an instinctive fear that scientific dogma will be endangered. It is a tag, or a label: but of course every tag, or label, fits well enough at times. A while ago, I noted a case of detectives who were searching for a glass-eyed man named Jackson. A Jackson, with a glass eye, was arrested in Boston. But he was not the Jackson they wanted, and pretty soon they got their glass-eyed Jackson, in Philadelphia. I never developed anything out of this item — such as that, if there's a Murphy with a hare lip, in Chicago, there must be another hare-lipped Murphy somewhere else. It would be a comforting idea to optimists, who think that ours is a balanced existence: all that I report is that I haven't confirmed it.
But the body of a girl, and the body of a crow —
And, going over files of newspapers, I came upon this:
The body of a woman, found in the River Dee, near the town of Eccleston (London Daily Express, June 12, 1911). And nearby was found the body of another woman. One of these women was a resident of Eccleston: the other was a visitor from the Isle of Man. They had been unknown to each other. About ten o'clock, morning of June 10th, they had gone out from houses in opposite parts of the town.
New York American, Oct. 20, 1929 — "Two bodies found in desert mystery." In the Coachella desert, near Indio, California, had been found two dead men, about 100 yards apart. One had been a resident of Coachella, but the other was not identified. "Authorities believe there was no connection between the two deaths."
In the New York Herald, Nov. 26, 1911, there is an account of the hanging of three men, for the murder of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, on Greenberry Hill, London. The names of the murderers were Green, Berry, and Hill. It does seem that this was only a matter of chance. Still, it may have been no coincidence, but a savage pun mixed with murder. New York Sun, Oct. 7, 1930 — arm of William Lumsden, of Roslyn, Washington, crushed under a tractor. He was the third person, in three generations, in his family, to lose a left arm. This was coincidence, or I shall have to come out, accepting that there may be "curses" on families. But, near the beginning of a book, I don't like to come out so definitely. And we're getting away from our subject, which is Bodies.
"Unexplained drownings in Douglas Harbor, Isle of Man," In the London Daily News, Aug. 19, 1910, it was said that the bodies of a young man and of a girl had been found in the harbor. They were known as a "young couple," and their drowning would be understandable in terms of a common emotion, were it not that also there was a body of a middle-aged man "not known in any way connected with them."
London Daily Chronicle, Sept. 10, 1924 — "Near Saltdean, Sussex, Mr. F. Pender, with two passengers in his sidecar, collided with a post, and all were seriously injured.(8) In a field, by the side of the road, was found the body of a Rodwell shepherd, named Funnell, who had no known relation with the accident."
An occurrence of the 14th of June, 1931, is told of, in the Homes News (Bronx) of the 15th.(9) "When Policeman Talbot, of the E. 126th St. station, went into Mt. Morris Park, at 10 a.m., yesterday, to awaken a man apparently asleep on a bench near the 124th St. gate, he found the man dead. Dr. Patterson, of Harlem Hospital, said that death had probably been caused by heart trouble." New York Sun, June 15 — that soon after the finding of this body on the bench, another dead man was found on a bench near by.
I have two stories, which resemble the foregoing stories, but I should like to have them considered together.
In November, 1888 (St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Dec. 20, 1888) two residents of Birmingham, Alabama, were murdered, and their bodies were found in the woods. "Then there was such a new mystery that these murder-mysteries were being overlooked." In the woods, near Birmingham, was found a third body. But this was the body of a stranger. "The body lies unidentified at the undertaker's rooms. No one who had seen it can remember having seen the man in life, and identification seems impossible. The dead man was evidently in good circumstances, if not wealthy, and what he could have been doing at the spot where his body was found is a mystery. Several persons who have seen the body are of the opinion that the man was a foreigner. Anyway he was an entire stranger in this vicinity, and his coming must have been as mysterious as his death."
I noted these circumstances, simply as a mystery. But when a situation repeats, I notice with my livelier interest. This situation is of local murders, and the appearance of the corpse of a stranger, who had not been a tramp.
Philadelphia Public Ledger, Feb. 4, 1892 — murder near Johnstown, Pa. — a man and his wife, named Kring, had been butchered, and their bodies had been burned. Then, in the woods, near Johnstown, the corpse of a stranger was found. The body was well-dressed, but could not be identified. Another body was found — "well-dressed man, who bore no means of identification."
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