According to researcher Kaeli Swift of the University of Washington's Avian Conservation Laboratory, crows hold "funerals." When they see a corpse of their own kind they gather together and squawk loudly. To determine what they may be doing, Swift displayed a taxidermied dead crow to other crows. On some days though, she wore a creepy mask and wig. After multiple experiments with and without her disguise or the dead bird, the crows appeared to remember "the experience with the mask and dead crow and now connected the area with danger." From Deep Look:
And here’s what Swift said makes that really interesting: These new mobs (she encountered even weeks later) contained crows that had never seen the masked Swift with the dead crow. But they still learned to avoid the masked figure.
Learning directly from each other, rather than through individual experience, is called social learning.
“By participating in these funerals, crows can get information about new dangers without taking the risk,” Swift said.
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In November, 1970, just outside the Norwegian town of Bergen, two kids found the partially burnt remains of a woman's body. Surrounding the woman's remains were a number of objects: some bottles of water, a rubber boot and a burnt newspaper. All of the labels had been removed from the woman's clothing. Why the woman – known in Norway as the Isdal Woman, named for the remote valley that she was found in – died or who she was has been a mystery for close to 50 years.
Norwegian journalist Marit Higraff and BBC documentary maker Neil McCarthy are working to shed light on the Isdal Woman's very, very cold case. Working together, they've produced a new podcast called Death in Ice Valley. The first episode is available to download or stream, right now.
During the course of the podcast, Higraff and McCarthy will talk to those that investigated the crime back in the day, as well as forensic experts and anyone else they feel might propel them towards the answer of who the Isdal Woman was and why she died. But they're not stopping there. Listeners of the podcast are invited to talk to one another and the podcast's producers about the case on social media, in the hope that a breakthrough for the case could be crowdsourced.
I listened to the first episode yesterday. It starts slow, as many BBC radio productions often do. But the questions that the pair of journalists raise surrounding the Isdal Woman's death and what they uncovered, even in the first episode, has compelled me to continue with the series to see how things turn out. Read the rest
The Auschwitz Memorial Archives preserves 38,916 photos of registered prisoners: 31,969 photos of men & 6,947 photos of women. These photographs were taken from the first quarter of 1941 until spring 1943. In total, 400,000 people were registered as prisoners of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. The math on this suggests that we've got photos of less than 10% of the prisoners that were held, murdered, or, if they were very lucky, survived the camp. The lives of each and every one of these individuals deserves to be honored. In collaboration with photo restoration and colorization specialist Marina Amaral and the Auschwitz Memorial Museum, I'm working on a project that aims to do exactly that.
Faces of Auschwitz is a project that will tell the story of each of the 38,916 registered prisoners that we have photos of, based on what records of their lives we have. Each week, we'll talk about the story of another prisoner of Auschwitz. Some will have survived. A few managed to escape. Most of those we profile will have died behind the barbed wire perimeter of the concentration camp. Marina's talents in photo restoration and colorization will breathe new life into the fading pictures of prisoners, bringing their faces into the modern era, while at the same time, ensuring that the colors used in the process are historically accurate.
While the Auschwitz Concentration Camp is infamously known for its role in Nazi Germany's plans to eradicate European Jewry, other groups were also tortured and senselessly murdered inside the camp’s walls as well: members of Poland's leadership, intellectuals, clergy and resistance activists, Sinti & Roma, Soviet POWs, Jehovah witnesses and homosexuals. Read the rest
As a child in 1942, Mireille Knoll escaped the capture of Jews by police in occupied France during The Vélodrome d'Hiver roundup. The majority of those arrested during the roundup were sent to Auschwitz, where they were killed. Her evasion of France's Nazi puppet police force during the second world war allowed her to survive the horrors of the Holocaust, unlike so many of her neighbors and relations. But she couldn't escape racism. Her time on earth came to an end this past week after she was stabbed 11 times and left to die in her burning apartment, in Paris, France. She was 85 years old.
According to the The Washington Post, Knoll's murder has French journalists and Jewish advocacy groups concerned that, given the area and brutality in which her life was ended, there could be reasonable grounds for the murder to be considered a hate crime. As in North America, Anti-Semitic hate crimes have been on the rise in France. In the past year, bigots and fascists who were once too afraid to show their hate in public have made their way into the mainstream, emboldened by the politics of our times.
From the Washington Post:
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Jewish advocacy groups were quick to put the case within the context of rising anti-Semitism in France and to point out the similarities to another high-profile case being investigated as anti-Semitic: the April 2017 killing of Sarah Halimi, a 66-year-old Orthodox Jewish physician and kindergarten teacher who was beaten in her apartment and then thrown out a window.
Last year, photographer Jim Young visited murder scenes and memorials in Chicago and documented what he saw with an instant camera. Last year, there were 650 murders in the area with 90 percent of them involving guns. Enough. “Though most of the [memorials] are gone,” Young says, “their photographs will be forever, and I hope memories [of the victims] will be, too.” See the series at FOTO: "Behind the Bullets"
On Sept. 21, Manuel Hernandez was in a car when a minivan pulled up beside him. Someone in that van opened fire, killing the 30-year-old father of two girls. Pictured: the shattered glass of a nearby restaurant, hit by a stray bullet.
Twin sisters Addison and Makayla Henning loved riding their bikes. They were just shy of 6 years old when their mother, Celisa Henning, shot them in a murder-suicide on Aug. 31, 2017. The twins’ grandmother said Celisa Henning had suffered health issues resulting from a car crash in 2015.
Damien Santoyo, 14, was killed by shots fired from a car while he stood on the steps of an apartment with two other boys on Aug. 6. His killers had reportedly yelled gang slogans as they drove by, but relatives said Santoyo was not involved in any gang activity. A football player in junior high school, he was weeks from beginning high school.
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Sandra Louise Garner, 55, of Maypearl, Texas, was arrested this week for allegedly murdering her husband, Jon Garner.
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Charles Manson, the infamous cult leader whose followers killed 9 people in 1969, died today at age 83.
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On September 6, 1949, Howard Unruh murdered 13 people in downtown Philadelphia. It's considered the first mass shooting in US history. Tragically, it wasn't the last. From a 2015 article about Unruh in Smithsonian:
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In a few hours, on the morning of Tuesday, September 6, Unruh would embark upon his “Walk of Death,” murdering 13 people and wounding three others in a 20-minute rampage before being hauled off by police after a dangerous firefight. A somewhat forgotten man outside of criminology circles and local old-timers, Unruh was an early chapter in the tragically-all-too-familiar American story of an angry man with a gun, inflicting carnage...
“There have been notorious killers since America was founded, but you didn’t have the mass shooting phenomenon before Unruh’s time because people didn’t have access to semi-automatic weaponry,” says Harold Schechter, a true crime novelist who has written about infamous murderers going back to the 19th-century.
While the terminology is a bit fungible, Unruh is generally regarded as the first of the “lone wolf” type of modern mass murderers, the template for the school and workplace shooters who have dominated the coverage of the more than 1,000 victims since 2013. Unruh was a distinctive personality type, one that has also come to define those who have followed in his bloody footsteps.
“Unruh really matches the mass murder profile. He had a rigid temperament, an inability to accept frustration or people not treating him as well as he wanted, and a feeling of isolation, all things people accept and move on from,” says Katherine Ramsland, a professor of forensic psychology and the director of the master of arts in criminal justice at DeSales University, as well as the author of some 60 nonfiction books including Inside the Mind of Mass Murderers: Why They Kill.
Privacy International interviewed 57 sources for their report on the link between surveillance and torture and murder in Kenya, including 32 law enforcement, military or intelligence officers with direct firsthand knowledge of the programs. Read the rest
After two homeless men were murdered in Las Vegas by the same method, cops put out a bait mannequin that looked like a homeless man sleeping under a blanket. During the stakeout, Shane Shindler began beating the mannequin with a hammer similar to the weapon used in the other deaths. Read the rest
Megan Rosenbloom at Lapham's Quarterly delves into anthropodermic bibliopegy, the strange history of books bound in human skin, like this pocket book created in 1829 from murderer William Burke of the Burke and Hare murders. Read the rest
UK-based NGO Global Witness reports that at least 185 environmental activists were murdered last year around the globe, and two-thirds of those were in Latin America. According to the report: Read the rest
On Monday night, 19 year old Austin Kelly Harrouff of Florida went homicidally berserk for reasons yet unknown. He stabbed to death a random couple twice his age, also attacking a neighbor who tried to intervene. Then Austin began biting the dead man's face off.
Horrible new details are out today. When Austin's frightened mom called 911 to report his erratic, menacing behavior with family, she told the emergency dispatcher that her son was wearing a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” hat when he wandered off into the night ranting about being a superhero. And in a YouTube video uploaded before the attack, he spoke to the camera about bodybuilding and steroids, and of taking “a lot of shrooms.”
A person familiar with the family gave reporters two snapchats Austin sent out hours before the attack. The snapchats show him making faces for the camera with the words "Trump" and "the horse" captioning the images. Read the rest
A very bad man in Maine is charged with a very weird murder. Prosecutors say Bruce Akers used a machete to try and decapitate a neighbor (is "nearly decapitating" worse? because that's what happened), then buried the victim's remains together with the partially decomposed carcasses of deer he killed previously.
Yep. Read the rest
When Purdue Pharma's patent on the MS Contin was close to expiry, the Sackler family who owned the company spent millions trying to find a product that could replace the profits they'd lose from generic competition on MS Contin: the result was Oxycontin, a drug that went on to kill Americans at epidemic scale. Read the rest
Up in the manicured hills of Los Feliz, a neighborhood that boasts at least three famous murder houses, the one with the weirdest history may be the Perelson house... where, deep in the night of December 6, 1959, a husband and father of three lost his fragile grip and went terribly, shockingly crazy. But the story only starts there.
Why did Harold Perelson snap? What does it mean when, without warning, the safety of a family home is shattered from within? And how do you explain what's happened to the house since?
This week on HOME: Stories From L.A., a mystery that's endured for almost 60 years, and the crime that set it in motion.
Thanks for listening. And if you like what you hear, please subscribe. Read the rest
In 2013, Ana Biocini called the Oakland police because she'd heard a noise and thought there might be an intruder in the house. When the police arrived, they handcuffed her brother, Hernan Jaramillo, "without any lawful reason or justification," dragged him 20 feet down the sidewalk, threw him facedown into the ground, and three officers knelt on him while he begged for breath. The 51 year old man died at the scene. Read the rest