Monday, July 2, 2012

Murder or Suicide?

Ronald Opus jumped off a building but a stray bullet hit and killed him. Was it murder or suicide? Forensic science is the only answer to this suicide attempt.


On March 23, 1994 a medical examiner looked at the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he had died from a shotgun wound to the head. Ronald had jumped from the top of a 10-storey building with the intention of committing suicide.


He had left a note behind before he jumped and as he fell past the ninth floor, a bullet was fired through the window, killing him instantly. Unknown to everyone, a safety net had been put up just below the eighth floor for some building workers so Ronald would never have been able to kill himself. Usually, when someone succeeds at committing suicide, regardless of changing circumstances, their death is still defined as suicide. Because Ronald was shot during a suicide attempt, and probably would have been saved by the safety net, the medical examiner felt he had a murder on his hands.


An old man and his wife lived on the ninth floor where the gun had been fired. The man had been threatening his wife during an argument. He was so mad, he pulled the trigger but missed his wife and hit Ronald instead. Even though he tried to kill his wife, he still killed someone else in the attempt so he's guilty of murdering Ronald. The man and his wife insisted they thought the gun was unloaded. It was a habit to threaten his wife with the gun and he had no intention of murdering her. If the gun was accidentally loaded, then the killing was an accident.


More investigating turned up a witness who saw the couple's son load the shotgun several weeks before the accident. Apparently, the old lady had cut off her son's money. So the son, who knew about his dad's bad habit of threatening Mom with the gun, loaded the gun so his dad would shoot her. He was guilty of murdering Ronald even though he didn't pull the trigger.


But get this...


The son was actually Ronald Opus. He had become depressed cuz his attempt to cause his mom's murder wasn't working out. When he jumped off the 10-storey building, Ronald had actually murdered himself. The medical examiner considered the death a suicide and closed the case.


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