Anyway, let’s get back to whether or not people have died in a quest for good Halloween decorations (just ruminate on that statement for a moment). Unfortunately, this tale is also rooted in truth. A few days before Halloween in 2005, a Delaware woman hung herself from a tree in a public part of town. Her body, suspended fifteen feet above the ground, was in clear view of passing vehicles. Despite this, many hours passed before authorities thought it might be a good idea to examine this incredibly realistic-looking decorative item. This is a case of someone deliberately hanging herself and being mistaken for adornment. Sadly, it isn’t the only documented case involving hanging and Halloween.
The year was 1990 and the place was Chicago for this utterly bizarre tale. A teenager was supposed to put a noose around his neck and fake-hang himself during a pre-Halloween hayride. What could possibly go wrong with such an expertly devised scheme? Surely no harm could come of this. Everything was going according to plan, until he actually hanged himself and died. In the newspaper story about the incident, James Holzapfel said the stunt had worked on other nights and there was no indication of foul play. I think this is funny because the name Holzapfel sort of reminds me of what probably happened that fateful night, in a very cryptic way. Stay with me here.
“Hold on, let me put on my noose around my windpipe. I’m quite certain nothing will go wrong which would lead to my death.”
ZAP! The rope goes taut; the boy’s neck is snapped and his windpipe is instantly constricted.
Finally, I can only imagine the responses his co-schemers made when he didn’t give the speech he normally made as the hayride passed (yes, that is actually how they discovered something was out of sorts). I imagine a teenager stumbling upon the scene dressed as Kevin Costner in Dances With Wolves (remember, this occurred in 1990). After a few moments of awkward silence, I see the young John J. Dunbar impersonator suggesting that maybe their still-slowly-swinging friend just fell.