My Research Notes for THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN’S GARDEN OF DEADLY DELIGHTS

HA10 GGDResearch for This Book
 
When plotting my novels, I ask myself the question, “Can this happen? Is it plausible?” 
 
Even the plotting of a light mystery starts with copious research, especially when the topic pertains to bioterrorism, biogenetics, and an industry as complex as agriculture. In my case, advance research for The Housewife Assassin’s Garden of Deadly Delights began with conversations with professionals in particular fields, as well as articles in professional journals and established newspapers.  
 
Here are some interesting facts that are stranger than fiction:
 
1. Can plants carry a virus harmful to humans?
 
Yes. Ebola is a perfect example. Fatalities from this filovirus can run anywhere from fifty to ninety percent. Deaths can happen within a week. The Marburg, Lassa and Machupo viruses can be harmful, and in some cases fatal. As of the time I write this, there are no vaccines for these viruses.
 
2. Can a virus cause cancer?
 
Yes. In the course of researching plot points for this novel, I stumbled upon a plant virus known as cytomegalovirus, or CMV, which causes a particularly aggressive form of brain cancer in humans, in conjunction with the patients' genetic markers. CMV is quick acting, and deadly. Whereas there is no vaccine as of yet, the Brain Tumor Society and the NIH are funding a study at Duke University in the hope of developing one.
 

4. Will swine eat humans?

Yes, there is a precedent. Recent incidents include a case in which an Italian mobster boasted of a rival’s death-by-swine on a phone call intercepted by local police. Another sad incident was that of a seventy-year-old Oregon farmer whose only remains were his dentures. Another incident took place in Romania, where a farmer’s wife was knocked unconscious and was  being devoured when her husband found her and pulled her out of the pig pen. She died in the hospital. (See the article links, below.)

 
4. As for whether cows attack humans…
 
A six-year four-state study proves it sometimes happens. In my scenario, I had the consumption of corn tainted with a virus that leads to brain cancer as further motivation.
 
5. Can a person get killed by getting tossed under a corn harvester?

In December 2014, a Canadian farmer was a recent fatality. This syndicated article notes that he was the third such fatality—that is, via farm equipment—in the area. 

Here's an OSHA report on various farm accidents, including two that include harvesters (one corn, one tobacco). I've also noted a report on farm equipment deaths in Canada for 2014 here.

Again, I look for plausibility. This is, after all, a work of fiction.  
 
Below you'll find some if the articles referred to here.
 
—Josie
 

Swine Eating Humans

Yes, there is a precedent. Recent incidents include a case in which an Italian mobster boasted of a rival’s death-by-swine on a phone call intercepted by local police. Another sad incident was that of a seventy-year-old Oregon farmer who only remains were his dentures. Another incident took place in Romania, where a farmer’s wife was knocked unconscious and was  being devoured when her husband found her and pulled her out of the pig pen. She died in the hospital. 

Were the hogs starving when they encountered these people? Was foul play involved? In the last two scenarios, unless we were there, we will never know.
 
Still, these deaths makes my plot plausible, especially when I’ve added the tainted grain scenario that affects the brain of those animals who ate the corn. 
 
 

Italian Mobster Sleeps with the Pigs

Published on Nov 29, 2013 /ITN News / Ashley Fudge

Police made a particularly grim discovery in Italy after they realised a mobster boss had been eaten by pigs. The details were uncovered when officers intercepted a phone call from a man who boasted about being one of the killers. While listening in, they heard the man admit how much he enjoyed hearing Francesco Raccosta's screams. ‘Operazione Erinni' has been investigating the mafia in southern Italy and a long-running feud between the Bonarrigo-Mazzagatti-Polimeni and Ferraro-Raccosta syndicate. Police said the murder of Raccosta demonstrated the “utmost ruthlessness and cruelty” of the mafia clans.”

 

Oregon Farmer's Grisly Death by Swine

Slate.com / October 2012 / Brian Palmer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKRv1LLk39k

An Oregon farmer was eaten by his hogs on Wednesday. The 70-year-old Vietnam veteran had gone to feed the animals in the morning, and his family found his dentures and scattered remains in the hog pen several hours later. Authorities are trying to determine whether the pigs deliberately killed the man. 

Yes. Cattle kill approximately 22 Americans per year nationwide, and the animals deliberately attack their victims in 75 percent of those cases, according to a 2009 study. About one-third of bovine killers have a history of aggressive behavior. Swine likely kill fewer people than cattle do, but there are no reliable data on this question. The CDC’s mortality statistics group together all mammal attacks apart from those perpetrated by rodents, dogs, and humans. The death count in the mammal-attack category averages about 73 per year, including cattle-related mortalities.

There are, however, plenty of anecdotes suggesting that swine are willing and able to kill humans. British pigs seem to have a particularly aggressive streak. In 2006, a 650-pound swine pinned a Welsh farmer to a tractor and bit him until the victim’s wife scared the attacker off with a water hose. The same year, a pig foraging in England’s New Forest—a hunting ground where farmers pasture their swine—caused a horse to throw its rider, then mauled the prone woman.

Livestock display an alarming ability to coordinate their attacks. A herd of cattle circles up to confront a perceived threat, with their backsides in the center of the circle and their heads lowered. They may even paw the ground, like a bull facing a matador. Of the 21 cattle-related fatalities in the Plains states between 2003 and 2008, five involved multiple animals swarming the farmer. Pigs are also known to attack cooperatively. In 2007, a sow in Norfolk, England knocked a farmer off his feet, enabling the other pigs to bite the man.

If confronted by an agitated pig or cow, back away and get behind a barrier such as a tree. It also helps to carry a large stick as a weapon and to make yourself appear larger.

October 2, 2012 / New York Daily News, Erik Oritz

A family member of an Oregon pig farmer discovered his relative's body parts scattered across the pen — a gruesome find leaving authorities to believe it was a case of hog eats human.

A pathologist couldn’t immediately determine whether the pigs were the actual cause of 70-year-old Terry Garner’s death, but a forensic expert at the University of Oregon will conduct further tests, CBS affiliate KCBY reported Monday.

“What a way,” someone who answered the phone at Garner’s home told NBC News.

Investigators aren’t ruling out the possibility another person could have been involved.

“Due to the unusual circumstances, the Sheriff’s Office is investigating to determine if foul play may have resulted in the death of Mr. Garner,” District Attorney Paul Frasier told KCBY.

Garner was at his farm near rural Riverton last Wednesday, when a family member went looking for him, according to The Register-Guard.

Garner’s dentures were first spotted inside the hog enclosure, and then other random body parts were located — although most of him had already been devoured, the newspaper added.

The Coos County Sheriff’s Office has a couple of theories on what occurred: Garner could have suffered a medical emergency, such as a heart attack, leaving him in “a position where the hogs could consume him,” according to a statement.

In another scenario, the swine — weighing about 700 pounds each — may have knocked Garner down, overwhelming him before killing him, authorities said.

It’s unclear exactly how many pigs live on the farm, but police believe one of them had been aggressive toward Garner before.

Pigs are omnivorous, and have previously been known to feast on people.

The 56-year-old wife of a pig farmer in Romania was knocked unconscious and eaten in the animals’ sty, UPI reported in 2004.

Her ears, half her face and fingers had been ripped off, a doctor said.

 

Romanian Farmer's Wife Life and Limbs

March 5, 2004 /  UPI

BRASOV, Romania, March 5 (UPI) — A small farming town in Romania is reeling Friday after learning angry pigs knocked a farmer's wife unconscious and began eating her.

The Sun of London reported Irma Molnar, 56, somehow fell into the animals' sty in Brasov, and likely frightened them badly.

Her husband, Sandor, found her badly maimed and rushed her to a local hospital where she died.

“Her ears and half her face were missing. Her fingers had also been bitten off,” said Dr. Dan Grigorescue.

Her husband was sedated and vowed to destroy the pigs.

“I'll never breed such beasts again,” he said.

ON THE SAME STORY:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKRv1LLk39k

____________________________

As for whether cows attack Humans…

This four-state study proves it sometimes happens. In my scenario, I add the motivation of consumption of corn tainted with a virus that leads to brain cancer:

____________________________

3. Can a person get killed by getting tossed under a corn harvester?

In December 2014, a Canadian farmer was a recent fatality. This syndicated article notes that he was the third such fatality—that is, via farm equipment—in the area:

Dec 3, 2014 / QMI AGENCY / Toronto Sun

LONDON, Ont. — A 46-year-old man was killed after becoming trapped in a corn harvester early Tuesday.

Brian McConnell, of Bruce County, Ont., is the third farmer to die in farm machinery this harvest season in southwestern Ontario.

In a statement, police warn farmers to “work within their limits and always ensure they keep personal safety in mind.”

The labour ministry, the coroner's office and Ontario Provincial Police are all investigating McConnell's death.

 

 

 

 

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