Mysteries revisited: spontaneous human combustion
January 12, 2022 | 11 comments
Is it really possible for a person to spontaneously combust ? Image Credit: sxc.hu
Precisely what befell Sarah Morley, who was found burnt to ashes in 1902, would remain a topic of debate for decades.
The terrifying case occurred in England in May of that year when a policeman, who had been passing Morley's house, noticed smoke inside and quickly entered the property to check on its resident.
What he found, much to his surprise, was not a raging inferno but a room that seemed untouched by fire aside from a pile of ashes and a heap of burnt clothing on the floor.
A further investigation revealed that the ashes were in fact the remains of Mrs. Morley.
But how could her body have been incinerated with such intense heat and ferocity within a room full of soft furnishings without setting fire to anything else ?
At the time, it was considered plausible that Mrs. Morley had, through processes unknown, burnt to death in a case of spontaneous human combustion.
"It seems probable that the woman's clothes caught fire," Dr Ernest George Archer wrote in an article for the British Medical Journal at the time. "But how is one to account for the absolute cremation of a body in the midst of a sitting room filled with furniture?"
"I may say the remains were seen with me by a brother practitioner, and we were both agreed that several features of the case were beyond comprehension..."
A similar case reported a few years earlier was also highlighted, again involving an elderly woman who had been living alone and whose body had been incinerated despite no other fire damage to the room.
The phenomenon would go on to perplex the authorities for decades.
While modern science has since offered at least some theories, the phenomenon of spontaneous human combustion continues to remain a particularly chilling addition to the annals of the unexplained.
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