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No. 58: Jul-Aug 1988

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John heymer still doesn't believe the stock shc explanations!

IN SF#46, John Heymer described the death scene of Henry Thomas -- a suspected case of SHC (Spontaneous Human Combustion). He now gives details for a remarkably similar case, that of an Annie Webb, of Newport, Gwent, U.K.

"The two deaths had amazing similarities, not the least of which was the fact that both people had reduced the intake of air into their rooms by draught-proofing them. Thomas had sealed both doors to his room with a standard draught excluder, while Webb had inserted strips of newspaper into every possible gap around both the door and window of her room.

"The torsos of both persons were completely destroyed. Not a single organ survived except a leather-like shrunken left lung in the case of Webb. All the bones were reduced to ash from the neck to the midthigh.

"In both cases the blackened skulls and untouched lower portions of legs remained. Webb's right arm was also intact. She had been incinerated on the floor with her arm outflung from her torso, hence its survival.

"As in the case of Thomas, furniture in Webb's room, which had commenced to burn, stopped burning due to the lack of oxygen. Yet again a complete human torso was reduced to ash in an atmosphere too devoid of oxygen to support the continued combustion of readily combustible materials."

Heymer considers this last fact very strange. Further, he claims that in these cases the usual pattern of human burning was reversed. Normally, the extremities are consumed, leaving a charred but recognizable torso. Here, only the extremities remain and the torso is gone! (Heymer, John; "A Burnt-Out Case?" New Scientist, p. 68, May 19, 1988.)

Reference. Many additional examples of SHC can be found in BHC7 in our catalog: Biological Anomalies: Humans II. A description of this book is located here.

From Science Frontiers #58, JUL-AUG 1988. 1988-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987