September 13, 2007

Suicide by Guillotine

Owen Wilson could learn a thing or two from this guy.

Allen Park police find man's body, guillotine in wooded area
Doug Guthrie / The Detroit News


ALLEN PARK -- A 41-year-old Melvindale man, whose body was discovered Monday, went to extraordinary and bizarre lengths to kill himself by constructing a 7-foot-tall guillotine in a wooded area near Fairlane Green shopping center.

"It was the most deliberate suicide I've seen in my 28 years (as a police officer)," said Dale Covert, deputy chief of Allen Park Police. "It was one of those things where when you saw it, you couldn't help asking yourself, "What the heck?"

Groundskeepers from the shopping center, at Outer and Fairlane drives, discovered the device and the body in a thickly wooded area shortly after 11 a.m. Monday. About a third of the 243 acre former Ford Motor Company landfill is being developed for retail shopping while the remainder is undeveloped green space crisscrossed with trails.

Police, who believe the man had been dead two days, declined to release his name. Covert said the man had lived within walking distance of the spot where he died. Investigators believe the man made numerous trips to carry the wooden and metal parts of his contraption into the woods where he assembled it. Covert said the man didn't leave a note.

"He spent some time doing this," Covert said. "This wasn't a spur of the moment plan."
The machine utilized a "swing arm-type blade," according to police, instead of the more famous falling blade of guillotines used by executioners in France from that nation's revolution in 1792, until the death penalty was outlawed there in 1981. The device had a lever that allowed the man to trigger it himself, Covert said.

Allen Park police and firefighters disassembled the machine after photographing it at the scene. Some of the metal parts, including the blade, were kept as evidence while the wooden parts were to be disposed of because they were soaked in blood and considered a biohazard, Covert said.

Although the device didn't completely decapitate the victim, Covert said he believes the man died instantly from his injuries.

"It's the most bizarre thing I've ever seen in my life,"Covert said. "It probably didn't quite work the way he planned, but it succeeded in taking his life, probably instantly. I don't believe he suffered."

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