Do you like to read a good murder mystery? Not
even "Law & Order" would attempt to capture this mess. This is an
unbelievable twist of fate !!!!
it's a true story
At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for
Forensic Science, AAFS President Dr Don Harper Mills astounded his
audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death.
On March 23, 1994...... The medical examiner
viewed the body of Ronald Opus, and concluded that he died from a
shotgun wound to the head.
Mr. Opus had jumped from the top of a ten story
building intending to commit suicide. He left a note to the effect
indicating his despondency.
As he fell past the 9th floor, his
life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which
killed him instantly.
Neither the shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety
net had been installed just below the 8th floor level to protect some
building workers and that Ronald Opus would not have been able to
complete his suicide the way he had planned.
'Ordinarily,' Dr Mills continued, 'Someone who sets out to
commit suicide and ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might
not be what he intended, is still defined as committing suicide.' That
Mr. Opus was shot on the way to certain death, but probably would not
have been successful because of the safety net, caused the medical
examiner to feel that he had a "homicide" on his hands.
The room on the 9th floor, where the shotgun blast emanated,
was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. They were arguing
vigorously, and he was threatening her with a shotgun! The man was so
upset that when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife,
and the pellets went through the window, striking Mr Opus.
When one intends to kill subject 'A' but kills subject 'B' in the
attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject 'B.'
When confronted with the murder charge, the old man and his
wife were both adamant, and both said that they thought the shotgun was
The old man said it was a long standing habit to threaten his wife
with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her. Therefore
the killing of Mr. Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, assuming
the gun had been accidentally loaded.
The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old
couple's son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal
It also transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the
propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the
expectation that his father would shoot his mother.
Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of
the murder even though he didn't actually pull the trigger. The case
now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald
Now comes the exquisite twist:
Further investigation revealed
that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly
despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's
murder. This led him to jump off the ten-story building on March 23rd,
only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the 9th story
Ronald Opus, had actually murdered himself. So the medical examiner
closed the case as a suicide.
A true story
from Associated Press