A Brief History
In Argentina, during the “Dirty War” (1974-1983) people involved in opposition to the government were kidnapped and killed, those victims referred to as “the disappeared” (desaparecidos). Live babies cut from the wombs of pregnant women murdered for their babies were called “Children of the Disappeared,” and given over to adoption for families of reliable political supporters of the government. Today we list 10 ways of killing someone in order to send a message or make a point that have a specific name or nickname for the killing or mutilation involved.
1. Sicilian Necktie. (AKA Columbian Necktie, Peruvian Necktie, etc.)
This form of murder meant to send a message involves cutting the victim’s throat deeply and pulling the tongue out through the large gash. It is meant to terrify other people into not doing or failing to do whatever it was that got the victim on the wrong side of the murderer. The name “Sicilian Necktie” comes from the use of this terror technique by the Mafia and the “Columbian Necktie” name derives from the tactic used by South American drug lords.
2. Fetal Abduction.
As detailed above in the “Children of the Disappeared” program conducted by the military junta that ruled Argentina during the “Dirty War,” the practice is more formally called “Fetal Abduction” and usually, but not always, results in the death of the mother. Numerous cases have been documented where the idea was to steal the baby, while other cases exist to terrify a populace or as actions as part of a genocide. (In the Bible, Hosea 13:16, is the line, “…their pregnant women ripped open.” referring to “…the people of Samaria.”) In Africa, Arab slavers were known to cut open the wombs of pregnant African women to show Arab women how a fetus lay in the womb! The practice is also called “Womb Raiding” or “In utero kidnapping.”
3. Belarusian Bowtie.
Kind of a variation of the “Necktie” type murder/mutilations, this classy trick involves the requisite deeply cut throat, with the testicles and scrotum of the (male) victim removed and placed in the mouth, with the scrotum and testicles pulled out the gash in the throat, et voila, a macabre “bowtie.” The Belarusian Bowtie was featured in the 2017 film, Once Upon a Time in Venice.
4. Glasgow Smile. (AKA Chelsea Smile, or Cheshire Grin)
This humanitarian gesture consists of slicing the victim from ear to ear across the mouth, leaving a sardonic “smile” scar (if the victim lives through the ordeal) or leaving a murder victim with a macabre countenance in death. Actor Tommy Flanagan of Sons of Anarchy fame is a real-life victim of a Glasgow Smile.
5. Black Dahlia.
In 1947, an unfortunate 22 year old young woman was murdered in Hollywood, California, her body left cut in half at the waist, with the top and bottom halves about a foot apart. Her mouth was cut with a Glasgow Smile (see above), portions of her flesh cut from her body, and the body posed with the legs spread and the hands over her head with her arms bent at right angles. Her intestines were pulled from her body cavity and tucked under her buttocks. A few days later the killer called the Los Angeles Examiner (newspaper) and told the editor to expect “souvenirs” of the victim. A few days after the call, the Examiner received an envelope with some of the victim’s property, identification, etc. The killer was never caught and the murder remains unsolved. Since this famous incident, murder victims that are cut in half and posed are called “Black Dahlias.”
6. Blood Eagle.
Definitely one of the more macabre methods to kill someone, the Blood Eagle is a Norse method from back in the Viking days, almost exclusively reserved for the killing of a person of royalty. The gruesome act is performed by laying the victim face down, cutting through their back and their ribs, and pulling out the lung on each side to give the appearance of bizarre “wings” on the victim’s back. Since this was to be performed on a still living person, the lungs inflating and deflating with each breath would give the appearance of fluttering “wings.” Whether or not this method was actually used is debated by historians, but the person given credit for dreaming up the bloody torturous death was Ivar the Boneless, son of Ragnar Lodbrok (various spellings). Some Viking scholars believe the practice was a ritual sacrifice to the god, Odin. Oh, and for extra pain salt would be poured on the gaping wounds.
Just one of many ways to burn someone to death, this particular practice originated in sub-Saharan Africa around 1980 and has spread to Asia, the Middle East, Haiti, and South America. A tire or multiple tires are placed around the neck or body of the victim, and set afire with gasoline or other flammable liquid, killing the victim in a horrible, painful manner, taking as long as 20 minutes to cause death. The then wife of Nelson Mandela (1986) endorsed this form of execution to be used against White people in South Africa.
8. Six Pack.
The victim of this form of torture/mutilation may survive the ordeal, but would likely end up somewhat crippled from the experience. The attack consists of shooting with a gun both ankles, both knees, and both elbows. (Ouch!) This attack is a more extreme version of “kneecapping” in which the victim’s knees are shot, or in another variation, drilled with a battery powered hand drill. The Irish Republican Army is known to have used this horrible method of punishing their enemies, as have gangs, terror organizations and militants of various sorts throughout the world.
9. Chicago Overcoat. (AKA Cement Shoes)
This antisocial act consists of encasing the victim in cement or concrete and tossing them into a large body of water where presumably they will not be found any time soon. In the “cement shoes” variation, only the victim’s feet and ankles are clad in cement (or wrapped in chains or other heavy metal, cinder blocks, etc.) and the victim is tossed into the drink to suffer the terrible death of helplessly drowning. In a Mafia technique called Lupara Bianca, the victim is entirely encased in concrete or cement, and incorporated into a building project, such as a roadway, parking lot, etc. so that the body will not be found for many years if ever. (Jimmy Hoffa?)
This term is taken from the name of Dr. Kevorkian, the advocate for assisted suicide of terminal patients. There is not special way to do the deed, just killing a dying person so as to avoid undue suffering. “I think Uncle Joe was Kevorked by Aunt May.” “So, do you think we should Kevork Grandpa?” Methods of killing range from simple suffocation (pillow over the face, etc), to providing the dying person with a gun or sharp instrument to do themselves in, to poisoning the patient (often with an overdose of medicine), or even stabbing or shooting the suffering person. Anyone contemplating “Kevorking” a loved one better be sure of the laws of the state or country they are planning on doing the deed in! What seems like an act of compassion may well result in jail time for the person committing the act.
Questions for students: Why have people spent so much time and effort coming up with innovative and disturbing ways to kill their fellow human beings? Are any of these methods particularly shocking to you? If so, why?
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The featured image in this article, collections of photos from families whose children and grandchildren had disappeared, by Giselle Bordoy WMAR, the copyright holder of this work, published it under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
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