Two good, two not so good
Some weeks are good at my main job and some are bad. This week was a sort of split-personality case, with Monday and Tuesday being pretty good and Wednesday and Thursday pretty bad. I guess batting .500 isn’t so terrible, right? What made the difference is that on the first two days I did my normal scheduled work. As had been the case last week, this cycle isn’t particularly heavy. Unfortunately, I had to do (almost) double work on Wednesday and Thursday, as the last time I had been at the worksite I hadn’t been able to complete everything. Ha ha, I thought I might have been able to get some assistance this week, but that wasn’t about to happen. One good thing is that the upcoming two-week cycle should be pretty reasonable. In fact, the rest of the year shouldn’t be bad. I hope so.
Tuesday was my only shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, a quite tolerable 5 to 9. There were a couple other people working in the garden department so I wasn’t particularly busy even though there was a steady customer flow. In the last couple hours some freight came out and I worked on that. Supposedly, within a month there will be a new system in place that will make freight handling quicker and more efficient. I’ll reserve judgment.
Today’s longform mystery: The Man in the Moor
On Saturday, December 12, 2015, a cyclist in Britain’s Peak District National Park found the body of an older man lying just off the path in a scenic area. The dead man was between 65 and 75, 6’1″ and slim, with receding gray hair and blue eyes. He carried no identification, but had 130 pounds in ten-pound notes and two train tickets. He also had what turned out to be strychnine tablets, and indeed the autopsy showed that he had died of strychnine poisoning. It probably was suicide but there’s still no official verdict.
Using the train tickets and surveillance camera footage, the police were able to determine that the man had entered Ealing Broadway station on the London Underground at 9:04am on the previous day, Friday December 11. It was not possible to determine from what direction he had entered the station. One thing the police were able to deduce is that the man was unfamiliar with the station’s layout, given the way he was looking around for the correct entrance. The police later showed the man’s picture in local businesses, and no one recognized him. He paid his fare in cash.
At 9:50am the man arrived at London Euston station on the mainline rail network and bought a ticket to Manchester Piccadilly Street station. Oddly enough, he bought a round trip ticket, though at 81.60 pounds the round trip cost only one pound more than a one way. He paid in cash once again and took the train which departed at 10am.
At 12:07pm the man arrived at Manchester Piccadilly station and the cameras showed that some strange behavior ensued. He spent about an hour wandering more or less aimlessly around the station, going into several shops without staying long inside or buying anything until he finally got a sandwich. After eating it, he went to the taxi stand outside the station but turned around and came back in. He spoke to a clerk at the information booth, who unfortunately did not remember the conversation. Finally, the man left the station for good around 1pm, going on foot in the direction of the city center.
About an hour later, at 2pm, the man appeared at a pub in the town of Greenfield, which is about 12 miles from the Manchester station and near the entrance to the national park. Investigators have been unable to determine how he got there. The man asked the bartender for directions to the nearby mountain top, the bartender gave him the directions but cautioned him that there wouldn’t be time to get there and back before dark. From the pub to the spot where the man died is about two and a half miles.
The dead man’s clothing was unremarkable, most likely purchased in Britain, but two very strange pieces of evidence turned up. The glass bottle containing the strychnine pills was itself in a cardboard box for a thyroid medicine. Not only did the autopsy show no evidence of thyroid disease, or any other illness, but the thyroid medicine was from Pakistan and had a June 2015 manufacturing date. The autopsy also showed that the man had a titanium plate on his left femur, having been used in the surgical repair of a severe fracture some time prior to 2013. While the plate did not have a serial number, a manufacturer’s mark showed that it too had been made in Pakistan. Its maker produced about 500 of the plates each year and distributed them among 12 Pakistani hospitals.
What made these connections to Pakistan especially odd is the fact that the man definitely wasn’t Pakistani. And Pakistan is obviously not a country on the normal tourist route. Nonetheless, the man must have been there at some point prior to 2013 when he underwent the surgery, and probably (though not definitively) after June 2015 when he acquired the thyroid medicine bottle.
Months later the man is still unidentified. Fingerprints and DNA have been no help and he doesn’t match any known missing persons. At this point, probably the best hope is that one of the Pakistani hospitals will have records of having performed femur surgery on an older white man, but whether they will be forthcoming is another matter.