1993: Joseph Paul Jernigan, Visible Human Project subject

2 comments August 5th, 2013 Headsman

On this date in 1993, Joseph Paul Jernigan died by lethal injection in Texas. Yet he lives on still.

A career burglar, Jernigan was surprised mid-robbery in 1981 by 75-year-old Edward Hale: the thief promptly shot the homeowner dead, then finished his looting. His life as a free man would be over within days.

As a criminal you wouldn’t much notice Joseph Paul Jernigan — unless it was your house he was burgling, of course — and you wouldn’t exactly call his smash-and-grab act state-of-the-art. But little over a year after his death, Jernigan was making headlines for a groundbreaking scientific project.

Jernigan donated his body to science, joining an ancient tradition of condemned men and women whose bodies are “cadaverized” for whatever medical material is required of their own day and age.

But instead of serving as a med school’s pincushion, “science” in Jernigan’s case turned out to be — Jernigan had no idea of it while he lived — the Visible Human Project.

This National Library of Medicine initiative built a data set of digital images depicting the complete anatomy of a normal adult man and woman: Jernigan’s cadaver was selected for the male lead.

So, after his execution, Jernigan’s entire body was “sliced” from head to foot into 1,871 one-millimeter slides. (The “slicing” process ground away the body completely; it did not literally slice it like salami.)


Joseph Jernigan’s thorax, including the heart. (From here.)

The project is still online, and has never yet been replicated/surpassed with the the advancing technologies of the intervening decades. It’s a weirdly beautiful, unsettling, and ethically questionable artifact — a Smugglerius of the digital age — but it’s also inescapably awe-striking.

So here: take a tour down Joseph Jernigan at the, er, cutting edge of anatomization.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 20th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Lethal Injection,Murder,Texas,USA

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2006: Lu Dongming and Lu Kuan, Internet bombers

Add comment December 30th, 2011 Headsman

Who says China oppresses Internet users?

On this date in 2006, the People’s Republic avenged the bombings of two Hefei Internet bars with the execution of Lu Dongming and his nephew Lu Kuan.

Two young men were killed, and four others wounded, in the May 2006 attacks, which occurred just minutes apart.*


(cc) image from Am + Mo.

Extortion — which was formally on Lu Dongming’s charge sheet — of other cafe owners was the apparent motive: though the stakes in the Hefei cybercafe business might be a little lower than for the lords of industry, Chinese capitalism has a distinct gangster component.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Capital Punishment,China,Common Criminals,Death Penalty,Execution,History,Murder,Pelf,Ripped from the Headlines

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2009: Hiroshi Maeue, suicide website murderer

Add comment July 28th, 2010 Headsman

One year ago today, Japan hanged three men, among whom the most notorious was Internet suicide-club serial sex killer (you can see why he made the headlines) Hiroshi Maeue.

After a couple brushes with the law over asphyxiation-oriented assaults in the 1990s, Maeue found his medium in hypertext.

Trolling a Japanese “cyber-suicide” site — they’re notoriously popular in Japan — the late-30s Maeue lured two young women and a 14-year-old schoolgirl to separate meetings for the ostensible purpose of committing joint suicides.

M.O.: get the “partner”/victim into a car on the pretext of doing the carbon monoxide poisoning thing together, then tie her up and throttle her. Rape doesn’t seem to have been a part of it, but word was that Maeue “confessed to deriving sexual pleasure from seeing people suffocate.”

He got that treatment himself little more than two years after he was sentenced. Hanged along with Maeue in Osaka this date was Yukio Yamaji, who raped and murdered two sisters in 2005. On the same day in Tokyo, Chinese national Chen Detong got the rope for a 1999 triple homicide.

Perhaps not coincidentally, these high-profile executions occurred just weeks before national elections that were looking bad (and turned out worse) for the then-governing Liberal Democratic Party.

Update: Japan observed the one-year anniversary by hanging two more people this same date in 2010, executions personally witnessed by anti-death penalty Justice Minister.

“It made me again think deeply about the death penalty,” said Keiko Chiba. “and I once again strongly felt that there is a need for a fundamental discussion about the death penalty.”

They were the first executions under the Democratic Party government elected shortly after Maeue’s hanging.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 21st Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,Hanged,Japan,Murder,Ripped from the Headlines,Serial Killers,Sex

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