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Mary Reeser
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    (1884-July 2, 1951)
    Born in Columbia, Pennsylvania
    Retired widower believed to have died from spontaneous human combustion (SHC) in St. Petersburg, FL at age 67
    Landlady with the help of nearby painters discovered her remains - her left foot with a slipper, liver fused to vertebrae and her shrunken skull
    Her 175 pound frame reduced to less than 10 pounds of material, mostly ash
    Estimated intensity of fire between 2500-3000° Fahrenheit
    Death officially attributed to falling asleep with lit cigarette in hand
    Last seen by her landlady late July 1 she was smoking a cigarette, said she had taken two Seconal and was going to take two more before going to sleep (not the smartest idea).
    Though her skull was reduced to 'baseball size,' human skulls are not known to shrink while burning.
    A clock near her charred remains was stopped at 4:20 am, but worked fine when plugged into an outlet away from the fire scene.
    Believers vs skeptics argue just how much fire damage there was around the body, where the only point they agree on is her easy chair was completely consumed, leaving just the springs.
    She never got to read the telegram that arrived the day she died and her landlady was trying to give her.
    Physical anthropology Dr. Wilton Krogman called in to speculate, stated, 'I cannot conceive of such complete cremation without more burning of the apartment itself...Were I living in the Middle Ages, I'd mutter something about black magic,' then later backtracked and suggested foul play.
    Though SHC theories were known many years (first reported case was a Frenchman in 1763) and a character from Dickens's 'Bleak House' was killed of this way, her case renewed interest in the phenomenon.
    Her remains were sent to the F.B.I. where it was concluded she was consumed from the 'wick effect,' where a body can fuel fire within itself for hours from burning fat.
    She fit the profile - 80% of SHC victims are 'plump' (overweight) females who live alone.
    Many believers maintain a lit cigarette could never burn hot enough to do the kind of damage done to her and her death certificate was signed with severe apprehension.
    Whatever the case may be she got herself a free cremation.

Credit: Scar Tactics

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