Monday, October 25, 2010

True Crime Tuesday--The Riddle of the Human Hearts

We writers are always asked where we get our ideas. And the answer is that they are all around us. I was once swimming laps at my health club and overheard the woman in the next lane saying to her swimming partner, "Of course the gunbelt weighs you down." So of course I started swimming as slowly as they were to overhear the rest of that conversation.

Another way to find ideas is through the news media. This incredible piece showed up locally a few days ago and I thought I had to use it because it's perfect for Halloween week:

Gruesome Find in Colma Cemetery.

A maintenance worker was working in an isolated part of Holy Cross Catholic Cemetery on Oct. 12 when he saw the tops of two jars sticking out of the ground. He pulled one of the jars out of the ground and saw a human heart with a photo of a young man and woman pinned to it, police said.

The second jar had another human heart but with a photo of a different couple. Police also found partially burned cigars and candles. Both of the couples look to be in their early 20s and the pictures were not professionally taken, police told Bay City News.

The San Mateo County Coroner's Office says the hearts likely came from corpses because embalming fluid was found on them. A pathologist examined the organs and determined that they had been surgically removed from bodies that had undergone autopsies.
There have been no reports of graves being dug up in Colma, which is home to 16 cemeteries, or any other city in San Mateo County.

The investigation is pointing "toward some kind of ritual involving Santeria," Colma police Cmdr. Jon Read told the San Mateo County Times. But an expert told the paper that Santeria rituals don't involve human organs. There was no indcation of how long the bodies from which the hearts were removed had been dead, Read said.

Colma cops are working with other law enforcement agencies in the investigation

This is the kind of thing that gets the brain of a crime writer ticking away furiously. Were the hearts removed from murder victims and then embalmed to preserve them? By a man jealous of the happiness that the couple shared? Who loved the girl who could never love him? Were the hearts those of two people who loved each other but could never be together and someone saw that their hearts were reunited in death?

Anyone intersted in mystery novels could come up with a hundred different takes on this, couldn't they? What is yours? Who can come up with a great Halloween story? Virtual candy (the type with no calories) awarded to the winner.


  1. Rhys, mostly I love the idea of you swimming along slowly trying to get the scoop! That's the feat of an athlete. (I wear earplugs in a pool so wouldn't have heard a thing!)

  2. What if DNA analysis reveals...
    - the hearts were from identical twins
    - one heart matches evidence collected at a crime scene of a convicted serial killer, a man believed to be awaiting execution on death row
    - both hearts belonged to young accident victims whose body part were donated for organ transplant


    “Our hearts are one.” I wonder at the perfection of my parents’ love e very time I read the inscription in the locket I found clutched in Mother’s dead hand. The police called it murder-suicide, but I’m certain Dad was happy to go with her when the voices called her home. When she pressed the gun to his temple, I’m sure he smiled. So when the doctors took his heart before turning off the life-support, I knew Mother’s would beat for them both throughout eternity. Just as Shirley’s will beat for us. I’ve buried her heart, our heart now, in the old cemetery with our photo. Mother and Dad are there, too. I kept their heart close to me all these years, but the police are coming. Shirley smiled when I said, “Our hearts are one.” She never saw the gun. Now our heart has been preserved for eternity, and the voices are calling me home, too.

  4. Oooh, great Halloween story!
    I love it!

  5. Yay, Wahoo! (me clapping) Way to go Mo!!

  6. Mo, fantastic!! Cannot do better than that...!
    In fact...why not just take that gem and give it a littlework and expansion and and submit somehwhere? You could certainly do it..

  7. This is what I do when the big writing projects are stalled. (I've already sent my MWANE Corner Contest entry in,too.) I have a file of "story starters" that need to be finished. I'll add this to the file. Thanks for the idea--and let me know if you ever find out the true story.