[00:31:56:22] - Narration
St. Forgeot is an ordinary village, peaceful, idyllic. The story you are about to hear, Daniel Roszack never before made public. That fateful Saturday, the first of May, at 12 noon, Daniel went to see his old friend, 78 year old Michael Tomaszewski. What happened that afternoon traumatised Daniel for years after.
[00:32:21:14] – Interview with Daniel Roszack – Witness
There you have it, I knocked on the door and shouted ‘I’m Back’; as there was no response, I opened the door. Then I saw Michael Tomaszewski seated, his elbow on the table, glasses on his head, looking towards the door. His eyes were yellow, his head and hair were burnt. I called twice and receiving no reply, I got scared and closed the door. Distraught, I ran to call for help.
[00:33:08:29] – Interview with Daniel Roszack – Witness
What struck me most was the way he was sitting. Michael stayed there, unresponsive in his favourite position, facing the window as if he wanted a last look at the place where he had spent most of his life.
[00:33:21:08] – Narration
So what happened? The only certainty is that death was sudden and violent. The investigation ruled out theories of murder, suicide and accidental death, leaving behind only mystery.
Many believe this was a case of spontaneous combustion. The victim’s body was found charred and partially reduced to ashes, while nothing in close proximity was affected by the flames.
[00:33:52:12] – Narration
Another intriguing case began on a relatively mundane Christmas morning. Paris firefighters received a call for assistance about a person not responding to calls from his neighbours. Leon, a bachelor of fifty years, had not been seen by any of his neighbours for several days, and they were finding his absence increasingly disturbing.
[00:34:15:08] – Interview with Colonel François Maresq – Paris Fireman
When the firefighters entered the apartment, they observed no marks on the walls. There was a faint odor, difficult to describe. There were some traces of fat on the furniture and finally, on the floor in the middle of the room, there lay the burnt remains of a human body.
[00:34:40:16] - Narration
In their entire career, the firefighters had never seen a fire victim in such a state as this. There was no damage to the apartments above or below, and the neighbours felt nothing and heard nothing. The origin of the fire was unknown and unexplained.
[00:34:55:24] – Interview with Colonel François Maresq – Paris Fireman
Usually in a standard fire, the skin tissue of the victim is affected, but not the visceral organs and bones inside. Yet there he was, nothing left except the skull and lower limbs. The wooden floor and furniture were slightly burnt, but apart from this…there was absolutely no damage.
[00:35:20:22] - Narration
For anthropologist Dr Claude Guyonnet, everything can be explained. By placing human fat and skin around a test tube, and lighting it at one end, Dr Guyonnet believes he can explain ‘spontaneous combustion’. If a man suffers a heart attack - the gas released from his corpse mixes with intestinal gas, and spreads through the air, igniting upon contact with a light source. The fire is then maintained spontaneously by the fat in the body, like a candle..
[00:35:56:22]- Interview with Doctor Claude Guyonnet – Anthropologist
The body burns from it’s own substances. It’s the fat contained within the body that maintains the fire throughout the clothes. In fact, the fat serves as fuel, perpetuating it’s own destruction.
[00:36:14:23] – Interview with Lt-Colonel H. André LAURAIN – Judicial Fire Expert
There was fuel, yes and there’s no question that fat is combustible. But there needs to be 21% of oxygen in the air for combustion, but the energy startup, that is, a spark, is absent in these cases. We did not find it, and it cannot be explained.
[00:36:35:14] - Narration
Jean-Pierre FABRE, a criminologist, is analyzing whether these incidents might be murder. The human body contains 72% water, making it incredibly difficult to burn up completely. In these cases there were no traces of bone whatsoever and the victims all shared certain characteristics.
[00:36:59:12] – Interview with Jean-Pierre Fabre – Criminologist
What I found in five cases that I dealt with is that very often we are dealing with people of a certain age, between 40-75 years. Secondly, victims are predominantly reclusive people, who are a bit cut off from society, some, like Leon, suffer from speech impediments, or have suffered some trauma following the death of a loved one.
[00:37:29:21] – Narration
This is URUFFE, a small village deep in Lorraine. Ginette Kazmierczak, lived here with her son in a second floor apartment. She was deeply distressed over the disappearance of her husband, but generally in good health. One day, her son went out with his friends. He never saw his mother alive again. At 6am, the next day, she was discovered locked in her apartment, in an advanced state of cremation.
[00:37:59:23] Interview with Lt-Colonel H. André LAURAIN – Judicial Fire Expert
We know that a kilogram of wood, a kilo of fabric and a kilo of paper are turned black when burnt, and that the fumes leave black marks deposited on the walls, furniture and ceiling. There they found nothing. Yet we know that wood burned.
[00:38:18:10 ] – Narration
Divine punishment, lightning, witchcraft and other paranormal theories surround these incidents….are they evidence of devils at work?
[00:38:34:12] – Interview with Doctor Claude Guyonnet – Anthropologist
I think that this is an essential function of mental activity. That we need to believe in supernatural powers . Our society seeks a terribly rational ideology, but in fact, science is not immune to these belief systems.
[00:39:01:06] – Narration
However, this does not dispel the aura of mystery surrounding the phenomenon. In a spontaneous human combustion, the bones disappear into ashes along with the rest of the human tissue. Yet during the artificial incineration of a crematorium, this is not the case. The oven is 800 degrees, with a little oxygen. Yet the bones remain.
The director of the crematorium was faced with a photograph illustrating a case of unexplained burning. His response is even more illuminating.
[00:39:37:24] - Interview with Jacques Lebrun – Director of the Crematorium at Brussels
The parts, the most difficult to burn, are precisely those found in the central part of the body, that’s the lungs, the intestines and other organs. These are the parts which burn slower in the crematorium, because they are protected by the strong bones, which are difficult to burn at all.
[00:40:14:20] - Narration
With such complex cases, it’s difficult to come to a definitive conclusion…and so far, no explanation, rational or paranormal, seems to satisfy the experts. Yet as long as the authorities keep closing cases on ‘unexplained’ deaths, there will be people trying to unravel these mysteries.
[00:40:45:50] - OUT
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