Second case of spontaneous human combustion in Ireland

Back in September, we reported on the apparent first case of spontaneous human combustion ever reported in Ireland. Now comes news that a second case has been reported, this time the victim being a woman.

In the second case of suspected human combustion in Ireland this year, a 50-year-old mother of three has died in an “unusually confined” blaze.

Elizabeth McLaughlin’s body was identified by her dental remains, the coroner’s court heard.

Her partner, Harry Masterson, told the inquest, “It seems to me that it was spontaneous human combustion, which I know is unusual. It was just terrible, I would not wish it on anyone.”

The Irish police were perplexed by McLaughlin’s death on December 22, in Carndonagh, County Donegal.

During the inquest Sergeant John McLaughlin said, “Inside the sitting room, on the floor, were the charred remains of the person.

“An unusual aspect was that the actual burning and fire damage were confined to the human remains on the floor and the immediate vicinity.”

The victim’s nephew, Kevin Loftus, was the first on the scene. He said there were three dead cats in the house. He also smelt the smoke when he entered the house.

According to the Evening Herald he said, “I saw what I thought was a burned Christmas tree lying on the sitting room floor.”

McLaughlin’s niece Dolores identified her clothes. Loftus said “She said ‘there is her shoe’. It was then I realized it was a leg. I could not believe what I was seeing.”

Deputy State Pathologist Dr Michael Curtis conducted the autopsy on Ms McLaughlin.

He told the Irish Times “There was a high level of cyanide in the blood stream and carbon monoxide in the atmosphere, which is not normally there. There was no antemortem damage.

“Death was caused by fire. There was talk of spontaneous human combustion at the time. I did a little research and that probably is an urban myth but when I did see the remains, it did come to mind . . . I believe the clothes acted like a wick on a candle”.

Just months ago the Irish coroner ruled that Michael Faherty (76) in Galway also died due to this phenomenon. Fire officers said they did not believe that fire in his home was cause by the fireplace as his body was the only thing in the room that was damaged.

It’s interesting to me that spontaneous human combustion (SHC) is often relegated to the realm of urban legend, and yet cases like this still keep happening, with no explanation. Only the body is burned, and it is burned so completely so that pretty much only ash remains. But there is no sighn of the person trying to get help or extinguish the fire, and the fire is so extreme and intense, but only the person burns. Not sure that it’s paranormal, but very odd indeed.

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