Oklahoma Man May Have Spontaneously Combusted, According to Sheriff
Someone call Mulder and Scully. Officials in Muldrow, Oklahoma, face a conundrum: How did 65-year-old Danny Vanzandt, who was alone in his home, die? One possible explanation, according to Sequoyah County Sheriff Ron Lockhart, is that he is a victim of spontaneous human combustion.
Now, this may seem more 'X-Files' than reality, but Lockhart says he can't rule it out. Spontaneous human combustion—in other words, when a person's body lights on fire without an external source of ignition—may seem far-fetched, but that hasn't stopped the sheriff from considering it. "I think there’s only about 200 cases worldwide, and I’m not saying this happened," said Lockhart. "I’m just saying that we haven’t ruled it out."
The body was apparently discovered in the kitchen, after having burned for up to 10 hours. None of the furniture or other objects nearby seem to be affected, nor does there appear to have been any kind of struggle, which are key factors in Lockhart's suspicions. He added, "There was no damage to the furniture or anything around the fire, so it was a low-heat fire. ... The body is burned, incinerated, like I’ve never seen before and it’s some kind of chemical reaction or something."
Preliminary autopsy results revealed burns on Vanzandt's trachea, which likely mean death was caused by smoke inhalation. But how did the smoke start? Vanzandt was a heavy smoker, so it's possible a lit cigarette is involved. The overall condition of the body and the scene, though, is inconsistent with that explanation, according to Lockhart.
"A cigarette burn will not do that," he said. And the mystery continues ...