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Scientists' deaths are under the microscope (11 Microbiologists mysteriously dead within 5 months)
The Globe & Mail ^ | May 4, 2002 | Alanna Mitchell, et al

Posted on 05/05/2002 6:52:36 AM PDT by Seeking the truth

Saturday, May 4, 2002 – Print Edition, Page A1

It's a tale only the best conspiracy theorist could dream up.

Eleven microbiologists mysteriously dead over the span of just five months. Some of them world leaders in developing weapons-grade biological plagues. Others the best in figuring out how to stop millions from dying because of biological weapons. Still others, experts in the theory of bioterrorism.

Throw in a few Russian defectors, a few nervy U.S. biotech companies, a deranged assassin or two, a bit of Elvis, a couple of Satanists, a subtle hint of espionage, a big whack of imagination, and the plot is complete, if a bit reminiscent of James Bond.

The first three died in the space of just over a week in November. Benito Que, 52, was an expert in infectious diseases and cellular biology at the Miami Medical School. Police originally suspected that he had been beaten on Nov. 12 in a carjacking in the medical school's parking lot. Strangely enough, though, his body showed no signs of a beating. Doctors then began to suspect a stroke.

Just four days after Dr. Que fell unconscious came the mysterious disappearance of Don Wiley, 57, one of the foremost microbiologists in the United States. Dr. Wiley, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Harvard University, was an expert on how the immune system responds to viral attacks such as the classic doomsday plagues of HIV, ebola and influenza.

He had just bought tickets to take his son to Graceland the following day. Police found his rental car on a bridge outside Memphis, Tenn. His body was later found in the Mississippi River. Forensic experts said he may have had a dizzy spell and have fallen off the bridge.

Just five days after that, the world-class microbiologist and high-profile Russian defector Valdimir Pasechnik, 64, fell dead. The pathologist who did the autopsy, and who also happened to be associated with Britain's spy agency, concluded he died of a stroke.

Dr. Pasechnik, who defected to the United Kingdom in 1989, played a huge role in Russian biowarfare and helped to figure out how to modify cruise missiles to deliver the agents of mass biological destruction.

The next two deaths came four days apart in December. Robert Schwartz, 57, was stabbed and slashed with what police believe was a sword in his farmhouse in Leesberg, Va. His daughter, who identifies herself as a pagan high priestess, and several of her fellow pagans have been charged.

Dr. Schwartz was an expert in DNA sequencing and pathogenic micro-organisms, who worked at the Center for Innovative Technology in Herndon, Va.

Four days later, Nguyen Van Set, 44, died at work in Geelong, Australia, in a laboratory accident. He entered an airlocked storage lab and died from exposure to nitrogen. Other scientists at the animal diseases facility of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization had just come to fame for discovering a virulent strain of mousepox, which could be modified to affect smallpox.

Then in February, the Russian microbiologist Victor Korshunov, 56, an expert in intestinal bacteria of children around the world, was bashed over the head near his home in Moscow. Five days later the British microbiologist Ian Langford, 40, was found dead in his home near Norwich, England, naked from the waist down and wedged under a chair. He was an expert in environmental risks and disease.

Two weeks later, two prominent microbiologists died in San Francisco. Tanya Holzmayer, 46, a Russian who moved to the U.S. in 1989, focused on the part of the human molecular structure that could be affected best by medicine.

She was killed by fellow microbiologist Guyang (Matthew) Huang, 38, who shot her seven times when she opened the door to a pizza delivery. Then he shot himself.

The final two deaths came one day after the other in March. David Wynn-Williams, 55, a respected astrobiologist with the British Antarctic Survey, who studied the habits of microbes that might survive in outer space, died in a freak road accident near his home in Cambridge, England. He was hit by a car while he was jogging.

The following day, Steven Mostow, 63, known as Dr. Flu for his expertise in treating influenza, and a noted expert in bioterrorism, died when the airplane he was piloting crashed near Denver.

So what does any of it mean?

"Statistically, what are the chances?" wondered a prominent North American microbiologist reached last night at an international meeting of infectious-disease specialists in Chicago.

Janet Shoemaker, director of public and scientific affairs of the American Society for Microbiology in Washington, D.C., pointed out yesterday that there are about 20,000 academic researchers in microbiology in the U.S. Still, not all of these are of the elevated calibre of those recently deceased.

She had a chilling, final thought. When microbiologists die in a lab, there's a way of taking note of the deaths and adding them up. When they die in freakish accidents outside the lab, nobody keeps track.


Suspicious deaths

The sudden and suspicious deaths of 11 of the world's leading microbiologists.

Who they were:

1. Nov. 12, 2001:

Benito Que was said to have been beaten in a Miami parking lot and died later.

2. Nov. 16, 2001:

Don C. Wiley went missing. Was found Dec. 20. Investigators said he got dizzy on a Memphis bridge and fell to his death in a river.

3. Nov. 21, 2001:

Vladimir Pasechnik, former high-level Russian microbiologist who defected in 1989 to the U.K. apparently died from a stroke.

4. Dec. 10, 2001:

Robert M. Schwartz was stabbed to death in Leesberg, Va. Three Satanists have been arrested.

5. Dec. 14, 2001:

Nguyen Van Set died in an airlock filled with nitrogen in his lab in Geelong, Australia.

6. Feb. 9, 2002:

Victor Korshunov had his head bashed in near his home in Moscow.

7. Feb. 14, 2002:

Ian Langford was found partially naked and wedged under a chair in Norwich, England.

8. 9. Feb. 28, 2002:

San Francisco resident Tanya Holzmayer was killed by a microbiologist colleague, Guyang Huang, who shot her as she took delivery of a pizza and then apparently shot himself.

10. March 24, 2002:

David Wynn-Williams died in a road accident near his home in Cambridge, England.

11. March 25, 2002:

Steven Mostow of the Colorado Health Sciences Centre, killed in a plane he was flying near Denver.


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: antrax; death; microbiologists; scientists; wmd
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I had seen various individual articles dealing with this "conspiracy" but this article lists all the deaths in one.
1 posted on 05/05/2002 6:52:36 AM PDT by Seeking the truth
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To: Seeking the truth
A compilation a couple of months ago showed over 30 prominent science-medical individuals who had died, most under unusual or questionable circumstances, in about 4 months time (Oct 2001 to Feb 2002).
2 posted on 05/05/2002 7:02:09 AM PDT by TomGuy
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To: Seeking the truth
. . .bump for meaningful coincidences. . .
3 posted on 05/05/2002 7:12:25 AM PDT by cricket
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To: Askel5; Sabertooth; Miss Marple
ping
4 posted on 05/05/2002 7:16:38 AM PDT by history_matters
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To: Seeking the truth
**Bump**
5 posted on 05/05/2002 7:16:54 AM PDT by TwoStep
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To: Seeking the truth
This theory is B.S. It's kinda like trying to connect hundreds of deaths to the Clintons when they are just coincidences, never mind the astronomical odds. (/sarcasm)
6 posted on 05/05/2002 7:24:16 AM PDT by umgud
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To: TomGuy
I missed that one. Was that also an international source that made that compiliation?
7 posted on 05/05/2002 7:46:42 AM PDT by Seeking the truth
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To: umgud
Whew! I was sure glad to see the /sarcasm at the end of your reply!

BTW, I just read you bio page and I think we were separated at birth.

8 posted on 05/05/2002 7:49:27 AM PDT by Seeking the truth
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To: Seeking the truth
Lots of kindred souls here at FR. Thats why I like it so much.
9 posted on 05/05/2002 7:54:54 AM PDT by umgud
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To: Seeking the truth
I await your posting the articles examining the "mysterious" and "clustered" deaths of car mechanics, schoolchildren, plastic surgeons and dwarf transvestite wheelchair-bound landscape designers.

I'm convinced from your post that it's a much wider conspiracy. There are obvious connections here; after all, out of only 6+ billion people, how could such a gigantic quantity of them (11) be dead microbiologists?

And no need to worry; I've already donned my tinfoil suit.

10 posted on 05/05/2002 7:59:02 AM PDT by Hank Rearden
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To: Hank Rearden
Forced Immunizations In Wisconsin
11 posted on 05/05/2002 8:07:05 AM PDT by joesnuffy
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To: Hank Rearden
I'm convinced from your post that it's a much wider conspiracy

I am not the author of the article. I merely posted it for informational purposes. I found it interesting that a Canadian Newspaper is now reporting this; albeit, tongue in cheek.

12 posted on 05/05/2002 8:14:23 AM PDT by Seeking the truth
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To: Seeking the truth
I'm fully aware you didn't write it; as a FReeper for a few years now, I've finally figured out how to read thread headers. In fact, I'd bet less than 2% of topics are written and posted by the same people.

It's just a silly thesis, that's all.

13 posted on 05/05/2002 8:18:47 AM PDT by Hank Rearden
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To: Hank Rearden
It's just a silly thesis, that's all

It probably is but I remember in my lifetime (I'm 54) a similar strange series of deaths involving potential witnesses in another "Grand Conspiracy" about the assasination of JFK. The DA, Garrison, eventually threw in the towel as there were no witnesses left!

Of course, with the passage of time, we now know that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone...don't we? :)

14 posted on 05/05/2002 8:33:23 AM PDT by Seeking the truth
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To: Hank Rearden
Only children believe in fairy tales and coincidences.
15 posted on 05/05/2002 8:34:08 AM PDT by hoosierham
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To: Seeking the truth
The final two deaths came one day after the other in March. David Wynn-Williams, 55, a respected astrobiologist with the British Antarctic Survey, who studied the habits of microbes that might survive in outer space, ....

This is the key to all the deaths. Clearly, they are all related to an imminent invasion of space aliens, and the deaths are designed to converge on the final episode of the X-Files.....

16 posted on 05/05/2002 8:42:55 AM PDT by longshadow
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To: Seeking the truth; Travis McGee
Looks like microbiology is a hazardous career choice.
17 posted on 05/05/2002 8:45:49 AM PDT by maica
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To: Seeking the truth
"Then in February, the Russian microbiologist Victor Korshunov, 56, an expert in intestinal bacteria of children around the world, was bashed over the head near his home in Moscow. Five days later the British microbiologist Ian Langford, 40, was found dead in his home near Norwich, England, naked from the waist down and wedged under a chair. He was an expert in environmental risks and disease."

When you Absolutely, Positively have to get rid of somebody, leave it to the Brits and Ruskies!!!

18 posted on 05/05/2002 8:48:34 AM PDT by rdavis84
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To: Hank Rearden
"I await your posting the articles examining the "mysterious" and "clustered" deaths of car mechanics, schoolchildren, plastic surgeons and dwarf transvestite wheelchair-bound landscape designers."

Oh? You KNOW the Agenda? How?

'Specially the Dwarf Transvestite Wheelchair-Bound Landscape Designers?

19 posted on 05/05/2002 8:51:51 AM PDT by rdavis84
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To: Seeking the truth
So how many microbiologists of note died, say, during the previous couple of years or so? That might make for an interesting comparison. To see if the death rate has suddenly spiked let's say, especially deaths from unnatural causes...
20 posted on 05/05/2002 8:53:51 AM PDT by mewzilla
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To: longshadow
You gotta watch out for that "black goo". Remember, the Russians were working on it.
21 posted on 05/05/2002 8:55:30 AM PDT by Seeking the truth
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To: maica
I started out as a Biology major way back when Watson & Crick discovered the double helix.
22 posted on 05/05/2002 8:57:04 AM PDT by Seeking the truth
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To: Seeking the truth
Back in 1966 I took a course in parasitology and got an A.Later when I went to Vietnam I wished I hadn't learned so much about malaria and liver flukes,etc.-it was more thn I needed to know.:)
23 posted on 05/05/2002 9:10:20 AM PDT by steamroller
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To: rdavis84; rubbertramp
bttt
24 posted on 05/05/2002 9:14:13 AM PDT by thinden
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To: thinden; rubbertramp
"It's a tale only the best conspiracy theorist could dream up."

Did youse guys do it?

25 posted on 05/05/2002 9:53:41 AM PDT by rdavis84
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To: rdavis84
When you Absolutely, Positively have to get rid of somebody, leave it to the Brits and Ruskies!!!

The Israelis are pretty good at it, too: Gerald Bull, Gunsmith

26 posted on 05/05/2002 9:59:37 AM PDT by The Great Satan
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To: Seeking the truth
Seeking the Truth bump...
27 posted on 05/05/2002 10:07:39 AM PDT by ez
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To: umgud
This theory is B.S. It's kinda like trying to connect hundreds of deaths to the Clintons when they are just coincidences, never mind the astronomical odds. (/sarcasm)

HehHeh!

Here's my guesses:

1) Al-Queda?

2) Saddam?

3) Al Gore?

4) VRWC Inc.?

28 posted on 05/05/2002 10:14:21 AM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham
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To: Seeking the truth
Also posted here:

Scientists' deaths are under the microscope

See for additional comments

29 posted on 05/05/2002 10:18:13 AM PDT by null and void
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Comment #30 Removed by Moderator

To: mewzilla
So how many microbiologists of note died, say, during the previous couple of years or so?

You do not need to know that death rate, only the death rate among the general population to determine the statistical likelihood of this cluster of deaths happening in the observed timeframe. This post from Slashdot is a reasonable back of the envelope estimation of the odds.

For those who do not want to click through, here is the executive summary:

Death rate among 45-64 cohort due to all causes is 708 per 10,000 in general population (source). Factor out medical causes, and it reaches about 200 per 10,000. About 20,000 microbiologists working in the United States. Premise: about half (or 10,000) are over 40. Premise: about half of this over-40 group are prominent enough to attract attention, leaving about 5,000. Premise: rate of death amongst microbiologists is roughly the same as the general population. Observed time frame is 5 months; annual rate of death would be about 10, over 5 months would be about 4.2 deaths.

Using a Poisson distribution ("bell curve" in layman's terms, though that is a rather extreme oversimplification), the probability of 11 deaths in 5 months is about 0.2%. Two-tenths of one percent is about the same probability of drawing two pairs in seven card stud poker, or less than the chance of a major hurricane with 111 mph winds or faster passing within 75 miles of Portland, Maine in any one year.

31 posted on 05/05/2002 10:20:00 AM PDT by tyen
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To: Scuttlebutt
No one listens to me.
I tried to tell them 1848 would be a bad year.
Sure enough, everyone born that year died!
32 posted on 05/05/2002 10:25:12 AM PDT by ofMagog
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To: Seeking the truth
BUMP
33 posted on 05/05/2002 10:41:40 AM PDT by Aurelius
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To: Mad_Tom_Rackham
Yup......Al Queda or Saddamn
34 posted on 05/05/2002 10:46:25 AM PDT by umgud
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To: tyen
I'm not sure I agree with your premise. Say for example, microbiologists drive more than the general populace. Wouldn't that increase their likelyhood of being in a car accident? I doubt a guy who travels a lot/goes to foreign countries/risks exposure to dangerous pathogens is at the same risk as a small-town librarian who never goes anywhere. But hey, I got a C in statistics, so what do I know? Let me see the death rate and causes for other ex-microbiologists. That'll simplify things for me :)
35 posted on 05/05/2002 10:49:26 AM PDT by mewzilla
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To: tyen
Your numbers are about right, but the hurricane example points up the flaw in the argument. What are the chances that a hurricane will pass within 75 miles of any city comparable to Portland, Maine in hurricane susceptibility in any given year? Probably quite high. The problem is that no adjustment is made for the vast array of equally improbable and retrospectively striking coincidences that could occur in the universe of observables. This problem plagues scientific research (especially medical research) and explains why false positive results are far more common than one would believe if one took published P values at face value.
36 posted on 05/05/2002 11:02:44 AM PDT by The Great Satan
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To: Seeking the truth
Posted this before here:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/678144/posts

But it deserves posting again. BTTT. Not to make light of it, but reminds me of that old tv show "V", where the aliens killed all the scientists.

37 posted on 05/05/2002 11:03:56 AM PDT by Nachum
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To: Nachum
>Not to make light of it, but reminds me of that old tv show "V", where the aliens killed all the scientists.

Two months ago, in New Scientist magazine, they reported how a few years ago, France backed out on a deal to supply nuclear technology to Iran. After France announced their intentions to back out of the deal, a bunch of "random" terrorist attacks inside France killed a four or five scientists and businessmen behind the decision to get out of the deal. After the deaths -- which the French press insisted were unrelated -- the French government overturned its own plans to back out of the deal and DID supply the technology and know-how to Iran.

I'm sorry to say, but in the modern world, terror works.

When a bunch of smart people die -- and it's happened in the West before, too, remember all those "star wars" specialist who died in freaky ways? -- it's almost certainly not "coincidence."

Mark W.

38 posted on 05/05/2002 11:21:54 AM PDT by MarkWar
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To: tyen
Just goes to show
statistics can be used to prove
or disprove anything.

I wish someone would start a study
of mysterious deaths
amongs prominent veterinarians.

I suspect the results would be surprising.

39 posted on 05/05/2002 11:27:12 AM PDT by Nogbad
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To: ofMagog
"Sure enough, everyone born that year died!"

Inscription on the tombstone of a hypochondriac: "See, I told you I was sick!"

--Boris

40 posted on 05/05/2002 11:39:06 AM PDT by boris
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To: Nogbad
Another poster who likes to put his posts in blank verse!?!

A suspicious coincidence.

41 posted on 05/05/2002 11:39:53 AM PDT by boris
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To: The Great Satan
>The Israelis are pretty good at it, too: Gerald Bull, Gunsmith

Now, now.

Nobody knows exactly who killed Gerald and nobody knows exactly why. (Silly "supergun" speculation aside...)

Mark W.

42 posted on 05/05/2002 11:56:25 AM PDT by MarkWar
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To: alamo-girl
BIG BUMP.
43 posted on 05/05/2002 12:09:03 PM PDT by vannrox
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To: boris
Inscription on the tombstone of a hypochondriac: "See, I told you I was sick!"

BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Good one!:O)

44 posted on 05/05/2002 12:18:00 PM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham
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To: Seeking the truth
You gotta watch out for that "black goo". Remember, the Russians were working on it.

Yup. "Purity" it is called in the "X-Files"...

45 posted on 05/05/2002 2:02:14 PM PDT by longshadow
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To: umgud;Seeking the truth
Lots of kindred souls here at FR. Thats why I like it so much.

Second that.

46 posted on 05/05/2002 2:10:34 PM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham
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To: Hank Rearden
I await your posting the articles examining the "mysterious" and "clustered" deaths of car mechanics, schoolchildren, plastic surgeons and dwarf transvestite wheelchair-bound landscape designers.

IS THIS TRUE!!!?????

OMG! Things are FAR WORSE than I thought.

Heading for the shower...

47 posted on 05/05/2002 2:13:17 PM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham
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To: tyen
Ah, the old Poisson distribution!

I received my MBA back in 1977 and have not physically done the math in quite a few years but I understand the stats, having taken numerous courses at the under, post and doctoral level.

At face value, it warrented a raised eyebrow.

Thanks for putting a number on it.

48 posted on 05/05/2002 2:19:04 PM PDT by Seeking the truth
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To: tyen
Good Job! You've explained it very well. I'll get out of the shower now.
49 posted on 05/05/2002 2:19:13 PM PDT by Mad_Tom_Rackham
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To: longshadow
Only a couple of episodes left.......
50 posted on 05/05/2002 2:20:23 PM PDT by Seeking the truth
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