"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Mystery of Gabby's Bones

This is one of those compact little stories that, despite its brevity and irritating inconclusiveness, is packed with Weird from start to finish.

In Thermopolis, Wyoming, in 1986, a man who is only known to us as "Gabby"--evidently one of those lost souls so rootless he couldn't bother to burden himself with a full name--left some of his possessions with a friend named Newell Sessions. Prominent among these items was an old steamer trunk. Sessions placed this trunk in a shed and promptly forgot all about it. Six years later, he happened to remember about the trunk, and, out of idle curiosity, decided see what might be inside.

This proved to be something like opening his very own Pandora's Box. Inside the trunk was the skeleton of a human being. His wife--taking "don't get involved" to new heights--urged him to bury the bones and put this nasty little surprise behind them, but Sessions overruled her and contacted police.

Forensic examination showed the bones were of a man in his 50s or 60s. He had been shot in the head from a .25 caliber gun that dated from the turn of the 20th century. The bullet--which was still inside the skull--had been manufactured sometime after 1908. The trunk possibly was used by someone in the Armed Services sometime between the two World Wars. The only other item found in the trunk was an old bag--believed to date from the 1950s--belonging to a grocery store chain called "Hy-Vee's."

The police tracked Gabby down and invited him to share his thoughts about the matter. Gabby either played dumb or was genuinely so--it's hard to tell which. He vaguely said that he had picked the trunk up some 10 or 15 years ago--perhaps in Wyoming. Or Iowa. Or was it Illinois or Oklahoma? He couldn't remember. Although he had carried the trunk around with him for some time, he had never bothered to look inside of it. (Which raises the obvious question of why he had the trunk at all.)

The Sheriff investigating the case thought Gabby's story was as fishy as they make them, but he believed the man was not involved in any murder. From the few facts we have in this story, it is not clear why the officer was so ready to exonerate Gabby.  Perhaps he felt the old boy was too obviously a woolly-brained doofus to pull off even a simple murder.

And...that's it. Who was this man? Who shot him? Who put him in the trunk? Where and how did the trunk fall into Gabby's hands? Was he telling the truth when he said he never looked inside? In any case, why was he carrying it around with him for so long? Was Gabby involved in this man's death, or wasn't he?

We'll likely have to wait for the answers to all these questions until Judgment Day, when, if you believe the Bible, "Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known."

Facial reconstruction of "Trunk Man"


  1. Better than what you see on Storage Wars.

  2. Really? The investigators took Gabby at his word? Someone who didn't even have a last name? Well, I suppose there wasn't any evidence that could have been taken to court against him, so it worked out to the same thing.

  3. Imagining the conversation: "Say, would you mind holding onto this coffin-sized box for me, while I get out of town for a while?"

  4. Note: According to this recent Reddit thread, at least part of the mystery has been solved.



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