Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Death expert" Bill Bass to examine Houdini's corpse

If the controversial plans to exhume Houdini's body come to fruition, one of the men on the case will be Bill Bass, one of the top "death experts" in the United States. Bass spoke to Wired about his involvement in the Houdini case.

Wired: For the moment, you have another goal -- digging up Harry Houdini. What's the status of that case?
Bass: There are descendants, and they have agreed to the exhumation to settle some of these theories that are out there.
I'm a member of the committee that is supposed to exhume him, once they get all of the legal things taken care of.
A book suggests that instead of dying from a ruptured appendix, he was poisoned. The committee consists of toxicologists, dentists and anthropologists. The toxicologists will take samples to see if there are any chemicals that shouldn't be there.
I'm the one that's supposed to make the positive identification. When he was living, he apparently fractured one of his ankles. Along with other data, we want to make sure there's a healed fracture to the ankle.
Wired: Is there a question about whether the body is really his?
Bass: I don’t think so, but you want to make sure that the person is the person you're supposed to have dug up. You want to make sure that if you're looking for Houdini, that it is Houdini. You don’t want to do all that and then a year from now hear from someone who says they dug up the wrong body.

Houdini's grave in Queens, NY

UPDATE: The Houdini exhumation is back in the news.

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