At first, police assumed that the 79-year-old had committed suicide, as he was found alone with a bullet wound in his neck. Then a detective missed a bullet by inches when he opened a booby-trapped wooden chest. Police beat a hasty retreat from the property and called in military experts.
They deciphered an enigmatic series of scribbled clues to locate 19 death traps in walls, ceilings, and household objects. A pile of booby-trapped dinner plates was revealed by the clue, “Cheaper by the Dozen,” a reference to a film in which a child throws a plate at someone’s head. Police speculate that the the notes were intended to assist his failing memory.
Other traps included numerous concealed shotguns triggered by threads, and an exploding crate of beer set to detonate once a certain number of bottles were rmoved. It took three weeks to crack 19 of the 20 clues, and experts were forced to admit defeat on the final note: “The 12 Apostles are ready to work on the pebbles.” Said one, “We have never come across anything like it before. It was all fiendishly clever.”
True to form, the “fiendishly clever” but careless Darwin Award winner was described by neighbors as a taciturn but harmless man who enjoyed puttering in his garage. But relatives say he never forgave his wife for divorcing him twenty years before. Police believe he bagan installing the traps for four years, after losing a lengthy battle to keep his home.