COLUMBUS, Ohio –
In an extremely bizarre incident, a 35-year-old man from Radcliff, Kentucky has died from the medical phenomenon known as Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC) while staying at a Holiday Inn in Columbus, Ohio, just hours after breaking the world record for most White Castle hamburgers eaten at a competitive eating competition, sponsored by the organization known as Major League Eating.
Raymond Carter Fitzgerald traveled to Columbus from Kentucky to compete in the 34th annual National White Castle Hamburger Eating Challenge, which took place yesterday afternoon at Ohio State University. Fitzgerald went on to break Joey Chestnuts record of 103 White Castles eaten in 8 minutes by consuming 107 burgers in just under 7 minutes. What happened just 4 hours later has puzzled and shocked medical experts, while proving ultimately tragic for friends and relatives of Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald’s girlfriend, Molly Owenton, also of Radcliff, Kentucky, told police she returned to their hotel room at about 11:15 pm after making a trip to a local Walgreens to pick up a bottle of Pepto Bismol, stating that Fitzgerald had been complaining of excruciating abdominal pain and gas, when she terrifyingly discovered the deceased body of her beloved, which was still smoldering and smoking when she arrived.
Columbus Police Department spokesperson Edward Stanton told members of the Associated Press that it was a gruesome scene.
“Upon entering the hotel room of Mr. Fitzgerald and Ms. Owenton, police officers reported that the offensive smell was so overpowering that several officers retreated to their squad cars to retrieve their police-issued gas masks. The body of Mr. Fitzgerald continued to smolder for hours. His hands and feet were completely burned off, almost as if he had been electrocuted,” Stanton said. “After hours of investigating, our forensic expert declared that this was, indeed, a very rare case of what is known as Spontaneous Human Combustion. It was also decided that there was no apparent external source of ignition, and the body somehow ignited itself from within. At this time, and after interviewing Ms. Owenton, officials speculate that the build up of gas in the abdomen was most likely the culprit.”
When asked about the case, White Castle management expressed their condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Fitzgerald, and added that they would undoubtedly be sending out White Castle gift certificates to the family for the holidays.
Officials have stated that the case, and its investigation, are ongoing, as police correspond with scientific experts from Ohio State University. Foul play is not suspected.