ep192 I had to identify my husband’s head – a survivor’s story

A thousand questions littered my brain.  The three letter word everyone waited for was lodged in my throat.  My stomach wanted to heave.  My knees buckled.  Arms supported mine.  I was a marionette.  They waited patiently but no words came. The procedure was repeated.  I again faced the decomposing, torn mask of a face that used to smile at me, at a mouth that offered encouragement.  I finally blurted “Yes!”

In her own words

This arcane cavity was a vault, a cage, a bunker. I felt cooler and weaker with each footstep.  We stopped.  I tried not to breathe.  The pungent odor inside that chamber was a suffocating mix of used kitty litter, rotten eggs and unwashed Styrofoam meat tray from the market carelessly left out overnight.  Disinfectant did not neutralize the foulness of death, grief, or confusion.  He’d been submerged inside a desolate, warm, bog for a week before being exhumed.

 My eyes closed reflexively. Detective Landeros leaned in and quietly said: “When you’re ready.”

 I felt I’d never be ready.  How can a wife ever be prepared to gaze upon the bludgeoned, detached head of her spouse five feet away? Seconds passed like minutes. My eyes slowly opened whereupon I saw Al’s contorted face, supported by a white sheet wrapped tightly around his severed neck. His eyeglasses were missing.  His face was knotted, his eyes puffy and black, incongruent with his light gray skin. Wide lacerations crisscrossed his head like a network of roads. His mouth was open and round with a swollen tongue which protruded off to the right at an angle. A cavernous gash framed his badly swollen right eye where a section of scalp was missing.

It was horrific. He was badly defaced. What did he do to deserve this viciousness?  What kind of monster inflicted this destruction?

A thousand questions littered my brain.  The three letter word everyone waited for was lodged in my throat.  My stomach wanted to heave.  My knees buckled.  Arms supported mine.  I was a marionette.  They waited patiently but no words came. The procedure was repeated.  I again faced the decomposing, torn mask of a face that used to smile at me, at a mouth that offered encouragement.  I finally blurted “Yes!”

News Report:

On a summer day in July 1985, police made a grisly discovery in Northern Michigan: a satchel buried a mere couple of feet beneath the forest floor. A collection of garbage bags were inside, each one containing the severed limbs of a human body. The hands, feet, and head all belonged to Alan Canty—a local man who had disappeared the previous week. The rest of Canty’s blood-encrusted remains would be found days later, scattered across the state.

To his family and friends, Alan Canty was a married, successful psychologist from the affluent Grosse Pointe neighborhood. Behind closed doors, he was something else entirely: the “Sugar Daddy” to teenage sex worker Dawn Spens. Over the course of their two-year relationship, Canty showered her with gifts, shelling out thousands to support her and her pimp-boyfriend John Carl Fry—who was known as “Lucky.”

But even a man as wealthy as Alan Canty could not maintain such a lifestyle. When he revealed that his money had run out, Spens and Fry’s patience had run thin. Furious that Canty wanted to end the relationship, Fry attacked the psychologist with a baseball bat. The grisly mutilation that followed, all done with a serrated Ginsu knife, was also Fry’s handiwork.

John Carl Fry received a life sentence for his crimes. Spens, who was just 19 at the time of the murder, escaped with dismemberment charges and probation. Today, she walks free.  Partial Reprint from https://the-line-up.com/murder-and-dismemberment-in-the-motor-city 

Today’s Guest

Jan Canty, Ph.D. holds a Ph.D. in psychology. In 1985 her spouse was murdered and we were asked to identify his severed head in the morgue a week after he was exhumed. She has since written a yet-to-be-published book entitled Till Death We Did Part: Memoir of Deception, Murder, and Recovery








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