Something strange is going on...
Danny Vanzandt, a 57-year-old man, is believed to have died of spontaneous human combustion, according to Sequoyah County, Oklahoma, Sheriff Ron Lockhart, who spoke to to 5News.
At around 10:50 Monday morning, emergency crews responded to a home after a neighbor reported smoke coming from the house. Police found what they thought to be “just trash that was burning on the kitchen floor.” It turned out that it was a body, deceased and badly burned.
But police were baffled to find there was no fire damage to the furniture or anywhere else in the house, and no signs of a struggle. Sheriff Lockhart, when asked if he was serious about his suspicions that this may be a case of spontaneous human combustion, affirmed that he was. Even though "there’s only about 200 cases worldwide," he said, they "haven't ruled it out."
The victim was an alcoholic and smoker, and his body has been sent to the medical examiner in Tulsa.
In a phone interview with 5News, available here, Lockhart said the body was burned in a way that makes an accident, such as dropping a cigarette on himself, or the fact that he was often drunk and thus probably highly flammable, not possible.
Most people, and scientists, don't believe in spontaneous human combustion, or SHC, to those in the know. The first report dates back to 1641, according to History.com. But SHC really started to get some play when Charles Dickens used it to kill off a character in Bleak House, and he backed it up with research of 30 historical cases.
In 1951, the death of Mary Reeser in St. Peterburg, Florida, captured the attention of the nation and was suspected to be the result of spontaneous human combustion. The story goes like this: Reeser's landlord came to deliver a telegram and found the doorknob to be incredibly hot and called the police. Reeser's remains were practically all ashes, except part of her foot in a slipper and her backbone. Also found among her ashes was her skull, and for some reason, it was shrunken. The FBI hypothesized that she fell asleep while smoking and ignited her clothes, though many others, including physical anthropologist Wilton M Krogman, who was frequently consulted by the FBI, though not on this case, dispute this by citing the lack of evidence of a fire within her apartment.
Here io9 reports 10 "actual" cases of human combustion, one of which has a witness. You be the judge.