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Besides the fact that Opus is the name of a cartoon penguin, it also refers to Ronald Opus, the star of one of the best urban legends of all times; if in fact it is an urban legend, that is.

In 1994, The Story of Ronald Opus began to circulate the Internet as one of the most bizarre deaths of the year. It was, however, originally told by Dr. Don Harper Mills, the president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences at an awards dinner in 1987.

In the story, a young man by the name of Ronald Opus, jumps from a building with the intention of committing suicide. On his way down he is shot in the head. It’s then noted that a safety net had been erected on the 8th floor, such that if he had not been shot, he would not have died, thus ruling his death as murder. More facts arise in the case, however.

The man on the 9th floor who fired the gun had a tendency to wave an unloaded gun at his wife. His initial impression had been that on the day of Opus’ death, the gun had not been loaded.

Weeks prior to the incident, the couple’s son had been seen loading the gun. It was then found that his parents had cut off his financial support, and he loaded the gun for revenge. So far, the death would still have been murder…however; the son was one Ronald Opus, who later became so depressed due to his financial support being cut off that he decided to kill himself. The case was closed as a suicide.

Snopes, a website that debunks urban legends and other myths claims that Ronald Opus—along with his odd death—are entirely made up. According to Snopes, Dr. Mills did in fact tell the story, but he made it up as entertainment and an example of how if a few facts are altered the legal consequences change.

When I discovered that the story was likely not true, I was quite disappointed. When I came across it in 1997, it amused me to no end and gave light to an otherwise dark point in my life. I am unsure of the credibility of Snopes, and hope that they are wrong and the story is in fact true.

*The story of Ronald Opus in no way whatsoever belongs to me. It belongs to Dr. Mills. My purpose for writing this is that I find it amusing and know quite a lot about it; no infringement of any sort is intended.

* Source: http://www.snopes.com/horrors/freakish/opus.asp

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