Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Customer Tries to Saw off His Own Arms in Hardware Store

A typical wallboard saw

A typical wallboard saw

In what seems like a case of severe self-mutilation or possibly a suicide attempt, an unidentified man entered a West Covina, California, Home Depot store on April 10, 2013, walked to the tool aisle, started taking out saws and without a word to anyone nearly cut off both his arms — on purpose. It is lucky that the man, who had only a slight pulse when he was found, only had access to hand saws. When police arrived, they found him barely conscious in the tool section in a pool of blood, but he reportedly did not say anything.

Off duty paramedic Art Hurtado, who happened to be shopping in the store when the man, who was not carrying any ID, injured himself, described the scene to KNBC-TV, “The officers had already found the man down, face down, blood all over the store, multiple aisles, and the whole store is in chaos.” Acting quickly, Hurtado worked with store employees to gather ropes and rags from the shelves to use as tourniquets, which may have saved the man’s life.

Police Cpl. Rudy Lopez reportedly said that the man used several saws, including a wallboard saw, to cut all the way “down to the bone,” severing nerves, tendons and arteries in the process. The man, who looks to be in his 40s, survived the emergency surgery but has still not been identified and has not spoken. The store closed for the rest of the day and a spokesperson for Home Depot said they are cooperating with investigators.

The saw Url used to cut off his foot.

The saw Url used to cut off his foot.

In March 2012 an Austrian man, who was faced with being taken off unemployment, decided to permanently disable himself by cutting off his own foot. He did have access to a power saw.

Hans Url reportedly planned the whole thing down to a tee, except the part where he nearly bled to death. When his wife and son were out, he took a compound-miter saw, cut off his left foot above the ankle, tossed it into the fire in his wood stove so it could not be reattached, went to the garage and called emergency services. As planned they arrived in time to save him, barely, airlifted Url and his badly burned foot to a hospital in Graz, where doctors were unable to reattach the foot, and were forced to seal the wound.

What Url didn’t realize is that these days not having a foot doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t work, so he still faced losing unemployment benefits after his recovery and reassessment. Url, who had been on unemployment since 2003, suffered from depression. The case was investigated as an attempted suicide.

Also in 2012, police in Freemont, California, received a call about a man, 20, who cut off his own penis with X-Acto knife. Doctors, who were planning a psych evaluation, reported that at the time the man was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Crimes Below the Belt: Penile Removal and Castration

Crimes Below the Belt II–Beheaded


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