10 Weird and Tragic Cases of Mistaken Identity

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10 Weird and Tragic Cases of Mistaken Identity

We tend to believe them too easily (or not?), when they say we’re all unique, inimitable individuals. Well, turns out it’s an outrageous fallacy. In our twisted, strange, inexplicable world, while all of us do stand different from each other, we also share many similarities- some of us, a bit too many. From incredible coincidences like similar names, jobs and residencies to similar faces, there’s a truckload of “personal” characteristics that could lead a person mixed up with another. Yes, even dopplegangers are very, very real and the truth is, if yours is given to notoriety, you might as well get your identity proofs straight and lined up. You never know, when they might come handy. But are there any guarantees?

10. Resurrection?

Imagine the happiness and fright of the mother whose son turned up at his very own funeral- healthy and alive! Her first reaction was of course, to faint while the rest of the people scurried about like poor, headless chickens; but later she gave out a statement, saying she was overjoyed, to the local media. It all started with the proclamation of a car washer’s death by the local police. Later, they identified the deceased man as Gilberto Araujo and called up his brother, Jose Marcus, to come up and verify. In reality, the dead person was a doppleganger of Gilberto’s , but the similitude was so sharp, that even Marcus was left deceived. To top this, Gilberto’s family hadn’t seen him in four months and hadn’t thought much of it before this report, since he had always been a whimsical wanderer. So, eventually ceding to believe their loss, the family began to prepare for a funeral and a few hours before the ceremony, Gilberto was spotted strolling in the vicinity by a friend. When told about his tragic “demise”, Gilberto went right away, to his mother’s house to inform her he was as alive as anyone can be.

A sigh of relief? Well, she was knocked out of breath first, but the former came along pretty soon too.

9. Dead man stalking

Or woman.

Recently, a woman named Shannon Renee McNeal was arrested under drug possession charges during a regular traffic stop when an officer informed her she had an outstanding warrant in St. Louis. As her children in the car howled incessantly, she tried to explain to the officer that this was all a mistake. And indeed it was, for the woman in whose name the warrant was issued was called Shannon Raquel McNeal and was long dead. Even after a negative fingerprint test result, Shannon was made to run about the houses of law to get justice. She had to pay to clear her name and yet she remains searchable in certain databases, associated with the felony. She lost her job and she also suffers from blood pressure problems post the incident that altered her life to a full degree.

8. What’s in a name?

Ian “H” Watkins, claiming the “H” to stand for “hyperactive”; known as a Welsh singer, dancer, stage actor and one of the two male backup singers in the English pop group Steps, hyperactively became infamous after his pictures came to be juxtaposed with a story about the Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins, who had recently been held up as a paedophile and charged with 11 sex offences, consisting of two accusations for attempts to rape a baby. This error was made by the very popular E! Entertainment Television, which later offered a public apology to Watkins in court. Further, there was the cacophony of acrimonious tweets, 140-characters-long diatribes on social media that flooded his account, adding to his frustration and harassment. In fact, his image would appear on screens whenever someone would search for stories about his namesake through Google News; the trend of defaming continued by CBS, who again used the Steps singer’s photographs for an article about Ian Watkin’s sentencing.

Naturally, Mr. Watkins Hyperactive holds onto that “H” very, very dearly.

7. Home shoot Home

One would think home is the safest place in the world. But not for the fifteen year old boy who got shot dead in his house in the presence of his parents, as reported from Plainstow estate. Detectives believe that the five men, who attacked the household wearing black balaclavas and armed with knives and a gun, must have been looking for a gang member and instead fired at the teenager in a sad case of mistaken identity. The boy is currently recovering under medical supervision, with his parents keeping a bedside vigil for their son.

6. IdunnowhodunnitbuhIdin

An Albanian man by the name of Altin Sabaudi Hasani was arrested against the charges of premeditated murder, recently in Columbus, Ohio. The man and his attorney vehemently claim that the original documents consisted of details about a different person, called Altin Dinos Hasani and a different birth year; also, the photo line-up in which Hasani was picked by Albanian witnesses was imperfect since he was the only one who looked distinctly different from the others in the group. His lawyer has been very vocal about his consternation at what he deigns is brutal injustice on part of the State, that it should give in so easily to convict a possible victim of mistaken identity for such a grave offence.

5. Wait before you sink your teeth into it.

In records, one can be declared dead while alive- yes, even in this day and age. The story started in a fairytale- Disneyland, LA, to be precise- and turned into a nightmare that will , perhaps in effect, never end. Two best friends, Abby Guerra and Marlena Cantu, both in their early twenties, suffered a formidable car crash that instantly killed one and marked the other with traumatic brain injuries which paralyzed her for life. The former was identified by the state as Abb, and her family was sent condolences as soon as the same became apparent, while the Cantus awaited their daughter’s recovery with bated breaths. Six days later, the world flipped- again. The authorities reported, that due to facial swelling and other deformities inflicted upon her face , Abby had been misidentified as Marlena, who was now declared as the one deceased.

The blunder was discovered via delayed dental reports.

4. Rest in peace? Oh please!

A similar incident as that of Abby Guerra and Marlena Cantu happened with the families of and with Laura VanRyn and Whitney Cerak of Taylor University. The two suffered an accident while their van, carrying them and other students and staff members of which four of the former and one of the latter also died, was hit by a truck. The girls looked very similar, with resembling faces and body types; also, Cerak’s sister had been discouraged from taking a look at the body by an officer- all of which led to the identity switch wherein Whitney was declared dead and VanRyn was said to be the girl recovering under medical care. After 5 weeks, however, the information was disproved and it was revealed that the Ceraks had been bemoaning the loss of a daughter who was very much alive.

VanRyn’s body, buried in the wrong grave, was recently disinterred from the Michigan cemetery where her funeral was held under the fallacy of Cerak’s death.

3. Wrapped Cotton

In year 1984, as she bore the worst nightmare of her life, Jennifer Thompson studied the face of her rapist carefully- determined to have him persecuted. Later, she was shown photographs, from which she identified Robert Cotton as her voileur. A certain Bobby Poole also made an appearance after her verdict and confessed to have been the real attacker. But she denied his claim and her refute led to a second conviction for Robert. About a decade of imprisonment rolled by, and finally, results from a DNA test revealed that Robert was innocent. After his release, he and Jennifer reconciled their differences and till today, remain passionate advocates of eyewitness testimony reforms.

2. DO NOT step up to the streets!

For her children, aged 3, 5 and 10, November 6, 1997 was the last day their mommy ever picked them up from school and the first when they saw what violence looks like when it’s not happening behind a TV screen. That afternoon, Jane Thurgood- Dove, was chased around her car and then shot repeatedly in the head by a Geelong Biker, a hired hitman, while her terrified kids watched the entire episode. The investigations began with two major suspects. One was her husband and the second was a certain policeman thought to be a pining inamorato who may have done the deed in vengeance after she refused to end her marriage for him. The twist arrived when it was revealed that the tragedy that had befallen the Thurgood-Doves, was actually a fatal mistake! Carmel Kypri, wife of former convict Peter Kypri who lived in the same street as Jane, came out of her silence and admitted she may have been the real target of the assailants due to her husband’s animosities with an erstwhile, corrupt lawyer. Neighbours later reported that the Kypris did live with fierce caution, never lingering in the streets or leaving the safety of their home unless necessary.

Apart from the street address, the two women also had a common hairstyle – and that was whodunit.

1. Not Funny

In a West Hollywood apartment, three men were held captive at knifepoint by a man described as “thin, white and in a black shirt” by local informants to the police team that arrived at the scene to rescue the inmates. Moments after their unanswered announcement of arrival, the door flung open and a man bleeding copiously from his neck, rushed out towards the deputies. Behind him, another man, thin and wearing a black shirt, dashed out and lunged at his back. Upon the bleeding man’s sudden arrival, and suspecting him to be the captor, the three deputies(ostensibly acting on pure instinct) ran the men down with series of firing bullets. Both were later sent to medical care, even though the suspected man died at a single shot, while the other survived.

Inside the apartment, two men lay wrestling on the floor, one of them strangling and clawing at the face of the other. With brute force, the deputies managed to pull the two apart and end the assault.

A bloodied knife lay on the floor.

The real perpetrator had been here all the while, trying to choke this other man.

The man lying dead in the hospital was an innocent production assistant for a Comedy Central show called Tosh.0.

Alexander McDonald, the actual assailant, had the last laugh.

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