The Spontaneous Combustion of Mary Reeser

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OK, this is not really a ghost story, but is perhaps the most famous case of human spontaneous combustion. It happened to Mary Reeser at 1200 Cherry St. on July 2, 1951, at about 8 a.m. The incident was first witnessed by Reeser’s landlady Pansy Carpenter, who was attempting to deliver a telegram to Reeser. When no one answered, she tried the door, finding the doorknob warm. She called the police, and inside they found ashes, the remains of Reeser and the chair on which she had been sitting. Part of her left foot (in a slipper) and her backbone were all that remained. Nearby plastic household items were softened and melted from the heat of the combustion. After investigation, some determined that Reeser, who used sleeping pills, fell asleep while smoking and set fire to her clothing. Others disagree with this theory; the truth may never be known.

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    Geographic Information

    1200 Cherry St
    St. Petersburg, FL
    United States

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    27.7842918, -82.62902459999998
    Pinellas County, Florida
    Nearest Towns:
    Saint Petersburg, FL (3.2 mi.)
    Lealman, FL (4.0 mi.)
    West and East Lealman, FL (4.4 mi.)
    Gulfport, FL (5.2 mi.)
    Gandy, FL (5.9 mi.)
    Pinellas Park, FL (5.9 mi.)
    Kenneth City, FL (6.0 mi.)
    South Pasadena, FL (6.9 mi.)
    Saint Pete Beach, FL (8.0 mi.)
    Tierra Verde, FL (8.6 mi.)


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