Jonhn Irving Bentley was a Pennsylvanian physician who was found burned to death in his bathroom in December 1966. Many people are burned to death, but Bentley's case was very different from the norm because he did not die in a housefire. Dr Bentley was a victim of spontaneous human combustion.
If you are not familiar with the term I shall now enlighten you. Victims of spontaneous human combustion burst into flames for no reason at all and without the presence of any external heat source. In most cases the fire begins from within the body and when the flames recede the body has been reduced to just ashes and so many body parts. Just part of a leg, in Doctor Bentley's case.
Dr Bentley was last seen alive on December 4th 1966. Some friends had been visiting him and they did not leave his home until about 9 O'clock on the evening. The following morning a meter reader named Don Gosnell arrived at Bentley's home and let himself in so that he could read the meter. Gosnell headed straight for the basement where the meter was kept. While he was down in the basement Gosnell became aware of a strange smell and he also noticed the presence of some light blue smoke. Naturally, the meter reader was curious about this and he went up stairs to investigate.
Gosnel found more smoke in the bedroom and an inspection of the bathroom revealed the doctor's fate. All that remained of John Irving Bentley was the lower half of his right leg. Bentley's foot was still inside his slipper. The rest of Bentley's body had been reduced to ashes, some of which were on the bathroom floor, while the rest of them were down in the basement because the heat from the blazing body had burned a hole in the floor. In life Doctor Bentley relied on a walking frame to get around and the frame lay across the top of the hole in the floor. Strangely the rubber tips fitted to the waking frame remained intact and the bathtub showed only signs of slight scorching, yet there had been enough heat present to burn the hole in the floor and turn Bentley to ashes.
At the time it was thought that he may have set himself on fire with his pipe. This theory was dismissed almost as quickly as it was suggested though, when the doctor's pipe was found on its stand beside his bed in the next room. With no further immediate evidence to go on the coroner recorded a verdict of death by asphyxiation and 90% burning of the body.
Nobody has ever been able to offer a satisfactory explanation for what happened to Doctor Bentley. He is just one of many victims throughout the years, whose death has been chalked up to spontaneous human combustion, a phenomenon that is a mystery in itself and may always be so.