10 Oct

31 Ghost Stories – Day 10: 2 dead in the Cokeville school bombing

Posted by Bryan White | Sunday October 10, 2010 | 31 Ghost Stories

Cokeville Elementary bombingI’ve been spooking your shit and freaking myself out these last nine days. I figured on this, the 1/3 mark, I should ease up and lay something a little positive on you. It’s just as paranormal, just as weird and just as unexplained. Oh, and people still die in this one but at least it’s the right people who died.

On May 16th, 1986 in Cokeville, Wyoming, a husband and wife team-up of lunatics, David Young and his wife Doris strolled into the Cokeville elementary school armed to the teeth, carrying a manifesto called ZERO EQUALS INFINITY (unsurprisingly archived at the Church of the Subgenius website) and a homemade gas bomb that was powerful enough to destroy most of the school, burn the remaining structure to the ground and kill everyone inside. Attached to David Young’s hand was a string that when pulled would detonate the bomb immediately. The Youngs took the school office hostage first and announced that “This is a revolution.” The Youngs then went room to room and collected somewhere between 154 and 167 hostages depending on who you ask, basically everyone in the school. Once they had everyone gathered in a single room, the stand off began. David Young announced to police that if he did not receive $300m in ransom and a phone call to President Reagan, he would detonate the bomb.

Cokeville ClassroomWho were the Youngs, though? Unfortunately, the resolution of this standoff, as so many do, didn’t leave the Youngs with any opportunity to explain themselves since Doris was partially blasted to pieces, burned horribly and then shot by her husband and then David shot himself but what is known is that in 1979, David Young was a deputy in the Cokeville police department that was fired for misconduct. His Zero Equals Infinity manifesto is dated 1978 and judging by its rambling, incoherent nature, it can only be assumed that David Young was fired for problems related to mental illness. Since his wife then helped him take a school full of children hostage with the intention of killing everyone, the same assumptions can safely be made about her own mental health. Though the Youngs disguised this attack as a political action based on the words in a ca-razy terrorist manifesto, it’s pretty clear that this was an act of revenge against the community that had turned them out. After all, the Youngs had returned to Wyoming from Tucson, Arizona to exact their revenge.

Doris Young lies dead after being killed by her own bomb in Cokeville, WyomingFor two and a half hours the Youngs made their demands and held out, waiting to talk to the President and waiting to receive a suitcase full of sweet cash money. At some point, David decides that he probably shouldn’t have had that extra glass of orange juice that morning and heads for the can, leaving the detonation string tied to his wife’s hand. Moments, maybe seconds after he leaves the room, one of the teachers complains of a headache and gestures with her hand that her head hurts. For reasons unknown, Doris Young makes the same hand gesture. She raises her hand to her head and then, oh shit, pulls the detonator string, setting off this giant god damn bomb in a room full of people. Something really strange happened, though. The bomb went off like it should have but it only partially detonated. Doris was caught in the explosion and was hurt very, very bad. David Young raced back into the room to find what was left of his wife writing on the floor in agony, burning and shot her to put her out of her misery. He then left the room and shot himself in the bathroom. Here’s where it starts to get awesome: Not one of the children or the faculty were killed. 79 were admitted to area hospitals for flash burn injuries but not one was hurt severely. The bomb did manage to blast out the windows and in the ensuing chaos and cover created by the black smoke of the bomb, the hostages escaped through the broken windows to safety.

The Cokeville figure, said to be an imprint left on the wall during the blast of an angelIn the aftermath, the children began to tell stories. Many of them described a beautiful, radiant woman in the room with them during the last moments of the crisis who advised them to move toward the windows and to stay on one side of the room. She reassured them that the crisis was almost over and that everything would be okay. Other kids desribed seeing what they clearly described as angels watching over each one of them. Other kids explained that dead grandparents appeared to them and told them to take cover in the safe side of the room and told them everything was going to be fine. Still, others saw nothing but explain that they heard disembodied voices telling them that the bomb was about to go off but they would be alright and the Youngs would be killed. Of course, none of the adults reported any of this and it’s easy to attribute a range of children explaining that angels or benevolent spirits protected them to mass hysteria, particularly in the wake of something so traumatic. It’s also easy to dismiss the malfuction of the bomb as a result of a crazy person making a crude bomb at home but in a small room packed with over 150 people how does one person, the bad guy, wind up the only casualty? Some people call this sort of thing a miracle. Divine intervention is only described the actual hand of God descending from the heavens to swat away evil in The Bible. Modern day miracles are often described in fantastic terms but even in their wildest and holy details, the mechanisms of The Host and God are often described in vague, very abstract ways. This is no different. The consistencies between the children’s stories were startling since the most common result of witness accounts from kids tends to vary wildly and often contain contradictory details from one kid to the next.

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