Tarpon Springs, FL-The Pinellas County Medical Examiner's Office has listed spontaneous human combustion as the cause of Deborah Jeane Palfrey's death.
"I was filling out the death certificate when a bunch of tough looking guys in black suits came in and told me that she was the most clear cut case of spontaneous human combustion they'd ever seen. Who was I to argue?" said Dr. Dirk T. Schlob between bites of a sandwich as he examined a corpse.
The finding eliminates the need for a homicide investigation and makes Palfrey the first person officially killed by SHC, a sketchy phenomenon familiar mostly to pseudoscience crackpots until now.
SHC occurs in the absence of any known heat or combustion source external to the body. It results in an immolation of the body from the inside out, apparently centered in the torso. Hands and feet are often left unscorched while the remainder of the body is reduced to ashes. Usually, little or no damage is caused to the victim's surroundings.
"There is absolutely no contradiction between a finding of spontaneous combustion and the condition of the body as first reported to the public," said Tarpon Springs Police spokesman Harry B. Hemoth earlier today.
"Detectives thought they saw her hanging from the rafters, but she was actually a pile of ashes on the ground with an intact foot sticking out of it. Simple misperception.
"We've had a working theory for years that marijuana plays a role in spontaneous human combustion. When our guys recognized the tell-tale signs, they started searching. Sure enough, they immediately found a bag of it nearby.
"What they thought were suicide notes have since been determined to be grocery lists. She obviously had a severe case of the munchies at the time of her death.
"So we think we may have discovered the cause of spontaneous human combustion. This just points out more clearly than ever the dangers of marijuana," Hemoth concluded.
Police officials have refused to release any photographs of the death scene out of concerns that terrorists might learn how to use marijuana to induce spontaneous human combustion at will.