DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Dian Fossey (aged 53)
-American zoologist, gorilla researcher
Dian Fossey (/daɪˈæn/; January 16, 1932 – c. December 26, 1985) was an American primatologist and conservationist known for undertaking an extensive study of mountain gorillagroups from 1966 until her death in 1985. She studied them daily in the mountain forests of Rwanda, initially encouraged to work there by paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey. Her 1983 book, Gorillas in the Mist, combines her scientific study of the gorillas at Karisoke Research Center with her own personal story. It was adapted into a 1988 film of the same name.
DEATH: In the early morning of December 27, 1985, Fossey was discovered murdered in the bedroom of her cabin located at the far edge of the camp in the Virunga Mountains, Rwanda. Her body was found face-up near the two beds where she slept, roughly 7 feet (2 m) away from a hole that her assailant(s) had apparently cut in the wall of the cabin. Wayne Richard McGuire, Fossey’s last research assistant at Karisoke, was summoned to the scene by Fossey’s house servant and found her bludgeoned to death, reporting that “when I reached down to check her vital signs, I saw her face had been split, diagonally, with one machete blow.” The cabin was littered with broken glass and overturned furniture, with a 9-mm handgun and ammunition beside her on the floor. Robbery was not believed to be the motive for the crime, as Fossey’s valuables were still in the cabin, including her passport, handguns, and thousands of dollars in U.S. bills and traveler’s checks.