Rope in garbage disposal: what happens?

This passage is from the 2006 book The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century by Howie Carr. It describes the murder by Bulger associates of a woman who worked as a cashier at a mob-controlled jai alai arena.

Okay, it doesn’t actually say so, but it’s implied that she was strangled by a rope being fed into a garbage disposal. This sounds like BS to me. I think if you did that with a normal hemp rope, the disposal blade would simply chop up the fibers and the rope would not be pulled tight at all. If you used a rope made of nylon or something stronger, the blade would jam before it would be pulled very far.

Your opinions would be appreciated, especially from those willing to try it at home (but please, no putting loops around anyone’s neck).

PS I apologize in advance for this thread.

I’ve been naive enough to put trussing twine down the disposal, Vashbul, and it just wound around the mechanism like a cat’s cradle string trick.

Certainly rope would be thicker than twine, but it may very well do the same thing. I don’t know that the disposal actually has a blade; I think it basically pulverises rather than chops.

Here’s a view of a garbage disposal from the top. Hard to picture feeding rope into it and not just jamming the whole thing up. Just yesterday I had to disassemble my own disposal to free a jam caused by a bone chip smaller than a grain of rice.

Even if the rope was somehow tied to it in such a way that it doesn’t tangle or get cut apart, I can’t image that a garbage disposal motor could generate enough force to lift an adult human being in the first place.

If the story is true, I can only guess that the disposal is something other than the ubiquitous In-Sink-Erator that currently dominates the market. I cannot imagine an “ISE” unit doing anything more than twisting about 3-4’’ of rope around the impellers before stalling.

A typical garbage disposal doesn’t do will with fibrous stuff. It’s not a good idea to put whole stalks of celery into them. The fibers don’t get sufficiently cut up and then can clog the drain. I found out the hard way.

So I’ll call BS too. I think the rope would just jam the blades and burn out the motor.

There is not enough room or horsepower for the garbage disposal to act like a winch.

The whole story sounds rather suspect. Outside of mob lynching, who commits murder by hanging? Garroting maybe, but hanging? Trying to picture two men manhandling and stringing up the boyfriend while the woman is presumably trying to fight them off is really odd when there are so many easier ways to commit murder. Even manual strangulation is easier.

As has been noted, the blades in a garbage disposal are not sharp, so cutting a rope is totally out of the question. Garbage disposals work almost more by crushing than by cutting - if you put your hand down there, you can easily feel that there’s nothing even as sharp as a butter knife.

As for dealing with rope, the disposal would wind up the rope as long as there is minimal resistance. There’s no way a home model has the horsepower or torque to strangle someone. I suppose there may be some industrial models that might strangle someone; this one has a 10 HP motor, which is 10-20 times more power than a typical home unit.

Still… I’m not sure I’d put money on it strangling anyone.

There’s the scene at the beginning of “Amazon Women on the Moon” where Arsenio Hall’s tie gets caught in the disposal. Hillarity ensues. No Thelma.

Even banana peels are not recommended in a garbage disposal, let alone corn husks or worse, rope. Possibly it will wrap some before plugging completely Half a dozen cork husks required frequent stops and cleaning. Of course, we don’t know if we’re talking hangman-noose thick stuff or simple nylon parcel or hay bale twine - that should be enough to (a) restrain or hang someone without breaking and (b) do a nice job of feeding the disposal without jamming too badly until the job was done.

Well, at least they didn’t screw her pelvis to a cake stand.

Here’s a follow-up I found: a 2007 article in the Boston Herald, which you will note has details at odds with what was written in the Howie Carr book quoted above.

Again, I apologize: an unpleasant post just got worse.

DNA sought in Miami murders, cops may test Bulger blood ties
By Laurel J. Sweet
Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Miami authorities are testing evidence from the 27-year-old killing of a couple for DNA, on a hunch the grisly torture murders are tied to fugitive South Boston serial killer James “Whitey” Bulger, the Herald has learned.

If DNA is found but no DNA from the 77-year-old Irish mob boss is available to compare it to, the Miami-Dade Police Department will seek a court order to extract mitochondrial DNA from one of Bulger’s five siblings, who include former Massachusetts Senate President William Bulger.

“It’s not as conclusive as nuclear DNA, but it’s very, very good. It would tell us if we could rule (Bulger) out,” said Sgt. Anthony “Tony” Monheim. “There were multiple ligatures that were used, one of which was macrame.”

Monheim retired in 2004 as supervisor of Miami-Dade’s homicide bureau, but has been brought back as a consultant on some 2,500 cold cases, including the Dec. 5, 1980, slayings of Peggy Sue Westcoat, a cashier at World Jai-Alai, and her boyfriend, Gerry Subby, a 27-year-old Conrail conductor from Cleveland, Ohio, who was vacationing at Westcoat’s apartment.

“It was very gruesome,” said Subby’s brother, Richard Subby, 52, who was living in Miami at the time. “Whoever did it had the wherewithal to walk away without fear of reprisal. There’s something more than meets the eye here.”

Monheim suspects at least two killers were present and is therefore also interested in testing the DNA of Bulger’s notorious Winter Hill Gang right-hand man, Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, 72, now serving life in prison.

Among the 10 murders Flemmi has confessed that he and Bulger orchestrated was the 1981 hit on World Jai-Alai owner Roger Wheeler, a millionaire who refused to turn his gaming operation over to the mobsters.

One theory police are pursuing, based on information reported in Herald columnist Howie Carr’s book, “The Brothers Bulger,” is that Bulger and Flemmi were trying to find out from Westcoat what Wheeler may have known about their skimming profits from World Jai-Alai in Connecticut.

Westcoat had just turned 23 when her “partially nude” 5-foot, 2-inch body was found by her brother hanging from the fixtures in her shower, while Gerry Subby, who had also been tortured and choked to death, lay dead in another room, Monheim said.

According to Richard Subby, his brother was dragged from bed tangled in sheets and lashed to the bedroom doorknob. He said Westcoat had one of her forearms fed down a garbage disposal.

Subby said he knows of Bulger, who’s been on the lam for 12 years, but declined to say how or why.

Westcoat was “a very pretty” girl and Subby “was in love,” his brother said. “He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but either way, whoever did this wasn’t letting anybody out of there alive.”

Monheim urges anyone with information about the murders to call Miami-Dade homicide detectives at 305-471-2400.