On February 6, 1921, Thomas Lynn Bradford of Detroit, Michigan methodically sealed off his rented room before blowing out the pilot light on the room’s gas heater. He then turned up the gas jets and quietly waited until the gas asphyxiated him. Though the circumstances of Bradford’s suicide seemed mundane enough to the police investigators, his reason for committing suicide was, well, out of this world.
Bradford, who had claimed to be a former electrical engineer, actor and professional athlete, had devoted the last years of his life to spiritualism. Along with marketing himself as a psychic in the Detroit area, he also conducted numerous lectures on the occult. Though his lectures didn’t appear particularly popular, he still produced numerous (and mostly unpublished) essays on different supernatural topics. Not long before his death, Bradford had written that, “all phenomena are outside the realm of the supernatural” and that science would eventually prove the existence of the soul and its survival after death. All of which led to what would be the most radical scientific test of the paranormal ever attempted.
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