In 1925, Charles Huls, an Ohio State University journalism major from Logan, unexpectedly convulsed and died quickly in an excruciating fashion. His death was attributed to a case of tetanus after having a bad tooth pulled. But it was soon discovered to be something more sinister: Homicide by strychnine poisoning.
It wasn’t until after a second student died, and four others became ill, that the dots were finally connected. Various initial diagnoses — tetanus, viral meningitis, hysteria, food poisoning — were all wrong. A stomach pumping of the sixth victim found the culprit.
In one of Ohio State’s most captivating mysteries, it was found that all six were poisoned after ingesting quinine pills mixed with strychnine, a toxin that causes convulsions and often leads to asphyxiation. The quinine had been prescribed to relieve symptoms of a common cold and had been given out at a campus dispensary. Whether the toxin had been intentionally added — or somehow accidentally mixed in — to the quinine was never determined. No credible suspects emerged.
The randomness of who became ill or who could have been, before all the pills were recalled, terrified the campus community. Investigations proved fruitless.
Two decades ago, The Dispatch asked a forensics psychiatrist