California · Newspaper clippings · Religion

Woman gouges eye out with scissors, severs hand with axe after vision from God

August 24, 1938
Merced, California
Ola Harwell (26) gouges an eye from its socket using a pair of scissors and chops off a hand with an axe after receiving a vision while reading the Bible to her husband and children

Ola stated that her right eye and left hand were removed because they had sinned, referencing Matthew 5:29-30 which reads: “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell” (KJV). Ola was also quoted in newspapers as saying she believed the vision was a test from God, stating “I knew the day would come some day. When the moment of the supreme test came I did not hesitate.”

Police initially arrested Ola’s husband Woodrow (20), believing he had attacked Ola. He was released when police determined he was not involved in the self-mutilation. Doctors were surprised at the good condition Ola was in under the circumstances and believed she would be released from the hospital “sooner than most patients.”


Macon Chronicle-Herald. Aug 27, 1938

True crime stories from today:
1st Century AD: The Skinned Saint (2017)
79: The Destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum (2017)
1349: Cologne Massacre (2017)
1885: 2 children butcher third; man shot by neighbor (2017)
1903: 3 Suicides (2017)
1943: Body fished from river (2017)
2010: 2010 San Fernando Massacre (2017)

Horror-related birthdays and release dates:
Today in Horror History: August 24

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