From the December 2003 Idaho Observer:

Daily records indicate nationwide epidemic of unexplained deaths

Group seeks CDC investigation and to alert nation's medical examiners

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Between July 11 and November 15, 2003, the Orange County Register listed 192 people in the area as dying “of causes yet to be determined.”

Orange county resident Barbara Benson took it upon herself to scan the obituaries in the Orange County Register every week day for five months. On some days as many as seven people, with ages ranging from one year to 89 years, were listed as dying from causes that were unknown at the time of death. “Ever since reading about aspartame in The Idaho Observer about six months ago, I began noticing that quite a few people in our county were dying 'of causes yet to be determined.' That means people are dying suddenly and the medical examiners don't know why,” commented Benson.

Benson's observations are supported by a report recently released by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) that estimates nearly half a million Americans die each year from sudden cardiac death (SCD). SCD, which is now the nation's number one killer, is characterized by the heart stopping suddenly without warning.

“I believe that the artificial sweetener aspartame is playing an active role in this epidemic of unexplained deaths,” commented H.J. Roberts, MD.

Dr. Roberts is the author of Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, the world's most comprehensive analysis of aspartame and its toxic effects on the human body. He has drafted a memo explaining the effects of aspartame on the human body and what medical examiners should be looking for in determining aspartame-related deaths.

Mission Possible director Betty Martini immediately recognized the value of Benson's observations. She requested that copies of the raw data be forwarded to the CDC with a note alerting the agency that it should investigate the epidemic of unexplained deaths in Orange County. Attached to the note will be Dr. Robert's memo.

If the CDC declines to investigate Orange County's unexplained death epidemic, Martini proposes that people all over the country duplicate Benson's methods of collecting raw data for a one-month period. “At the end of one month, if the CDC hasn't begun a formal investigation of 192 unexplained deaths in one county, we can flood the nation's epidemic watchdog with public records showing a pattern of unexplained deaths in counties all over the country,” she said.

To collect the data, Benson simply read the obituaries five days each week. She clipped every obituary that failed to identify the cause of death and taped them to pieces of paper in chronological order. She then labeled each one with the date and underlined the age of each deceased person. She also underlined, “causes yet to be determined.”

Copies of Benson's raw data will be forwarded to the CDC in Atlanta and the agency will be given until Dec. 22 to respond as to whether or not it will investigate Orange County's rash of unexplained deaths. If the agency declines, Martini and Mission Possible will put out a nationwide alert asking Americans to cut and clip obituaries during the month of January, 2004. “If we send the CDC evidence that thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Americans simply dropped dead during the month of January, how can it deny the need to investigate the causes of this mysterious epidemic?” Martini asked.

This release and the letter to CDC acting director Dr. Julie Gerberding is currently available at With the help of concerned citizens, Mission Possible intends to make sure medical examiners realize the extent of our nation's sudden death epidemic and have the tools to identify the causes of these previously unexplained deaths in America.



Julie Gerberding, Acting Director
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Rd. NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30333

Certified Mail

Dear Doctor Gerberding:

Enclosed for your consideration are raw data obtained from official records published in the Orange county Register between July 11, 2003 and Nov 15, 2003. The data indicates that 192 persons in that area, between the ages of 1 and 89, died of “causes yet to be determined” during that five-month period.

It seems basic journalistic style was suspended so that even general causes of death such as heart failure, kidney failure, trauma, cancer or asphyxiation were not mentioned.

The cause of death was unknown to the medical examiners in scandalously high numbers.  In the interest of public health and safety, it would appear that an epidemiological investigation is in order for Orange county.  It would also appear that perhaps the county's medical examiners should undergo some continued education training so that they may be more conclusive as to the causes of death in future cases.

There is a specific concern here because 2/3rds of the adult population and 40% of the children are using aspartame.  This neurotoxic drug causes an irregular heart rhythm and interacts with all cardiac medication.  It damages the cardiac conduction system and has been demonstrated to cause sudden death.

The CDC's 1999 Mortality Statistics about sudden cardiac death listed heart disease as the #1 killer accounting for 30.3% of all deaths.  Of these, 462,340 were from sudden cardiac death (SCD) -- 19.2% of fatalities that year.  Interestingly, second is the 23% who die of all cancers. However, these are not listed by cancer type, but are lumped together in the National Vital Statistics tabulation.  No individual cancer type equals the monstrous 19.2% who succumb to sudden cardiac death.

An interesting comment from HeartCenterOnline for cardiologists and their patients (3/2/03) is that most people (85%) cannot get help fast enough, making SCD the leading cause of death in the world's industrialized countries.  With 2/3rds of Americans using a neurotoxin that causes SCD, and well-conditioned athletes suddenly dropping dead, medical examiners should be made aware of what to look for. Enclosed is a memo from H. J. Roberts, M.D., author of Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, Dr. Roberts may be contacted at (800) 827-7991.

It would appear the CDC has proved its own point regarding SCD; now it must find out what is causing it.

Dr. Roberts states that imaging studies of the brain in patients with methyl alcohol toxicity have revealed areas of presumed infarction (McLean l980; Shwartz l981).  Methanol intoxication causes symmetrical necrosis and hemorrhage of the putamen.  Marked reductions of both cerebral blood flow and cerebral oxygen consumption have been documented during methanol poisoning.

Furthermore Dr. Roberts says that marked reductions of both cerebral blood flow and cerebral oxygen consumption have been documented during methanol poisoning.

Edema of the brain in methanol poisoning has been found in humans and animals (Menne l938; Bennet l953; Erlanson l965; Rao l977).

Rao et al (l977) noted significant alterations in brain water, sodium and potassium when methanol was administered to male rabbits and monkeys.  Concomitant vascular stasis was evidence by colloidal carbon studies.  These changes occurred in both acute and chronic studies (With chronic administration, the concentration of blood methanol progressively increased after the third week, suggesting partial inhibition of methanol degradation).  (page 677)

Aspartame is a molecule composed of three components, aspartic acid (40%), an excitotoxin, free methyl alcohol (10%), a neurotoxin, and phenylalanine (50%), as an isolate, is neurotoxic.  In molecular chemistry it would be one molecule of aspartic acid to one molecule of methanol to one molecule of phenylalanine.  So in reality there is quite a lot of free methyl alcohol.

During an autopsy, medical examiners should be looking for findings of necrosis, brain edema and hemorrhage in the brain, a dilated large heart (cardiomegaly) and cardiomyopathy.  There would be pulmonary edema, and usually a fatty liver because of the toxicity aspartame causes to that organ.  Metabolic acidosis would also be present.

An autopsy on Charles Fleming, a body builder and basketball player, found acute and chronic methanol poisoning.  He was drinking 10 diet drinks and other aspartame products daily, as well as Gatorade and creatine before he died suddenly. His wife was convicted of murdering him and has been sentenced to serve 50 years in a Virginia prison as a scapegoat for the manufacturers marketing the methanol-containing products he consumed.

Dr. Roberts has written the FDA for years asking why a product used by so much of the population is allowed to have free methyl alcohol in it.  The FDA refuses to answer.  Aspartame experts have written affidavits that Charles Fleming died of aspartame but still Diane Fleming has remained in prison for a crime she didn't commit. See The Idaho Observer [] for a June, 2003 article on aspartame, sudden death and the Diane Fleming story.

The case of Nathaniel Jones recently made the headlines. Jones died after being beaten severely by police. Blood test confirmed he was on two illegal drugs. Methanol was also present. Why was there methanol in his blood -- was he too an aspartame victim?  And was this the cause of death? 

You can obviously see our concern when so many people are dropping dead and sudden cardiac death is not tracked or its cause(s) investigated by the proper authorities.  Please indicate by return email, FAX, letter or phone call that you intend to investigate the curious number of unexplained deaths in Orange county. Please also respond within five days of receiving this certified letter.



Don Harkins, The Idaho Observer
PO Box 457
Spirit Lake, Idaho 83869
Ph. (208) 255-2307; FAX (208) 255-2607

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