Smile Politely

A morbid fascination

“Anytime somebody dies and you don’t call the police, it raises a lot of suspicions.”

I saw this quote from an article posted on The article was about a Vandalia (Ill.) mother and son, both meth manufacturers, who hid the remains of James Mundy between two bed frames — covered by a mattress, sheets and pillows — for a few days in their house before police found the body.

The body was found on Saturday, January 22nd, but the police were actually at the house of Sally and William Cyrus on Thursday, January 20th. When the police visited the house, Sally and William told the police they weren’t aware of Mundy’s whereabouts. Mundy was originally reported missing on Wednesday.

Sgt. Jeff Ray, who stated the quotation above, actually returned to their house on Friday, after reports of a disturbance, and once again the mother and son told him that they didn’t know where Mundy was located.

In the article, Ray stated, “We just got a real uneasy feeling,” about the situation, especially after they interviewed Michael Cyrus, the brother of William, who was in jail on drug charges. Police finally returned to the house on Saturday, confronted the mother and son, who broke down and admitted that Mundy was dead in the bedroom.

First of all, the quote from Sgt. Ray is absolutely priceless. “Anytime somebody dies and you don’t call the police, it raises a lot of suspicions.” My first reaction to reading the quote was a blend of “No shit” and quite a bit of laughter. However, the more I read the line, the more jealous I am of not actually coming up with that line on my own.

It might be one of the best quotes that I have ever read, at least in regards to a potential homicide case. Reading the line just made the story that much more absurd. If Edgar Allen Poe were alive, I bet he would cherish this story wholeheartedly. It is absolutely perfect, especially when you throw in a meth lab.

I don’t know if you have been around meth labs, meth users, and/or meth manufacturers or not, but from my own experience, I can tell you that meth users and cooks are the craziest people I have ever known.


I grew up in Jacksonville, Ill., and due to the lack of entertainment and the surplus of anhydrous, the area outlying my town is a prime place for meth. There is even a town, Palmyra, which on its surface appears to be very quiet and comely, but it can be a very dangerous place, especially at night. Let’s just say this much: you can get away with firing automatic weapons — and weapons large enough to pierce a tank’s armor — without much resistance in that town.

I do not want to implicate anyone I know, but I did know three guys who all did time for meth-related charges. One of the guys was a resident of Palmyra, and he was a gem of a character. He once told me that he had been up for nine days straight and reading the Bible religiously. From the if-you-don’t-believe-me-I-might-kill-you look in his eye, I didn’t doubt him one bit.

It was a very tense and awkward scene in the roach-infested apartment where I found myself at the time. It grew even more tense when he started reading Leviticus to me. If I had motioned to leave, I thought he would kill me, so I sat there, along with a few friends, praying that he would get what he needed and leave. Well, he didn’t leave, but he eventually did put the Bible down for a minute, to tell us a story of how his dad made him floor his pickup truck in order to run over a wild turkey so that they could eat it later.

He said his dad was yelling, “Hit it boy! Hit it!” Well, when he hit the turkey, it flipped up and smashed his windshield. He ended the story by stating that it was the most expensive turkey he ever ate. I couldn’t help but almost piss myself. Luckily he was laughing hysterically too, so I grew less afraid of him stabbing me. That was a very long time ago, over ten years, and I don’t associate with those people anymore.


When I was 22, I was living in an apartment in Jacksonville, and my downstairs neighbor was a former meth addict and cook. Jake was 31 and he was missing the lower half of his right leg. He lost part of his leg after suffering a meth-induced seizure.

His seizure, if you may call it that, lasted for more than a day and no one was there to prevent his leg from repeatedly hitting the floor so much that it spun his ankle more than 360 degrees, snapping his tibia and fibula. When he was finally found, his leg could not be saved. It had turned gangrenous and until the day he died, Jake continued to get gangrene, because he couldn’t take care of himself. Sometimes the foyer to the apartment building smelled like death, other times it didn’t.

I felt bad for the guy, because he was trying to turn his life around, but he got stomach cancer, fell off the wagon, and died later that year. I used to take him to the hospital and other times I would offer him food, which he threw up in front of me. That relationship didn’t last too long.

Jake’s meth stories were horrific. I don’t know if I can truly believe everything he told me, but when we talked, I felt like he was confessing his sins to me. He once told me that he took his pit pull to the house of a guy who owed him a great deal of money. When he arrived at the house, he didn’t knock on the door. He just opened the door and let the pit bull go. Jake said the guy’s little girl was in the house at the time and the dog attacked her instead of him.

He said she didn’t die, but was badly injured by the time he got the dog off of her. Jake said that the guy just told the police that a random dog attacked his girl, so Jake wasn’t forced to kill him. What made me believe this story even more was the tear drops that Jake bore on his face.


Anyway, I’m getting a little off track, so I guess my point is that in relation to the suspicious death of Mundy, I don’t know how or why the police didn’t search the home of Sally and William Cyrus when they first went to the house.

I am not a police officer and I don’t have a great deal of legal experience, but from my experience around unsavory individuals, I would think that the police should have been able to smell the meth lab in the basement of the house and then have probable cause to search the house.

Meth manufacturing is extremely toxic and it does give off some putrid smells. When a meth lab explodes, the remains of the lab are hazardous and it takes forever to clean up. If you ever want to buy a cheap house, find a refurbished one that used to have a meth lab in it. Sure, your kids might grow another toe or two, but your mortgage will only be a couple hundred bucks.

I really wish I could have been there to hear and see the conversation between the officers and Sally and William Cyrus on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I can only imagine how odd it must have been. Maybe Sally and William were very polite and professional, or maybe they even had proper ventilation for their lab, but I’m doubting that.

If I had a dead body stuffed under a mattress and a meth lab in the basement, I don’t think I would be able to handle the stress of a police interview. If I could travel through time, I would want to be at the Cyrus’s residence not only to hear the police interviews, but the conversations between the mother and son once the cops left. This story is definitely the modern day version of Poe’s “The Tell Tale Heart.” Even though it is terrible to hear that someone would hide a body in that way, it’s the type of story that is almost unbelievable.


This world that we live in is crazy at times. From Mundy being stuffed between a mattress, or the two brothers that killed nearly the entire Gee family in Beason, Ill. (ed. note: not meth-related), you have to wonder how and why these things happen in this world. Life is just crazy at times. I don’t know why, but these wild tales seem to interest me more than regular news. I have always had some weird fascination with the criminal mind, because it seems that they just live in a polar opposite world, one that can’t be fenced in and controlled. I know that it’s morbid, but I’m fascinated by it.

I remember this couple that moved into a house four houses down from mine when I was ten or eleven years old. The couple was the first interracial couple I had ever met. My friend and I were shocked to see them in our country neighborhood, so we introduced ourselves and struck up a little conversation. The man and wife seemed to be very happy, outside their house, planting flowers. Well, maybe she liked marigolds and he preferred tulips, because the next day the news reported that he repeatedly beat her with a frying pan, chasing her through the house and hitting her in her head each time he caught up to her. Reports stated that blood covered the entire house. She was in a coma for about a month and then she died. I remember riding back to the house, stepping off my bike and just staring at the house, wondering what it looked like and how it all took place.

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