Scared to Death: An April Fools’ Day Fatality

On April Fools’ Day 1896 newlywed farmer John Ahrens decided to play a prank on his new bride. Wearing a white mask and dressed as a “tramp”, or “hobo”, Mr. Ahrens knocked on the door to his home in the outskirts of Nashville. When his wife answered, he demanded she bring him dinner. Much to his surprise, Mrs. Ahrens was so frightened by her husband’s trick she immediately fell to the floor and died one hour later. The story of this Fatal April Fool was covered across the United States. John Ahrens, who adored his wife, was horrified by her sudden death and overcome with grief. He felt so much guilt for the role he unknowingly played in his wife’s death that he became severely depressed and suicidal, threatening to take his own life on several occasions. Before you play the prank you’ve been planning since last April Fool’s day, think of John Ahrens and remember: April Fools can kill.

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