1959: Ricky P. Pruitt’s Fiery Death

According to Allen Eckert writing in 1964, in the spring of 1959, 4-month-old Ricky Pruitt of Rockford, Illinois, USA, "burst into fire and burned to death in his crib." Neither the crib nor the bedding on it were burned.

        In 1964, Vincent Gaddis was a little more reserved in describing the incident, stating that Ricky P. Pruitt "died of critical burns of undetermined origin," and states that Pruitt's clothing, crib, and the bedding were not scorched.

        Most recently, Larry Arnold in 1995 states that Rickey Paul Pruitt mysteriously burned to death in his crib, and that the crib, bedding, and the clothing on Pruitt were all undamaged.

Notice Anything?

        Notice that Pruitt's name changes just a little with each reference... but also notice what goes unburned. Eckert stated that the crib and bedding -- which he called "bed clothing" -- were undamaged. Gaddis expanded this to include the clothing worn by baby Pruitt, likely by taking Eckert's "bed clothing" to mean "bed, clothing". So in one step we go from a baby burning in an unburned crib, to a baby burning in unburned clothes... which sounds more paranormal.

        I have been unable to find any reference to Pruitt's death previous to Eckert's mention of it, and I suspect a baby burning to death would make it to at least one newspaper, somewhere.

        The account of Pruitt's death first appears in Allen Eckert's 1964 article regarding spontaneous human combustion -- "The Baffling Burning Death," published in TRUE Magazine in May 1964 -- in a section wherein Eckert argues that not all reported cases of SHC involve older people; and 4-month-old Ricky Pruitt is Eckert's sole example to show his argument is right.

        Unfortunately for Pruitt's story, Eckert's article has already been implicated in creating fake stories just to support his arguments [follow the See Also link below for more on that]. Until an earlier source for the death of Ricky Pruitt appears, I'm marking this account as a "False Lead," an event that never happened.