Mysterious nature of stiletto-heel-to-the-head assault reports

This photo shows stiletto heels, possibly of a different design than was used in either of the assaults described here.
This photo shows stiletto heels, possibly of a different design than was used in either of the assaults described here.

Early reports of a professor’s death via stiletto heel reek of mystery. This report by ABC News, from Houston, Texas, USA, on June 10, 2013, is typical:

A Houston woman was charged with murder after she allegedly stabbed a University of Houston professor to death with a stiletto heel at a luxury high-rise condominium. Ana Trujillo, 44, was arrested and charged this weekend when police found her boyfriend, Alf Stefan Andersson, with multiple stab wounds to the head lying on the floor of an apartment early Sunday morning, Houston police said in a news release. Andersson, 59, worked as a research professor at the University of Houston Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling since 2009….

The release makes no mention of whether police believe Trujillo was wearing or holding the shoe during the alleged attack.

A medical report nearly a decade ago from Liverpool, UK, also played up elements of mystery:

Logo of the Walton Centre, where the victim of the 2005 stiletto-to-the-head assault was treated.
Logo of the Walton Centre, where the victim of the 2005 stiletto-to-the-head assault received medical treatment.

An unusual case of a compound depressed skull fracture after an assault with a stiletto heel,” G Stables, G Quigley, S Basu, R Pillay, Emergency Medicine Journal, vol. 22, 2005, pp. 304–305. The authors, at Walton Centre for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Liverpool, wrote:

“A 23 year old man presented to the accident and emergency department of a university hospital after an alleged assault. He had sustained a blow to the left side of his head with the stiletto heel of a shoe…. Open depressed skull fractures can occur in a variety of settings. To our knowledge there has not been any previous report of a stiletto heel causing such an injury. This could in part reflect the relative strength of the particular heel involved in this case. We are informed that such heels are may be customised and reinforced when worn by members of the transsexual/transvestite community, of which the alleged assailant was a member…. A high index of suspicion should be maintained if a pointed object is implicated in assaults involving the skull.”

BONUS: The new study “Thinking while walking: experienced high-heel walkers flexibly adjust their gait” (HT Neil Martin)

Improbable Research