Researchers in Turkey are on the trail of a killer from space. After searching state archives, the researchers believe they have found the earliest confirmed case of a person being killed by a meteorite, Space.com reports. The researchers say the luckless man was killed and another man was paralyzed on Aug. 22, 1888, when a meteorite slammed into a hill in Sulaymaniyah in what is now Iraq. Reports of people being killed by meteorites go back thousands of years, but researchers say no other cases had a similar level of proof as that recorded by fastidious Ottoman Empire archivists. The researchers say they found three letters from local authorities describing the event and evidence that the reigning sultan, Abdul Hamid II, was informed.
"Almost every single event was recorded in the archives. I mean, if you sneeze, it was recorded somehow. Natural events, financial issues, governmental messaging, etc," says Ozan Unsalan, lead author of a study published in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science. The researchers say they are now trying to track down a sample of the meteorite. In what was once the only confirmed case of a person being hit by a meteorite, Alabama woman Anne Hodges was bruised by a 9-pound meteorite that crashed through her ceiling in 1954, Smithsonian Magazine reports. In 2009, a 14-year-old Germany schoolboy was hit on the hand by a meteorite. He doused it with water and took it to school with him. (Read more meteorites stories.)