Good Reasons to Kill

Good Reason to Kill #70: May Have Stolen Your Socks

Almost certainly not what was missing from the suspect's trailer

A 47-year-old Florida man was arrested last week after he “attacked two people with a ninja sword after discovering his socks were missing,” according to Fox 13 News. As is often the case in these circumstances (that is, circumstances involving Florida, ninjas, or socks, or any combination thereof), the report seems to raise more questions than it answers:

Two questions definitely not answered by this report are (1) why is Gerard Depardieu living in a trailer in Hudson, Florida, under an assumed name; and (2) what kind of sword was he actually using? I found no information on the first, but enough to trouble you with on the second.

The video does not show the sword in question, nor do any of the other reports I was able to find on this incident. Nor do the witnesses/victims (who are expected to fully recover) describe it in any detail. The female victim, who was cut on the leg, described it only as a “friggin’ big-ass sword,” but eyewitness testimony is notorious for exaggerating the size of the friggin’ sword a suspect was wielding, especially if it was being used to threaten the witness, and she provided no other details about the implement.

The report’s use of the term “ninja sword” of course suggests it was a Japanese-style sword, but doesn’t tell us much more than that. There appear to have been approximately 37,000 different kinds of swords manufactured in Japan over the centuries, the best-known of which are the katana and wakizashi, but also including the tsurugi (“sword”), tachi (“big sword”), kodachi (“small big sword”), and ōdachi (“big big sword”), although it seems likely it’s these translations I found on Wikipedia that are ridiculous and not the names themselves. In any event, the Japanese have plainly long been masters of the art of making things to stab people with.

There appears to be no good evidence, though, that they ever made something specifically for ninjas to stab people with. Again according to Wikipedia, though I would dearly love to research this in more detail, modern enthusiasts and popular culture have a tendency to wave around something called a ninjatō or ninjaken or even shinobigatana, which tend to be shorter and straighter than (for example) the katana. So this is a thing, sort of, but there is apparently “no physical evidence,” such as surviving contemporary examples, that can be dated earlier than the 20th century. (In fact, some experts believe the whole concept of “ninja” is an “invented tradition,” not a total fabrication but vastly exaggerated.)

The upshot being that this could have been a “ninja sword” in the sense of this modern(ish) creation, but because it seems unlikely that these witnesses would have made any of these distinctions, all we can conclude is that this jackass had some kind of Japanese-style sharp implement. (If you think I’m giving the female witness too little credit, feel free to believe it was an ōdachi based on her testimony that it was one “friggin’ big-ass sword.” That seems to fit.) And that he was mad about socks.

The suspect was charged with attempted murder and aggravated domestic battery with a deadly weapon. As of last Wednesday, he was being held in Pasco County Jail in lieu of $150,000 bail. Of course, if he’s actually a ninja, no jail can hold him. But my guess is that he’s probably still there.