Fact Check

Did a 'Gun-Toting Granny' Shoot Two Rapists' Testicles Off?

Reports that an Australian grandmother blew the testicles off the two men who raped her granddaughter are fake news.

Published March 8, 2000

A gun-toting Australian granny blew the testicles off the two men who raped her granddaughter.

MELBOURNE, Australia

Gun-toting granny Ava Estelle, 81, was so ticked-off when two thugs raped her 18-year-old granddaughter that she tracked the unsuspecting ex-cons down — and shot their testicles off!

"The old lady spent a week hunting those bums down — and when she found them, she took revenge on them in her own special way," said admiring Melbourne police investigator Evan Delp.

"Then she took a taxi to the nearest police station, laid the gun on the sergeant's desk and told him as calm as could be: 'Those bastards will never rape anybody again, by God.'"

Cops say convicted rapist and robber Davis Furth, 33, lost both his penis and his testicles when outraged Ava opened fire with a 9-mm pistol in the seedy hotel room where he and former prison cellmate Stanley Thomas, 29, were holed up.

The wrinkled avenger also blew Thomas' testicles to kingdom come, but doctors managed to save his mangled penis, police said.

"The one guy, Thomas, didn't lose his manhood, but the doctor I talked to said he won't be using it the way he used to," Detective Delp told reporters. "Both men are still in pretty bad shape, but I think they're just happy to be alive after what they've been through."

The Rambo Granny swung into action August 21 after her granddaughter Debbie was carjacked and raped by two knife-wielding creeps in a section of town bordering on skid row.

"When I saw the look on my Debbie's face that night in the hospital, I decided I was going to go out and get those bastards myself 'cause I figured the police would go easy on them," recalled the retired library worker. "And I wasn't scared of them, either — because I've got me a gun and I've been shootin' it all my life."

So, using a police artist's sketch of the suspects and Debbie's description of the sickos' car, tough-as-nails Ava spent seven days prowling the wino-infested neighborhood where the crime took place till she spotted the ill-fated rapists entering their flophouse hotel.

"I knew it was them the minute I saw 'em, but I shot a picture of 'em anyway and took it back to Debbie and she said sure as hell, it was them," the ornery oldster recalled.

"So I went back to that hotel and found their room and knocked on the door — and the minute the big one, Furth, opened the door, I shot 'em, got right square between the legs, right where it would really hurt 'em most, you know. Then I went down to the police station and turned myself in."

Now, baffled lawmen are tying to figure out how to deal with the vigilante granny. "What she did was wrong, but you can't really throw an 81-year-old woman in prison." Det. Delp said, "especially when all 3 million people in the city want to nominate her for sainthood."

The supposed news story reproduced above about a "Rambo Granny" taking the law into her own hands is a fanciful tale of imagined revenge and nothing more. It originated as a 20 October 1998 article published in the Weekly World News, an entertainment tabloid (now a web site) whose stock in trade is the fantastically fictional.

Grambo exists only in our hearts and inboxes. Although some may cherish her story anyway, it's an unlikely tale of vigilante justice in which a police spokesman is characterized as "admiring" of someone who stalked and shot two people.

As righteous as the fictional Grambo's cause might have been, the moment a crime victim or one of her sympathizers takes matters into her own hands, that person becomes a criminal engaged in illegal activity. Police would not be "baffled" about what to do with such a person: they'd arrest her and let the legal system sort out what charges to lay against her and how to punish her.

Okay, so we can't believe the story. Many of us still want to, though.

Fake or real, Grambo is perceived as a hero. In a world populated by bad guys seemingly always getting away with one horrible act after another, we need to believe that at least someone somewhere stood up to the wrongs, took matters into her own hands, and dealt out some much-needed justice, even if it was of the street variety. Popular culture is filled with instances of the wronged being denied protection by the authorities and having to right the world on their own because that theme plays into both what we hold as true deep in our hearts (criminals escape justice through legal loopholes) and what we wish for (justice being meted out to these miscreants anyway).

It's no accident that this work of fiction features two adult male rapists (which one immediately pictures as strong, overpowering creeps), a teenage girl victim, and a frail little old lady of 81 years (a retired library worker, at that). The contrast makes for a more thrilling tale, and the cheers over David's toppling Goliath become louder and more enthusiastic.


Berger, Joe.   "Gun-Toting Granny Shoots 2 Rapists' Testicles Off."     Weekly World News.   20 October 1998   (p. 35).

Sydney Morning Herald.   "Column 8."     11 March 2000   (News and Features, p. 1).