Man cut off tongue, burned in 'Fight Club' stunt, police say
February 16, 2005 FIGHTCLUB0217
FERGUS FALLS, Minn. -- A rural Underwood man found injured last fall probably hurt himself, cutting off part of his tongue and setting himself on fire in an homage to the violent film ``Fight Club,'' Otter Tail County authorities said.
David Strom, 33, was hospitalized Oct. 19 after paramedics found him in a farmhouse that he shared with his grandmother near Underwood. He was handcuffed and suffering from severe burns from head to toe, and the tip of his tongue had been cut off, authorities said.
Sheriff Brian Schlueter said Monday that investigators determined the injuries were likely self-inflicted after interviewing Strom on Friday. Strom had been in a medically induced coma until December and hadn't spoken to investigators.
Strom's mother, Mary Olson of St. Paul, said her son is recovering in a Twin Cities hospital and suffers from a bipolar condition. Just a week ago, she said she believed his initial story of being attacked.
According to authorities, Strom initially told his mother three masked intruders attacked him in a pole barn near the farmhouse and mutilated his tongue before setting him on fire. After extinguishing the flames, he was able to walk 200 yards to the farmhouse, where he dialed 911, he told his mother.
In the meeting with investigators, Strom said he has an alter ego named ``Tyler,'' the name of the protagonist in the 1999 film ``Fight Club,'' Schlueter said. Strom ``had more than an average interest in'' the film, the sheriff said.
In the film, disillusioned young men meet in an underground club for fights.
Strom told investigators he was alone at the farm and ``it was Tyler who did this to him.''
Evidence collected at the scene indicated no one but Strom was in the pole barn the evening he was injured, Schlueter said. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension also recently determined latex gloves, a hat and a pop can found in the pole barn belonged to Strom.
In addition, the handcuffs involved and the knife used to cut off part of Strom's tongue belonged to Strom.