manhole mishap cover

Asteroid Sleuth: The Case of the Manhole Mishap

On October 15, 2019 at 3:15 AM EDT, a crew of Verizon workers raised a heavy iron manhole cover in the Columbus Circle section of Manhattan, to be assaulted by a putrid smell. Investigation into the vault below found the badly decomposed body of a man, partially consumed by rats, who had clearly been dead for some time. The mystery of how the corpse got under the 300 pound manhole cover, which normally takes two people to lift it, was resolved by examination of surveillance footage of the area.


Recorded at 2:30 AM EDT on September 30th, the footage showed an apparently drunken man stumbling over barriers erected around the opened manhole, then falling into it. Two days after the body’s discovery, the man was identified as Cesar Gabriel Cortez, 41, homeless.


A chart set for the accident shows asteroid Lachesis at 7 Leo rising on the 14 Leo Ascendant, opposing asteroid Anubis at 12 Aquarius setting on the Descendant. Lachesis is named for the mythic Greek Fate who determines the span of life, while Anubis is named for the ancient Egyptian deity governing funerary rites, so the theme of death was empowered in that moment. Not only that, but Anubis was especially strong, coming to its direct station that very day, in trine to the Sun at 6 Libra. Conjoined the Sun was asteroid Caesar at 10 Libra, for victim Cesar Cortez, closely trined Anubis, sextile Lachesis and squared the forming Saturn/Pluto conjunction at 14 and 20 Capricorn (ancient and modern lords of death), which was joined by asteroid Manhattan, the city of his death, at 18 Cap, and in a T-Square with asteroid Atropos at 16 Aries, named for the Fate who severs the thread of life at death.


manhole cover

The open Manhattan manhole where Cesar Cortez met his end, partially consumed by rats before his body was discovered; asteroid Caesar squared asteroid Ratte, Manhattan, Saturn and Pluto when he died

Also squared Caesar was asteroid Ratte at 9 Capricorn, for the vermin which consumed him. In addition, Caesar is at the apex of a “deconstructed” Yod, or Finger of Destiny, with inconjuncts to Uranus, ruler of accidents, at 5 Taurus and Neptune, ruler of alcohol and intoxication, at 16 Pisces (not a formal Yod, Caesar is inconjunct both planets, but they are not within orb of sextile to each other). Lastly, Caesar is sesquiquadrate to Damocles at 23 Aquarius, representing the doom hanging unseen overhead (or in this case, underfoot).


All three of Mr. Cortez’ names have asteroid referents which interacted with death indicators that day. Asteroid Gabriella (for middle name Gabriel) appears at 15 Scorpio, conjoined Requiem at 19 Scorpio, named for the funeral mass for the dead. Gabriella is also sextile Saturn/Pluto and T-Squared Anubis and Lachesis. Asteroid Cortesi is closest to surname Cortez, and at 10 Sagittarius is conjoined asteroid Rip at 14 Sag (which functions as a death indicator in the acronym “RIP”, “Rest In Peace”, a common tombstone inscription), also conjunct Jupiter at 18 Sag, granting Cortez some form of “fame” at his death. All three names also interact with Neptune, for his drunkenness which precipitated the accident: Caesar inconjunct, Gabriella trined, and Cortesi in square.


manhole police

Police cluster about the site where Cesar Cortez’ body was found, two weeks after his death; surveillance footage pinpointed the date of his demise as September 30 at 2:30 AM, when Lachesis was rising and Anubis was setting, having turned direct that day, in trine to asteroid Caesar conjunct the Sun

When Cesar Cortez’ body was found on October 15th, asteroid Caesar had transited to 18 Libra, exactly squared Manhattan for his death, reiterating the connection; Mercury had moved to 15 Scorpio, exactly conjoined Gabriella at his death, putting him in the news; and Cortesi was now exactly conjunct the death day Rip, confirming his demise. When he was identified two days later, the transit Sun had moved to within two degrees of the death Mercury at 25 Libra, providing the name and illuminating his identity.


I am indebted for the inspiration for this article by an entry in Elisabeth Grace’s “Charts in the News” column in the February/March 2020 issue of “The Mountain Astrologer” magazine.


Alex Miller is a professional writer and astrologer, author of The Black Hole Book, detailing deep space points in astrological interpretation, and the forthcoming Heaven on Earth, a comprehensive study of asteroids, both mythic and personal. Alex is a frequent contributor to “The Mountain Astrologer”, “Daykeeper Journal”, and NCGR’s Journals and “Enews Commentary”; his work has also appeared in “Aspects” magazine, “Dell Horoscope”, “Planetwaves”, “Neptune Café” and “Sasstrology.” He is a past president of Philadelphia Astrological Society, and a former board member for the Philadelphia Chapter of NCGR.

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  1. […] Finally, fellow TMA scribe and asteroid astrology specialist Alex Miller was inspired to add to the analysis of Cesar Gabriel Cortez’s fatal fall (into a manhole) in a recent blog post.  […]

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