Sleeping with the Dead and – er – Other Things

Have you ever heard of the Swedish metal band Pain? Their fourth CD is Dancing with the Dead? Dreadful sound in my opinion, however, the concept leads nicely into this blog except this isn’t about dancing. It’s all about cuddling and, er, other gross stuff. Yes these people live among us.

You may have heard of the notorious Carl Tanzler. He was born in Germany in 1877 and moved to the U.S. in Key West Florida, leaving behind his wife, Dora Tanzler. The good doctor developed a morbid obsession for a young Cuban-American tuberculosis patient, Elena Milagro “Helen” de Hoyos, who died of the disease at the age of 22 of the disease. She was considered to be a local beauty. I guess there’s no accounting for tastes. Before she died Tanzler decided he had seen Helena in “visions;” probably our first clue that something was wrong with this man. Tanzler showered her with gifts of jewelry and clothing, and professed his undying (pun) love to her, but his affection wasn’t reciprocated.

Carl_Tanzler_(1940)The family was not without its problems. Helen had two sisters, and one, Florinda “Nana” Milagro Hoyos, also succumbed to tuberculosis. Her other sister’s husband was electrocuted in an unfortunate accident. Tanzler had no interest in her; probably just as well. The family had both daughters entombed.Helen’s father, Francisco “Pancho” Hoyos, left Helen’s mother, Maria Elena Milagro “Helen” de Hoyos, after she miscarried their child. Nice guy. Of course it was all her fault. He moved to Miami and was legally married to Maria at the time of his death although who he was sleeping with hasn’t been determined.

Despite Tanzler’s efforts, Helen died of tuberculosis on October 25, 1931. Tanzler paid for her funeral, and commissioned the construction of an above ground mausoleum in the Key West Cemetery, which he visited almost every night. Uh-oh. You just know that can’t be good. One evening in April, 1933, Tanzler crept through the cemetery and removed Helen’s body from the mausoleum, carting it through the cemetery after dark on a toy wagon. How respectful. He said that Helen’s spirit came to him when he sat by her grave and serenaded her corpse with a Spanish song. He said that she would often tell him to take her from the grave. Hey, he was only being a good boyfriend. Cut him some slack.

Here is where it gets even weirder (you knew that was coming). Tanzler attached the corpse’s bones together with wire and coat hangers, and fitted the face with glass eyes. As the skin demoposed, Tanzler replaced it with silk cloth soaked in wax. As the black hair fell out of the decomposing scalp, Tanzler fashioned a wig from her hair that had been collected by her mother and given to Tanzler. Perhaps Maria was a little odd herself. Tanzler filled the corpse’s abdominal and chest cavity with rags to keep the original form, dressed her remains in stockings, jewelry, and gloves, and kept the body in his bed. Ick. Imagine the smell. Tanzler used copious DB40BxhfPll9jxjd7GELqxlbo1_500amounts of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents, to mask the odor and forestall the effects of the corpse’s decomposition. He did something to her vagina so that he was able to, (hold your stomach), engage in necrophilic relations with Helen.

Good news never stays a secret for long. Helen’s sister Florinda heard rumors of Tanzler sleeping with the disinterred body of her sister, and confronted Tanzler at his home. Presumably Florinda was still alive at this point unless she was one of Tanzler’s visions. Florinda notified the authorities, and Tanzler was arrested. Tanzler was psychiatrically examined, and somehow found mentally competent to stand trial on the charge of “wantonly and maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorization.” Aw, give him a break. He loved the corpse. That’s not so bad is it?  Tanzler was held to answer on the charge, but the case was dropped as the statute of limitations for the crime had expired. Imagine a statute of limitations on having sex with a corpse? Necrophiles are always the lucky ones.

Helen’s body was examined by physicians and pathologists. It was put on public display at the Dean-Lopez Funeral Home, where it was viewed by 6,800 people. And they said Tanzler exploited Helen. After much money was made, the body was returned to the Key West Cemetery where the remains were buried in an unmarked grave to prevent further tampering, aka Tanzler from finding her again, I should think.

Tanzler couldn’t be held down for long. He too profited from his dearly departed loved one. In 1944, Tanzler moved to Pasco County, Florida where he wrote an autobiography that appeared in the Pulp publication, Fantastic Adventures in 1947. His home was near his wife Doris, who had arrived from Germany some years earlier and helped to financially support Tanzler in his later years. Tanzler received United States citizenship in 1950 in Tampa. Perhaps immigration hadn’t got wind of the Helen Moyos story. Separated from his obsession, Tanzler used a death mask to create a life-sized effigy of Helen, and lived with it until his death on July 3, 1952. His body was discovered on the floor of his home three weeks after his death. Dora must have heaved a sigh of relief. So must Helen Hoyos.

NORMA BATES  Okay that’s not her real name but it might as well be. A Belgian woman, 69, tucked in with her dead husband’s corpse for nearly a year, from 2011 – 2012. Marcel H. is the only name authorities would release to deadthe press. His mummified remains were found in the couple’s bed after the landlord investigated; they hadn’t paid their rent in quite some time. Imagine the look on his face when he saw the stiff looking none too happy in the marital bed. At least Norma didn’t kill her spouse the way Norman Bates killed his mother. Marcel died of an asthma attack quite innocently, the year before.

Philippe Boxho, a pathologist at the Forensic Centre of Liege explained that i takes about a week for a body to mummify in a warm, dry environment. Even though there would have been strong odours, neighbours may have mistaken them for garbage. Well, you could argue the point. First, maggots would have eaten a lot of the decomposing flesh. Other insects would have infested the body. And through it all, the woman remained loyally at her putrid husband’s side. “In this case the body had rotten in the bed and his internal organs had melted and liquefied. This liquid would have spread and the bed would have been swarming with insects as the body rotted, this would have been a real shame.” Shame is one word. Pathological is another.

This story tops the last. It’s funny in a gruesome way. Linda Chase, 72, a Jackson, Michigan woman, kept her dead boyfriend’s body in a chair so they could watch NASCAR together. Chase insisted she kept the corpse clean and dressed. “He was the only guy who was ever nice to me,” was her pitiful explanation nascarfor keeping the dead man in her home. She said, “It’s not that I’m heartless. I didn’t want to be alone.” She could have done what Tanzler did and simply made a wax effigy of him but not everyone is as artistic I suppose.

However (there’s always a however) there’s one little catch: Chase continued to collect her deceased boyfriend’s benefit checks. “I’m probably going to prison,” she admitted. But it won’t be for reasons to do with the corpse. She was actually arrested for fraud after it was discovered she’d been cashing the dead man’s checks. Silly woman. Chase has no relation to Dorothea Puente so far as I know.

deadThis story involves a woman who kept her 22-year-old son’s corpse for 18 years after he died in 1995.  Joni Bakaradze was tucked away in a casket in the basement of her home. His mother gave him constant love and care, changing his burial cloth once a year. That’s 18 burial cloths. That sort of thing adds up you know. However after the woman became ill and couldn’t care for her dead son any longer, he started to decompose. Ick. You have to wonder what is affecting the mind of a mother who is capable of keeping her dead child in her home for 18 years. I wouldn’t even begin to guess.

A  68-year-old retired vice principal, Chief Chimezie Osigwehvicel in Ejemekwuru, a town in Imo State was determined to follow in Norman Bates’ pathological steps; he kept his mother’s corpse for 10 years in a cupboard (Mother Hubbard)? On Monday, May 13, 2013 a 22-year-old boy ventured into his father’s secret room in search of his credentials, opened a large wardrobe, and got the shock of his life when he found the mummified body of his grandmother, who was believed to have gone missing since 2003. alleged to have murdered his 78-year-old mother, Mrs. Lucy Osigweh in circumstances depicting ritual purpose. He decided to embalm the body, and placed it in the cupboard in a room which also served as his shrine. He told people she travelled abroad. The neighbours knew Osigwehvice was a member of a secret cult and had been a member of the sect for the past 24 years. He claimed he had attained high spiritual level and that he could see God at will. Supposedly, this was why he did not want to get close to people. Lucky for them. A source in the village, who declined to be named, (no doubt with good reason), said Osigwehvice displayed some mental instability. You think?

8f9ee92e15c1e75e239f42a6d6c975caIn the inner room, which served as his temple, there was a table covered with a red piece of cloth, described as the golden table where anything about anyone’s life could be revealed. “Anyone who sits on that table, the secrets of life will be revealed to him,” he insisted to people. However not what was inside his son’s cupboard. Mr Ike Osigwe, a younger brother, wasn’t much healthier than Osigwehvice. He claimed he had lived in the family house since his return from Delta State in 2009 that he never knew that their mother’s corpse was hidden in the house. He asked police to torture his brother for the atrocity he committed against their mother. “I want him to suffer in the police custody because of what he has done to the family and to the memory of our father because no normal person would do what he did. He is mentally derailed to keep his mother’s corpse in a wardrobe for whatever purpose.” But Osigwe isn’t of course. He just wants his brother tortured.

2009 – A Vietnamese man, Le Van, was discovered to have been sleeping with his dead wife for 5 years.  Two years later, reporters from the Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper checked in on the man and discovered he was still sleeping next to his wife’s body and authorities couldn’t stop him. Vietnamese papers posted photos of Le Van sleeping with a human-shaped gypsum statue that contained the body of his dead wife. It’s quite nice. When she passed, he couldn’t cope with her loss so he dug up her remains, put them inside the statue and continued to share a bed with her. He said he sleeps with his dead wife to “train” to return to his previous incarnation, whatever that is.

In Buenos Aires, Claudio Alferi, 58, was discovered lying over a chair in his apartment beside a mummified woman wrapped in plastic bags and wearing slippers, at his kitchen table.  Police and firefighters finally responsed to complaints of a bad smell coming from the apartment after a month. Take your time, boys. Forensic experts and neighbors identified the woman as Mr. Alferi’s mother, Margarita Aimer de Alferi. Residents in Carapachay, told detectives they last saw Ms. Alferi a decade ago when she was 90, but her son continued to insist she was alive. Investigations revealed that mother and son died from natural causes, ten years apart. No not their ages, silly. Their deaths.

a98862_livin-w-dead_8In March 2012, Christopher Blackburn, 29, did not report the death of his father for five months and claimed his benefit payments. He was jailed for three years, after police found the body of Guy Blackburn, 54, on a bed in the living room of his home in Penwortham, Lancashire. Blackburn lived in the house with the body, but said nothing about his father, who died from natural causes. Blackburn’s 10-year-old daughter lived in the house and Blackburn told her that her grandfather was simply asleep in his room. Dead asleep. Haha.  Blackburn, of Birkby, Huddersfield, agreed in court that he prevented a lawful and decent burial of a dead body. He also plead guilty at a previous hearing to theft in pocketing £1,869 of income support payments (twice that in dollar amounts in the U.S.  Blackburn lied to police, telling them that he had spoken to his father in November 2010 and had a drink with him at Christmas. Must have been a stiff drink. Maybe a Bloody Mary.






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