The city of Kolkata in India has been taken by a storm recently. The reason? The news that a 44 year old man named Partha De has spent six months living in a posh apartment in the heart of the city with the skeleton of his dead sister. He took particular care in cleaning the room in which lay his sister’s skeleton, and offered food to it. He also preserved the skeletons of the family’s pet dogs. He told the police in crisp English that his sister came back every night for food. While the city stays glued to the case being solved, let’s take a look at some of the other people who lived with the dead.
10 People Who Lived With The Dead
10. The woman who took care of her dead son for 18 years
When Joni Bakaradze of Bashi village, Georgia, died almost two decades ago, he was 22 years old, and has a son of just 2 years. Instead of burying him, his family decided to preserve his body so that his little son would know his father. Joni’s mother took care of the corpse, smearing embalming fluid and then a vodka-based poultice formula. She even changed his clothes on his birthdays, until she grew too old to take care of Joni. The family keeps the body in a wooden coffin fitted with a viewing window in the lid.
9. The man who dug up his wife
57-year old Le Van from Vietnam in 2009 was found to be sleeping with the well-dressed human-shaped gypsum statue containing the body of his dead wife. When she died in 2003, he started sleeping on her grave. He dug himself a tunnel down to the casket to save himself from harsh weather conditions until in November, 2004, he dug her up, took her home, and molded her skin with clay and plaster. When checked again 2011, he was still found sleeping with the corpse. Even his children were alright with this.
8. Woman who watched NASCAR with dead boyfriend
Charles Zigler was fond of watching NASCAR, and would 72-year old girlfriend Linda Chase. When he died in 2010, Linda was not ready to let go of her NASCAR buddy. So, she mummified his corpse and placed it on a chair in the living room. While the cars went in circles at top speed on the television screen, Charles glassy eyes lingered on the screen. One of the sliest people who lived with the dead, Linda kept cashing in on his social security checks, until she was discovered by the police in 2012.
7. Woman who waited for her husband’s resurrection
When 61-year old Lucio Chacue was on his deathbed, he made his last wish and asked his wife to hide his body in their Columbian country-side house. He said he “would be coming back to life.” His wife wrapped his body in a sheet and kept him in her bedroom. As the body kept decomposing, there was an unbearable stench, but that did not deter her. She kept waiting for the resurrection, but when it did not happen for 30 days, she finally asked for the permission to bury the embalmed body in her patio.
6. 90-year old living with dead siblings
The story of Margaret, Anita, Frank and Elaine Bernstoff is one of the most extreme cases of people who lived with the dead. When Elaine died, her siblings kept her body in their private and messy house in Evanston, IL. In 2003, Frank died at 83, and his corpse met the same fate, and so did Anita’s in 2008. Margaret was left alone, and she continued to be sweet with the neighbours. Like many senior American citizens, they probably carried the idea of independence too far to avoid being placed in a nursing home.
5. Old lady living with husband and sister, both dead
Pennsylvania’s Jean Stevens became dependent on her twin June for company when her husband James passed away in 2000. But, when June, died in 2009, the lonely 91-year old Jean managed to exhume the graves of both, and brought the dead bodies home to talk to them. She sat James in the garage, and propped June in a room. When later asked, she said, “I think when you put them in the (ground), that’s goodbye, goodbye. In this way, I could touch [them] and look at [them] and talk to [them].”
4. Man who lived with dead mother, and died
In 2014, Claudio Alferi, 58, was found dead over a chair in his apartment in Buenos Aires, and beside him was the dried out body of a woman. She was wearing her slippers and was wrapped in plastic bags, and sitting in his kitchen. She was later identified by neighbours and forensic experts as Claudio’s mother, Margarita Aimer de Alferi. Neighbours said that they had last seen her a decade before, when she was 90. But, after she disappeared, Claudio had maintained that she was alive and healthy, till the discovery.
3. Man who hid the body parts of his murdered girlfriend in his bedroom floor
Erik Grumpelt punched her 39-year old girlfriend Melinda Raya several times when he found out that she was cheating on him. Thus, he murdered her to punish her. Then, he found a unique way to get rid of the body – or not quite so. He put her body on the bedroom floor and covered it with sheets. Then, he spread taxi cab air fresheners to fight the stench from decomposition. However, he was unsuccessful in hiding the body, as the police soon found it in July 2011, two months after Erik committed the crime.
2. Necrophilia teenager who cuddles with his mother
In 1980, a woman was found dead in her home in Paris. Her teenage son slept contentedly by her side. Further investigation revealed one of the most disturbing cases of people who lived with the dead. The body had been disemboweled, and her son, who had performed it with his bare hands, had placed the innards on her shoulder before going to sleep casually. The young man also raped her emptied out dead body. Autopsy reports confirmed later that all these acts were performed on her after she had died.
1. Scientist who was fixated with the other woman in his life
In 1930, radiologist Carl Tanzler, aka Georg Karl Tänzler and Count Carl Von Cosel, was married with two children when he fell for a tuberculosis patient Elena de Hoyos whom he was convinced to have been dreaming about. Despite his efforts, she died in 1931. He built her a crypt and sat by her coffin, until he decided to exhume her body. He tied her body parts with piano wire, gave her glass eyes and a wig made of her own hair, and covered her in wax. He played music to her and slept by her. Though arrested after 7 years, he was declared sane. A tube was found in Elena’s vagina, with semen inside it.
There are plenty of other sordid and gruesome examples of people who lived with the dead. Several reasons have been found to lead people to do such bizarre things. For some, it’s about money and benefits, while for others, it’s about practices like necrophilia. Many people living with the dead have been found to be so deeply attached to the dead that they couldn’t let go. While many live in denial, some want to take some time to accept the truth. Upon clinical investigations, many of these people living with skeletons and corpses have been found to have psychological disorders. Some are sad and lonely. Some are just panic-stricken murderers. These are no Stephen King characters. They are real people who pop up in the news every now and then, and shock us. They behave like everything is normal. Yet, they have a skeleton in the closet – quite literally!