Carl Tanzler, AKA Count Carl von Cosel, was a German-born radiologic technologist who emigrated to the United States in 1926. He settled in Florida, eventually taking a job at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Key West. It was during his time here that met a patient by the name of Maria Elena de Hoyos. A beautiful Cuban-American local, he believed that she was his true love that had been shown to him in childhood “visions”.
Helen, as she was known, was eventually diagnosed with tuberculosis. A typically fatal disease at the time, Tanzler did everything in his power to treat her. It also soon became clear that he was infatuated with her, showering her with presents, but his feelings went un reciprocated.
Helen succumbed to TB in October of 1931. And that is when things got truly creepy.
For the next two years Tanzler would sit by her grave and serenade her in Spanish. He believed that her spirit would return to him while he snag. She would often “tell” him to take her from her grave. He eventually complied with her wishes and removed her body from the mausoleum.
The body had badly decomposed at this point. He rebuilt her by attaching the bones together with wire, creating a new “skin” with cloth soaked in wax and plaster of paris, inserted glass eyeballs, and dressed her. The two of them lived together happily for 7 years, that is until 1940 when her sister confronted him about the sick rumors she had been hearing.
The body was discovered by police and Tanzler was arrested. Although deemed mentally competent (!?!) to stand trial, the case had to be dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired.
Two physicians (Dr. DePoo and Dr. Foraker) claimed that During the autopsy in 1940 a tube had been discovered in the vaginal area to allow for intercourse. <shudders> This claim came many years later and has not been confirmed by any official documents.
Carl Tanzler died on July 3, 1952. It was discovered that he had created a life-sized effigy of Helen Hoyos, using a death mask to re-create her face.