(From WIKIPEDIA) Carl Tanzler or sometimes Count Carl von Cosel (February 8, 1877 – July 23, 1952) was a German-born radiologist at the United States Marine Hospital in Key West, Florida who developed a morbid obsession for a young Cuban-American tuberculosis patient, Elena Milagro "Helen" de Hoyos (July 31, 1909 - October 25, 1931), that carried on well after Hoyos succumbed to the disease.[In 1933, almost two years after her death, Tanzler removed Hoyos' body from its tomb, and lived with the corpse at his home for seven years until its discovery by Hoyos' relatives and authorities in 1940.Tanzler went by many names; he was listed as Georg Karl Tänzler on his German marriage certificate. He was listed as Carl Tanzler von Cosel on his United States citizenship papers, and he was listed as Carl Tanzler on his Florida death certificate. Some of his hospital records were signed Count Carl Tanzler von Cosel.
He was born as Karl Tänzler or Georg Karl Tänzler on February 8, 1877 in Dresden, Germany. Around 1920 he married Doris A. (1889–1977) and he was listed as "Georg Karl Tänzler" on the marriage certificate. Together they had two children: Ayesha Tanzler (1922–1998), and Crystal Tanzler (1924–1934), who died of diphtheria.
Tanzler grew up in Germany, and apparently spent time in Australia around the time of World War I, where he may have been held on detention. Tanzler emigrated to the United States in 1926, sailing from Rotterdam on February 6, 1926 to Havana, Cuba. From Cuba he settled in Zephyrhills, Florida, where his sister had earlier emigrated, and was later joined by his wife and two daughters. Leaving his family behind in Zephyrhills in 1927, he took a job as a radiologist at the U.S. Marine Hospital in Key West, Florida under the name Carl von Cosel. During his childhood in Germany, and later, while traveling briefly in Genoa, Italy, Tanzler claimed to have been visited by visions of a dead ancestor, Countess Anna Constantia von Cosel, who revealed the face of his true love, an exotic dark-haired woman, to him.
On April 22, 1930, while working at the Marine Hospital in Key West, Tanzler met Maria Elena Milagro "Helen" de Hoyos (1909–1931), a local Cuban-American woman who had been brought to the hospital for an examination by her mother. Tanzler immediately recognized her as the beautiful dark-haired woman that had been revealed to him in his earlier "visions." By all accounts, Hoyos was viewed as a local beauty in Key West. Elena was the daughter of local cigar maker Francisco "Pancho" Hoyos (1883–1934) and Aurora Milagro (1881–1940). She had two sisters, Florinda "Nana" Milagro Hoyos (1906–1944), who married Mario Medina (c.1905–1944) and also succumbed to tuberculosis; and Celia Milagro Hoyos (1913–?). Medina, Nana's husband, was electrocuted trying to rescue a coworker who hit a powerline with his crane at a construction site.
On February 18, 1926, Hoyos married Luis Mesa (1908–?), the son of Caridad and Isaac Mesa. Luis left Hoyos shortly after Hoyos miscarried the couples' child, and moved to Miami. Hoyos was legally married to Mesa at the time of her death. Hoyos was eventually diagnosed with tuberculosis, a typically fatal disease at the time, that eventually claimed the lives of almost her entire immediate family. Tanzler, with his self-professed medical "knowledge," attempted to treat and cure Hoyos with a variety of medicines, as well as x-ray and electrical equipment, that were brought to the Hoyos' home.
Tanzler showered Hoyos with gifts of jewelry and clothing, and allegedly professed his love to her, but no evidence has surfaced to show that any of his affection was reciprocated by Hoyos.
Despite Tanzler's best efforts, Hoyos died of terminal tuberculosis at her parent's home in Key West on October 25, 1931.Following Hoyos' funeral, which Tanzler paid for, and with the permission of her family, Tanzler commissioned the construction of an above ground mausoleum in the Key West Cemetery that he visited almost every night.
In April, 1933, Tanzler removed Hoyos' body from the mausoleum, carted it through the cemetery after dark on a toy wagon, and transported it to his home. Tanzler attached the corpse's bones together with wire and coat hangers, and fitted the face with glass eyes. As the skin of the corpse decomposed, Tanzler replaced it with silk cloth soaked in wax and plaster of paris. As the hair fell out of the decomposing scalp, Tanzler fashioned a wig from Hoyos' hair that had been collected by her mother and given to Tanzler not long after her burial in 1931. Tanzler filled the corpse's abdominal and chest cavity with rags to keep the original form, dressed Hoyos' remains in stockings, jewelry, and gloves, and kept the body in his bed. Tanzler also used copious amounts of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents, to mask the odor and forestall the effects of the corpse's decomposition.
In October, 1940, Elena's sister Florinda heard rumors of Tanzler sleeping with the disinterred body of her sister, and confronted Tanzler at his home, where Hoyos' body was eventually discovered. Florinda notified the authorities, and Tanzler was arrested and detained. Tanzler was psychiatrically examined, and found mentally competent to stand trial on the charge of "wantonly and maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorization."
After a preliminary hearing on October 9, 1940 at the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West, Tanzler was held to answer on the charge, but the case was eventually dropped and he was released, as the statute of limitations for the crime had expired.
Shortly after the corpse's discovery by authorities, Hoyos' body was examined by physicians and pathologists, and put on public display at the Dean-Lopez Funeral Home, where it was viewed by as many as 6,800 people. Hoyos' body was eventually returned to the Key West Cemetery where the remains were buried in an unmarked grave, in a secret location, to prevent further tampering.The facts underlying the case and the preliminary hearing drew much interest from the media at the time (most notably, from the Key West Citizen and Miami Herald), and created a sensation among the public, both regionally and nationwide. The public mood was generally sympathetic to Tanzler, whom many viewed as an eccentric "romantic". Though not reported contemporaneously, research (most notably by authors Harrison and Swicegood) has revealed evidence of Tanzler's necrophilia with Hoyos' corpse.
Two physicians (Dr. DePoo and Dr. Foraker) who attended the 1940 autopsy of Hoyos' remains recalled in 1972 that a paper tube had been inserted in the vaginal area of the corpse that allowed for intercourse.Others contend that since no evidence of necrophilia was presented at the 1940 preliminary hearing, and because the physicians' "proof" surfaced in 1972, over 30 years after the case had been dismissed, the necrophilia allegation is questionable. While no existing contemporary photographs of the autopsy or photographs taken at the public display show a tube, the necrophilia claim was repeated by the HBO Autopsy program in 2005.
In 1927, the 50 year old Karl Tanzler arrived in Key West, Florida. Originally from Dresden, Germany, and having recently abandoned his wife and two daughters, he now called himself 'Count Carl Von Cosel' and claimed to have nine university degrees. He found employment as an x-ray technician and bacteriologist at Marine Hospital; in his spare time he built an airship, tinkered with curious electrical devices and played music on his home-made organ. Then, at the hospital in April 1930, he met the woman of his dreams. Her name was Elena Milagro Hoyos, a beautiful twenty year old Spanish Cuban. She was dying from tuberculosis From this moment on Von Cosel was obsessed.
Convinced he had dreamed about her for decades and that she was destined to be his bride, he lavished her with gifts (which she accepted), proposals of marriage (which she rejected) and set about trying to cure her with electric shock machines and potions of his own devising, which included specks of gold amongst their ingredients. Elena died in October 1931, aged just 22. The heartbroken Von Cosel paid for a lavish funeral for his beloved, and she was buried. However, unable to stand the thought of his darling Elena rotting underground, Von Cosel designed and built for her an ornate mausoleum.
Her body was disinterred, placed in a new metal coffin and housed in the crypt. Night after night, Von Cosel sat next to her coffin and began, he believed, to communicate with Elena. She begged him to release her from her 'prison' so they could be together. Unable to resist, one dark night in April 1933, Von Cosel stole Elena from the crypt and took her to his airship (which he had christened 'Countess Elaine' - one day, he planned to fly with Elena to the stars). Here, he began the job of resurrection. For the next seven years, he held her body together with piano wire, put glass eyes where her real ones used to be, made a wig of her own hair and, piece by piece, strenthened her skin with wax and silk. He treated her with lotions and potions and electrotherapy.
Amongst his ressurection tools was a million volt tesla coil. He serenaded her with his home-made organ and slept beside her. By 1940 the rumours could no longer be ignored. Elena's sister confronted Von Cosel and found the body. The Count was arrested and imprisoned to await trial for 'malicious and wanton disfigurement of a grave'. Public interest in the case was huge. The local funeral home spotted an opportunity and put Elena's corpse on display. Over 6000 peaple came to view her body in three days.
Incredibly, the public were largely sympathetic. Many people thought that what the Count had done was marvelously romantic. He had many visitors to his cell offering gifts and support. At one time, a gang of giggling Cuban prostitutes turned up, offering their services to him for free. Two local friends posted the $1000 bail and he was released. In court, the grand jury found no law under which Von Cosel could be tried which was not limited by the statute of limitations (two years was the statutory limitation for molesting a grave, and Elena had been with the Count for seven years). Having been declared 'sane' he was released without charge. After declaring him 'sane', the same doctors performed the autopsy on Elena.
What they discovered remained secret till 1972, when Dr. DePoo made his confession. "I made the examination in the funeral home. The breasts really felt real. In the vaginal area, I found a tube wide enough to permit sexual intercourse. At the bottom of the tube was cotton, and in an examination of the cotton, I found there was sperm. Then I knew we were dealing with a sexual pervert." Elena's body was buried in a secret, unmarked grave. Facing financial difficulties, the Count left Key West to live with his sister in Zephyrhills, where he spent his days writing his memoirs and telling his story to tourists, selling them mementoes and showing them a wax replica of Elena he had made using her deathmask. In July 1952 Von Cosel was found dead, slumped over the effigy of his beloved Elena.