Here's another one of my favorite October Spookfest posts from 2010. This is one of those weird tales that seems too strange to be true. I want to warn you that this story may be a bit disturbing. Its not a ghost story really, but just a really strange love story that took place in Key West in the early 30s. I use the term 'love' loosely. The more proper term would be 'obsession' or more technically 'necrophilia'. If that doesnt gross you out already than please read more.
Count Carl Von Cosel was a bit of a fraud to begin with. He wasnt a count and his real name was Karl Tanzler. He emigrated from Germany in the 20s and began working at a tuberculosis hospital in Key West. In 1931 a beautiful young woman came to him for treatment. Her name was Elena Hoyos and she was only 22.
In his grief, Von Cosel convinced Elenas family to let him build her a mausoleum. They trusted him and could not afford it otherwise. Though they knew of his fondness for Elena, they were not aware of just how obsessed he really was. They were also unaware that he had preserved Elenas body in formaldehyde and made a special key to her tomb so that he could visit her every night.
Elena's sister, having heard about Von Cosel's strange behavior, went to his house and confronted him. Rather than deny it, Von Cosel invited her in and took her upstairs to Elena. What she saw though, was not Elena, but rather a wax dummy that looked just like her. She was lying a bed big enough for two people. Von Cosel stated that Elena was happy and that they were in love and invited the sister to return and visit whenever she liked. Needless to say the sister was horrified and called the police.
The police arrived and took the Elena doll to be examined. What they discovered would shock and horrify people for decades. The 'doll' was actually the decayed body of Elena. Von Cosel had gone to extreme methods to 'preserve' the beauty. He had wired her bones together, inserted fake eyes, and covered her skin in wax and perfume. But that wasn't all...
It gets way worse. Not only had Von Cosel reconstructed the exterior of Elena, but her interior as well. He had attempted to preserve Elena's, ahem, sex organs. He had also inserted a tube that had allowed him to have intercourse with her for 8 years!!!
Grossed out yet?
Von Cosel did go to trial for these attrocities, however the public, especially women, supported him. They saw the whole thing as romantic. Von Cosel simply loved Elena so much that he couldnt let her go even in death. He spent only a short time in prison and it was decided that Elena would be buried in a secret location so as to avoid any further romanticisms. Before they buried her though, they decided to have a public viewing. Because that was the only logical thing to do, of course.
You gotta love all the smiling children!
Apparently the public was not informed of the necrophilia until after Elena was buried. If they had been maybe their sympathies would have gone to Elena and her family instead of the "romantic" Von Cosel. Instead, he was declared sane and sent on his way to live out the rest of his days in Tampa, FL. With a life sized dummy of Elena compete with death mask of course. She was by his side when he died in 1952.
Elena # 2