Carl Tanzler's Obsession With Elena de Hoyos Went Way Too Far Beyond Death


Carl Tanzler was a mystery

True love---or at least, true obsession---conquers all. In this case, it even conquered death. In 1933, Carl Tanzler was so head over heels for 21-year-old Elena de Hoyos that after she passed away, he stole her body and took it home, where he lived with the young woman's mummified corpse for the next several years. Tanzler would have continued his sick ruse until the end of his life, but he was caught in dramatic fashion by Hoyos's sister, leading to one of the strangest cases of grave-robbing and necrophilia of the 20th century.

Source: (florida keys public library)

The German-born radiologist came to Key West, Florida after leaving his wife and children in 1926. Once in Florida, he presented himself as a count and claimed to be a former submarine captain who moonlighted as an inventor. The next year, he took a job as a radiologist at the United States Marine Hospital.

Tanzler kept to himself, but when he met a patient named Elena de Hoyos, he came out of his shell. Supposedly, Tanzler had been dreaming of a woman with dark hair, and Hoyos fit the bill. He was immediately enamored with the young woman, and he continued to lavish attention on her as she grew more and more ill.