The Strange Case of Carl Tanzler
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Necrophilia can be described as a mental illness when a person finds sexual arousal towards dead bodies. The symptoms can vary from person to person. It’s also one of the more well known subjects of psychology due to its morbidity. Today, we will take a blast from the past and retell the foundations of necrophilia. And that story will be the strange case of Karl Tanzler, the man who longed for his patient’s decaying corpse.
Karl Tanzler was born on February 8, 1877 in Dresden, Germany. Besides being involved in World War I, not many strange accounts or behaviors were reported about Tanzler’s upbringing. There is, however, one particular moment in his early days that can be described as odd or fascinating.
At a specific moment in his childhood, Tanzler claimed to have been visited by visions of a dead ancestor. Her name was Countess Anna. Tanzler claimed that during the visit, his dead relative disclosed who would eventually be his one and true love. The woman of his dreams was to be described as dark haired and exotic. From here on, Tanzler has made it a point to remember every information provided for the next years to come.
This vision laid the foundation to what would be one of the most bizarre cases in psychology history.
Fast forward to his later years as an adult, Tanzler left Germany in 1926 after his involvement in World War I. Unexpectedly, Tanzler decided to leave his wife and children and began a new life in Key West. Once he arrived in Florida, Tanzler took the job title as a count and claimed to be a former submarine captain. He also presented himself as an inventor. The following year, he became a radiologist for the United States Marine Hospital.
Tanzler was usually a quiet man and he kept to himself often. However, this all changed when he met a patient by the name of Elena de Hoyos. By the moment Tanzler met Elena, he broke out of his shell. As mentioned earlier, Tanzler had always dreamed of a beautiful lady who had dark hair. Along with a Carribean background, Hoyos perfectly fit the exotic description in the eyes of Tanzler. Therefore, it was a dream come true for him. He was immediately infatuated with the young lady. Her frequent visits to the radiologist enabled Tanzler to lavish Hoyos with gifts and attention as she grew more ill with each passing time.
According to History Daily:
When Elena De Hoyos visited Tanzler’s office for medical aid, it was revealed that she was diagnosed with tuberculosis. Since this was the late 1920s, the medical field had little to no knowledge of how to cure such a disease at the time. Therefore, death was definitely an impending sentence for Hoyos. This didn’t stop Tanzler from pursuing Hoyos’ love though. Despite all of the hospital protocols, Tanzler used outside methods in an attempt to cure Hoyos from her illness. These methods included the usage of natural remedies, elixirs, and even x-ray equipment that he borrowed from the office and brought to Hoyos’ home.
While all of these procedures occurred, Tanzler still made efforts to display his love and affection for Elena de Hoyos. Through her dying breath, he expressed his undying love endlessly. Tanzler’s love was obvious, but historians could not determine if Hoyos reciprocated his romantic feelings. There was not any document to dispute or proves her views towards Tanzler.
During this time, keep in mind that Carl Tanzler was a lot older than Hoyos. She was only 22 at the time of her illness, and Tanzler was already at least 45.
Despite all of the efforts to cure Hoyos from tuberculosis, she had no chance in surviving an uphill battle. Hoyos passed away due to complications from the disease on October 25, 1931. To pay respect from the death of his supposed true love, Tanzler decided to pay for the funeral expenses with his own money. Tanzler also paid for her confinement to be placed in a stone mausoleum. If this wasn’t strange enough to the Hoyos family, only Tanzler had access to the building. He obtained the one and only key to the mausoleum. Therefore, Tanzler took advantage of the situation and visited her grave site nearly every evening for the next two years.
After two years have elapsed since Hoyo’s death, Tanzler broke his regular habit and fell into darkness. First off, Tanzler lost his job as a radiologist. He then ended his nightly visits to Hoyo’s mausoleum as well. It was so odd and abrupt that even the Hoyos family took notice of the situation. The family was well aware of Tanzler’s love and devotion for Elena de Hoyos. However, it was not enough for them to begin investigating Tanzler’s daily routine. This choice would be a grave mistake for the Hoyos family with what’s to come next in this story.
Tanzler managed to find a way to spend more time with Elena de Hoyos. On one particular night, Tanzler made the decision to load up Elena’s decaying corpse and carried her body out of the graveyard with a toy wagon. He then took her decaying corpse to a makeshift lab and mummified Elena de Hoyos with wires, wax, plaster, and glass eyes. After hours of work perfecting the mummy, Tanzler finally felt that she was ready to move to his home. The nightmare continues.
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Sources from the scary case can be found through the links below: