July 20, 2013

The Curious Case of Count Carl von Cosel

Elena Hoyos
Elena Hoyos was young, and beautiful by all accounts. She was 21 years old but her life was not ahead of her. She had the highly contagious disease tuberculosis, and in the year of 1930, it was almost always fatal. Her Father, Francisco worked at a local cigar factory in Key West, Florida. He had contracted the disease there, do to the close proximity and large number of workers in the cigar factories at the time, and unwillingly gave it to his daughter.

Count Carl Von Cosel, or Dr. Von Cosel, worked at the local hospital in the tuberculosis ward, wh ere he meet Elena, who was hoping to out live the disease. It is said that Carl fell in love at first site with the beautiful Elena, and made a promise right then and there to cure her of the disease. He would come to Elena's home with medicines and X Ray equipment trying to do the near impossible at the time, save a life from tuberculosis.

Carl Von Cosel
Cosel was in love, and he didn't want to loose his beloved Elena. He gave her gifts of jewelry, flowers, and clothing. He professed his love to her, every time he saw her. However, Elena did not feel the same. She just wanted, what seemed, this experienced doctor to some how cure her.

However, despite Cosel's promise, Elena succumbed to the disease on October 25, 1931. Cosel was devastated. Not only did he pay for Elena's funeral, he paid to have an above ground mausoleum built to house her body. He also, with out the family's knowledge, put Elena in an air tight casket, and had formaldehyde gas continuously pumped into the coffin to preserve her body.

Elena's Mausoleum
He visited her mausoleum every night. He claimed the spirit of Elena would come to him singing a Spanish song, begging him to bring her home. So in April of 1933 Cosel entered the cemetery under the cover of darkness and removed Elena's body from the mausoleum and carried it to his home in a child's red wagon. Once there he made a shrine for her complete with candles, and draping. He replaced her decaying skin with waxed silk. He tied her bones together with wire from coat hangers. He replaced her eyes, with glass ones. He made a wig out of Elena's own hair. He made a face mask out of plaster to place over the corpse's decaying face. He would treat the body with formaldehyde, perfume, and various chemical preservatives to help stop the decay. He inserted a tube in the vagina so he could have sexual intercourse with the corpse.

Elena's corpse with the plaster mask
Elena's sister, had heard rumors that Cosel had stolen Elena's body from the cemetery. With the police she went to the mausoleum and found her sister's body was indeed gone. Florinda then confronted Cosel. There Florinda found her sister's body in the  upstairs bed room looking more like a dummy than a human being.

Carl Von Cosel was arrested and was put on trial for the charge of "wantonly and maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorization" On October 9, 1940 he testified declaring his love for Elena, and his reasoning for what he did. He was declared sane enough for trial. However, the case was eventual dropped due to the statute of limitations.

Elena's body was examined by pathologists and put on public display at Dean-Lopez Funeral Home, where over 6,800 people filled past to see Carl's obsession. Her body was later returned to Key West Cemetery and buried in a secret location so she would not be disturbed again, by Cosel or anyone for that matter. 

Elena's body on display
It was later discovered that Dr Count Carl Von Cosel, was not a count or even a real doctor. His name wasn't even Von Cosel. It was one of the many alias he had adopted during the years. His real name was Georg Karl Tänzler.

Cosel died on July 3, 1952. His body was discovered on the floor of his home in Pasco County Florida, he moved there after the trial, three weeks after his death. Also discovered was an life size eiffgy of Elena, that Carl had made using the plaster mask he made after stealing her body in 1933. It seems love really did transcend death, or should I say obsession?

For More Info Visit:

The Strange Obsession of Dr. Carl Von Cosel
An YouTube video taken from the show Autopsy with Dr. Michael Baden on the case.

Elena's grave at Find A Grave.com

Karl's grave at Find A Grave.com

July 13, 2013

The Legend of Rudy

Women wanted him, and men wanted to be him. He was foreign, tall, dark, and handsome. He had all the makings for a leading man. However, we will never know how far his career could of gone, since his life was cut short at the young age of 31.

Rudolph Valentino was born in Castellaneta, Italy on May 6th 1895 with the long name of Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla to his French Mother, Marie Berta Gabrielle, and his Father, Giovanni Antonio Giuseppe Fedele Guglielmi di Valentina D'Antonguolla. He father was a veterinarian who died when Rudolph was only 11 years old. He had 3 siblings, an older brother, Alberto, an older Sister, Beatrice who died when she was a baby, and and a younger sister named Maria. He immgrated to the United States when he was 18 years old in 1913.

Broke, and working as a waiter, and a taxi dancer (is a paid dance partner in a partner dance), he tried to make his way. In 1917, Rudolph was in San Fransico acting in a play called Nobody Home. He met Norman Kerry a fellow actor who told Valentino to try movies.

Rudy enjoying the view from Falcon Lair.
In 1921 Valentino got his big break, by staring in the silent film, The Sheik directed by: George Melford. The film helped to mold Valentino's image and success. He stared in other movies such as The Eagle, and The Son of the Sheik, and The Four Horseman of The Apocalypse, and The Hooded Falcon.

Valentino bought four acres out side Hollywood in 1925, and named it Falcon Lair. He built a mansion, in the Spanish Colonial style, complete with fountains, and Italian trees. It was his refuge from Hollywood life. He furnished it with antiques from his travels all over the world. It was truly, a gentleman's paradise.

Suddenly, on August 15, 1926, Valentino collapsed at the Hotel Ambassador in New York City. He was hospitalized for appendicitis. Valentino had surgery to correct the condition. However, he later developed peritonitis which is inflammation of the tissue that lines the abdomen. His doctors were optimistic that he would recover. However, on August 21 he was stricken with a bad case of Pleurisy. In other words he developed inflammation of the pleura, the lining surrounding the lungs. On August 23rd 1926, Rudolph Valentino died and Hollywood mourned. He was only 31 years old.

Rudolph laid out at Campbell's Funeral Home.
The fans outside Campbell Funeral Home in New York.
His funeral was held at Frank Campbell Funeral Home in New York. Fans by the hundreds waited outside the funeral home to get a glimpse of Valentino. Riots broke out and there were reports of suicides of  overzealous fans. New York police lined the streets to keep order.

Valentino's friend and screenwriter of The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse and Blood and Sand, June Mathis gave Valentino her purchased crypt, at was once called Hollywood Memorial Park, now know as Hollywood Forever, to Valentino. He did not purchase any burial space before his death, partly because he was so young.

Rudolfo's crypt which once belonged to June Mathis.
Every year on the anniversary of Valentino's death, a woman draped in a black veil and dress carrying a long stemmed red rose has come to visit Valentino's crypt. People have said it's a devoted fan, or a ex fiance or lover of Valentino's, others say that it was a publicity stunt. However, it still continues today.

June Mathis happened to die a year after Valentino on July 26, 1927 from a heart attack. She was only 38 years old. She was buried along side Valentino in the adjoining crypt.

Falcon Lair

June Mathis
Rudolph's beloved Falcon Lair, was left to Valentino's family after his death. It was later sold to Doris Duke in the 1950s. Duke sold it in the 90s and it underwent major renovations, changing the charm and historical value of the estate, in my opinion. It went on sale again in 2009 for a mere, 7.95 million. You can still see some orginial buildings of Falcon Lair today, however most of it is gone.

Valentino was a legend in his time, and his name still lives on 87 years after his death. He lived a life of fame, riches, and lust. Women wanted him and men wanted to be him. He died too soon, but he will never be forgotten.

For more info visit:

Falcon Lair - The Rudolph Valentino Homepage

The Death of Rudolph Valentino - Find A Death

The Rudolph Valentino Society