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

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