The accounts of Carl Von Cosel

Count Carl Von Cosel was not a real count. His actual name was Carl Tanzler and came from Germany where he lived with his wife and two daughters. He claimed that he had nine university degrees, was a submarine captain and an electrical inventor. In truth he was a lonely man living in a fantasy world

While working in the Marine hospital he met a 22-year old Elena Hoyos, a beautiful young Cuban girl who contracted tuberculosis. Even though she consistently resisted his advances, he fell madly in love with Elena. Von Cosel knew that Elena only had a short time to live and convince the young woman’s family that he could cure her with his special machines combined with daily doses of tonics.

Count Von Cosel began administering his unconventional treatments to Elena along with a proposal of marriage, which was met with strong disapproval from her father. Von Cosel was obsessed with Elena and gave Elena’s family many gifts with promises that he could restore her life. Tragically Elena’s disease took her life. She was first buried in a common grave but the grieving Von Cosel obtained approval from her family to move her body to a above ground mausoleum of his design. Discovering Elena’s body had never been embalmed he hired a local mortician to clean and fix-up the body before placing it in the new tomb that he alone had the key for.

Von Cosel visited Elena every night bringing gifts and flowers, and so he would sit and talk with her. He believed that she could communicate with him through voice and song.

"Ever since the moon began to wane, Elena had begun to sing in her casket with a very soft clear voice which became just a little bit stronger from night to night. It was always the same old Spanish song about a lover who opens the grave of his dead bride. I could distinctly hear and understand it’s every word.

This always lasted for no longer than perhaps ten minutes and then she fell silent as if expecting me to speak."

“Darling, I would say, very soon now the moon will change, the hour approaches when I shall take you home with me. I will clean you and wash you and I will put on your bridal dress, with veil and crown and all. Thus, as my bride, you will stay with me forever.” – Von Cosel

After two years Von Cosel removed Elena’s remains from her tomb and took them to a make-shift laboratory he had built inside the wingless fuselage of an old airplane behind the Marine hospital. There he began work on Elena’s corpse by wiring it together and using wax, plaster of paris, and glass eyes to restore her to “life.” When he learned that the military planned to move the old airplane fuselage, he secretly moved Elena’s corpse to Rest beach before relocating it to a shack on Flagler Street. He dressed Elena in a wedding dress and often slept with her as his wife. To keep her body preserved he used various oils, chemicals and perfume to mask the odor of decomposition. He continued restoring her facial features using mortician’s wax. Rumors started circulating around town, when confronted by Elena’s sister Nana she demanded that Von Cosel tell her the truth about the rumors. Reluctantly, he agreed to show Nana her dead sister’s corpse. The police were called.

Count Von Cosel was arrested and charged with grave robbing and abusing a corpse. He was convicted of grave robbery, but by the time the case went to trial the statute of limitations had expired and no sentence was imposed. The trial was so weird that it attracted not only the media but a huge crowd of curiosity seekers. Elena’s corpse was put on public display at the local funeral home so the curious could view it. Afterwards Elena’s remains were put into a metal box and buried in a secret location.

Harrison, B.(2007). Undying Love. New York: St. Martin's Press.