Death is something that terrifies and fascinates human beings alike. Curiosity and the desire to understand it are only overshadowed when it appears and causes us so much pain, to the point that it can make some people develop psychological processes that are almost incomprehensible to others , as we will see in this article.
Necrophilia is a type of paraphilia that consists of physical and sentimental attraction to death and other aspects related to it. This can range from wanting to see someone die to wanting to be intimate with a dead person. In relation to necrophilia, we are going to discover one of the most notorious cases: that of Carl Tanzler.
Who was Carl Tanzler?
Born in 1877, Carl von Consel, also known as Carl Tanzler, was a radiologist who was born in Germany and spent much of his professional career at the Marine Hospital.
The exact reasons are unknown (although it is possible that he had something to do with the World War), but Carl used and signed different names; In addition to those already mentioned, we also find the names of Georg Karl Tanzler, as it appeared on the marriage certificate when he was consecrated in Germany, or Count Carl Tanzler von Cosel, with whom he used to sign the documents at the Marine Hospital.
This hospital is located on an island in Florida (United States) called Key West (a very appropriate name for the story.
Broadly speaking, he became famous for developing a great obsession with a young woman of Cuban and American origin. This obsession took on completely sinister “nuances” after her death that made him become one of the most famous necrophiliacs in history.
Biography of Carl Tanzler
Native of Dresden, capital of Saxony (Germany), little information is available about his childhood (which would undoubtedly be useful to understand his psyche).
In the 1920s he married Doris A., whom he lived with until 1977 (25 years older than him), with whom he was 12 years apart. With Doris he had 2 daughterscalled Ayesha Tanzler, who was born in 1922 and died in 1998 and Crystal Tanzler, born two years after her first daughter, but died in 1934 due to diphtheria (an infectious disease).
Like much of the German population at the time, Tanzler had to emigrate to Australia during the First World War. After a while, she emigrated again, but this time to the United States in 1926 (having previously spent time in Cuba).
Her trip to the United States was no accident, since her sister lived there , specifically in Florida, who had emigrated years ago.
In the end, although his family returned with him to Zephyrhills (Florida), he ended up going to the island of Key West.because that was where he found a job as a radiologist.
From radiologist to necrophiliac
We must understand that for someone to adopt such extreme tastes and behaviors, two conditions must always be met. The first is to present from the beginning certain psychological traits that predispose the person to fall into these tendencies, in the case that concerns us, necrophilia.
The second, but no less important, is that the person has lived through certain stressful or traumatic experiences that have caused those predisposing traits to unleash their full potential.
From the outset, Carl Tanzler commented on several occasions that he had had visions of a female ancestor of his.. Woman of course already deceased. This woman was a countess named Anna Constantia von Cosel. This ancestor, according to Carl, showed him the face of what would be the great love of her life, an “exotic” woman with “black hair”.
Without a doubt, this already denotes certain schizoid traits in Doctor Carl . But the trigger was the death of the famous Helen Hoyos and the obsessive love she professed for him.
Obsession and death of Helen Hoyos
Helen was a woman who was born in 1909 of Cuban and American parents. Mrs. Hoyos arrived at the hospital where Dr. Carl worked accompanied by her mother, since she was very ill.
Her goal in going to the hospital was to receive a physiological exam, but as soon as he saw her, Carl was petrified by her beauty .and in less than a second he discovered that Helen was the woman his ancestor had told him so much about.
The truth is that Helen was a woman who was popularly recognized on the island of Key West for her unmistakable beauty. A perfect breeding ground for the delusions of our poor doctor.
Unfortunately, the diagnosis was not very flattering, since he had tuberculosis, something really dramatic at the time with the medicine of the moment. The worse he was, the more obsessed Tanzler was , the more gifts he gave him and the more effort he put into curing him. However, all sources indicate that such feelings were never reciprocated.
Death came to Helen on October 25, 1931.
Necrophilia in its purest form
Tanzler was deeply damaged after Helen’s death. He built her a mausoleum where he could preserve her body and paid all the funeral costs . But his necrophilous impulses were not satisfied with this.
Carl visited Helen every night until he couldn’t take it anymore and decided to pick up her body and take it to her house with the help of a wheelbarrow.
After moving her, he discovered that her body was in very poor condition and he decided to rebuild it as best as possible with wires, filling the eye sockets with glass and dressing her body with different clothes.
The biggest problem was found when verifying that the skin was very damagedand the body in general showed a clear example of putrefaction. This led him to cover the body with silk fabrics that he mixed with plaster.
As for her smell, he had to use huge amounts of perfumes and disinfectants to be able to be in the room where he kept the body of the young woman, he also wore a wig when her hair began to fall out.
During all this time, Tanzler combined the time he spent caring for the corpse with having sexual relations with it.
The discovery of Dr. Necrofilo
In the mid-1940s, the deceased’s sister, Florinda, heard certain rumors that Tanzler slept daily with the body of her deceased sister.
One day he decided to check if these rumors were true or not. The first thing she did was go to the mausoleum, where she discovered that the body was missing . Immediately afterwards, he notified the authorities who arrested Dr. Tanzler and verified that the body was in his house and that the doctor was a necrophiliac.
He was charged with “malicious and lascivious destruction of a grave” and “extracting the body without authorization”. These charges despite being proven, Tanzler was not punished by law since the crimes had prescribed . In other words, since 9 years had elapsed since the body was desecrated, no legal punishment could be exercised.
To learn more:
Harrison, Ben (2001). Undying Love. St. Martin’s True Crime. ISBN 0-312-97802-2
SLOAN, David (1998): Ghosts of Key West. Phantom Press. ISBN 0-9674498-0-4
Swicegood, Tom (2003). VonCosell. iUniverse. ISBN 0-595-74652-7.