The Strange Afterlife of Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos

It was 1930 in sunny Key West, Florida, and Maria de Hoyos was dying of tuberculosis. Victorians described consumption as an illness that heightened the elegance and refinement of its victim, and that it was tragically beautiful to waste away with pallor and fragility. Maria would soon become the object of somebody’s very morbid obsession.

Maria was 21 years old, and the daughter of a Cuban cigar maker, whose life was already marred by tragedy. By all appearances, she was an attractive dark haired beauty queen who often wore red roses in her hair, drawing the attention of strangers who desired to photograph and court her. But death was creeping up close and fast.

Maria’s two sisters would later go on to die of tuberculosis, and her brother-in-law died while trying to save a construction worker from electrocution. Maria was married at the age of 16 to a man named Luis Mesa, who abandoned her after she miscarried their child. She would remain legally married to Luis until her death.

Maria’s life was not going well. And when she fell ill and her mother brought her into Marine Hospital in April of 1930, the disease would prove to be fatal. In the early 1900s, approximately 110,000 Americans would die each year from tuberculosis. The prognosis did not look positive for poor Maria.

Enter Carl Tanzler von Cosel, a German-born radiology technician who worked at the hospital. He was a cultured and intelligent man who had traveled across the world, to countries like Italy, India, Australia, Cuba and the Netherlands.

In fact, he had escaped from an Australian internment camp during WWI by building a makeshift sailboat after secretly studying engineering books. He claimed to have 9 academic degrees (most likely false), and was also purported to have aristocratic blood, going by the title of Count whenever he could get away with it.

Countess Anna

Although he was already married with 2 daughters, Carl was immediately struck by Maria’s appearance. He recognized her from a vision he had many years ago, when his dead ancestor Countess Anna Constantia von Brockdorff came to him in a dream and showed him the face of his true love and soulmate: a gorgeous dark-haired woman who looked exactly like Maria.

The Countess had an interesting story herself; being the mistress of 18th century King Augustus II of Poland. When the King grew tired of the feisty and headstrong Countess, he had her exiled, and she stayed that way for 49 years until her death. Historically, the Cosel family seemed to be haunted by bad luck.

Back to Carl: despite being in his 50s and resembling Sigmund Freud, he did not inhibit himself from making strong advances towards young Maria. He dedicated all his time to curing her, or at least attempting to do so.

The mad scientist at work

Like some medieval wizard, Carl conjured up odd concoctions, potions, tonics, elixirs, and herbs in order to treat her TB. He made house calls to Maria’s home, stealing the hospital’s x-ray machine to monitor her progress. He lavished her with gifts, and professed his undying love, telling her he would love and care for her even if she died.

Unfortunately for Carl, Maria did not reciprocate his romantic feelings, and turned down his proposals of marriage. Carl simply did not care, and continued indulging himself in unrequited love.

On October 25, 1931, Maria finally succumbed to TB, after struggling against the illness for a year and a half, which was how long Carl had spent orbiting her. She was only 22. He was devastated.

Before she died, Carl wrote in his journal how he “had hopes that, despite the extensive damage, the lesions would heal again. I had hopes that, when Elena was out of danger, we would get married. As long as she lived I never abandoned hope.”

The mausoleum, more like a tiny home than a crypt

Sadly, the story does not end here, and it takes a Weekend at Bernie’s sort of twist, but with some added necrophilia. Carl could not get over Maria’s death, so he decided to pursue her from beyond the grave.

With the consent of her family, Carl paid for Maria’s funeral and erected an elaborate mausoleum for her corpse. He had her coffin lined with formaldehyde and other preserving agents, and had a special key made for himself so he could come and go as he pleased. Carl spent hours at Maria’s gravesite everyday, talking to her corpse, singing songs to her, reading stories, and other crazy activities that are best left unspoken. This went on for two years.

Eventually, this was not enough. Carl claimed Maria began talking to him from the other side, telling him she was afraid of decaying and rotting. One night in 1933, he snuck her body out from the mausoleum in a toy wheelbarrow, and took her home with him. Maria’s family soon became puzzled when Carl stopped visiting her grave, but they just assumed that he had finally moved on. Little did they know…

Carl wrote in his memoirs:

“Elena, my darling, we are alone on this shore. He who has given you to me, will not reject our souls, united as they are in His undying love.”

Strong words from a man who was already technically rejected by Maria several times. Now that she was dead, she could not protest. Her body belonged to him. At home with her corpse, Carl set to work repairing the damage done by decomposition.

He replaced Maria’s brittle broken bones with coat hanger wire, and stuffed her torso with rags to keep her body in its original shape. He inserted glass eyes into her orbitals, and replaced her rotting skin with silk cloth coated by plaster of paris and wax.

For some reason, Maria’s mother possessed a wig made out of her daughter’s hair, and she gifted this to Carl. He would use this wig on Maria’s corpse, as the decomposition process had caused her hair to fall out.

Carl had to continuously preserve Maria’s decaying body, and mummification isn’t easy. He constantly applied disinfectants, deodorizer and formaldehyde to counteract the smells of putrefaction.

Maria’s corpse after the creepy makeover

Now the big necrophilia question arises: did he or didn’t he? Surprisingly, there are no contemporary sources that mention anything about necrophilia. All of the sources that make claims about this are modern. In 1972, two doctors who were present at Maria’s 1940 autopsy recalled how Carl had inserted a paper tube into the corpse’s vaginal canal to facilitate intercourse. There are no photographs or other sources to prove this.

In Carl’s autobiography, he does confess to kissing and cuddling Maria’s cadaver. He slept with the body in his bed, but he kept a curtain between them because he was an extreme gentleman. It isn’t very far off to believe that necrophilia played a part in this twisted romance, but it’s important to remember these claims are not fully proven.

At this point, Carl had lost his job at the hospital and was living in a remote shack which also housed his laboratory. His behaviour became too erratic to hold a job, and the hospital had found out he was stealing medical equipment from them.

Carl had basically abandoned his wife and children, and was more content living with a dead body than a live woman. For some reason, his wife Doris took pity on him and regularly mailed him money to help him survive his destitute situation.

The peculiar lab shack

He was seen shopping for women’s clothing, jewelry and perfumes, and everybody assumed Carl was seeing someone new and had finally moved on. Nosy neighbours who peered through Carl’s window saw him dancing with the figure of a woman, and some thought it was a large doll. However, he managed to keep Maria’s body in his home for seven years without being discovered.

In 1940, it was finally over. Maria’s sister heard weird rumours about Carl. She went over to his home to confront him, and found out his terrible secret. She reported him to the police, and Carl was arrested. He was charged with “wantonly and maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorization,” but the statute of limitations saved him from prosecution.

Surprisingly, a psychiatric evaluation by the court found Carl to be mentally competent. That seems extremely dubious.

As if this case wasn’t already bizarre enough, it takes an added sci-fi turn. Authorities found a homemade spaceship outside of Carl’s lab. Being a radiology technician, he of course had to go full mad scientist and attempt to go “high into the stratosphere, so that radiation from outer space could penetrate Elena’s tissues and restore life to her somnolent form.” Is necrophilia legal in outer space?

The homemade spacecraft

The jig was up, and authorities confiscated the corpse. Carl had the nerve to ask them to return it back to him, but his request was rejected.

Instead, Maria’s mummified remains were put on display at Dean-Lopez Funeral Home. The case was now the center of a media circus, and 6,800 spectators came to gawk at the macabre spectacle, paying $1 each for the privilege. After this, Maria was finally laid to rest at Key West Cemetery in an unmarked grave, to deter Carl from disturbing her eternal rest.

Oddly enough, the public found Carl to be a sympathetic figure; a tragic romantic who had lost his beloved to cruel fate. They either ignored or were unaware of the necrophilic aspects of the “relationship.”

An egregious display

A defeated Carl shuffled off to Pasco County, Florida to patch together some semblance of a life. Before leaving, he dynamite bombed the mausoleum he had created for Maria, to spite authorities.

Not surprisingly, he was still obsessed. He created a life-like effigy and mask of her face, to replace the confiscated cadaver. He wrote his autobiography in 1947, and received American citizenship in 1950, because what’s more American than defiling a dead body? Doris continued to support her deranged and estranged husband financially.

Carl died alone in 1952, at the age of 75. His body was not discovered until three weeks after his death. Ironically, the man who prevented Maria from decomposing was himself rotting alone on the floor of his home for several weeks.

Carl holds a death mask of Maria

For his final diary entry, Carl had written:

“Human jealousy has robbed me of the body of my Elena, yet divine happiness is flowing through me for she has survived death. Forever and ever, she is with me.”

Standing above him as he died was a wax figure of Maria. From 1930 to 1952, he had endlessly obsessed over this woman. For nearly 22 years, she had been the focus of his life, alive or dead. To some, it is the ultimate romance, and to others, it is a grotesque tale of violation.

Maria Elena lies in some unmarked Floridian grave, in an 18 inch casket. The former corpse bride is now at rest.

The Cold-Blooded Murder of Sharmini Anandavel

It was the summer of 1999, and 15-year old Sharmini Anandavel needed to earn some quick cash to buy a middle school graduation outfit. Her family had immigrated from Sri Lanka to Toronto, Canada a few years back, and had a hard time supporting themselves as her parents barely spoke any English. Sharmini took it upon herself to raise money to buy a fancy dress and shoes.

She told her parents she had found a job answering phones in an office. But to her friends, she claimed she was to be employed as an undercover drug operative. Her parents had offered to give her a ride to work that day, but Sharmini had refused. She was hiding something.

Sharmini never returned from work that day. 4 months later, her skeletonized remains were found by a hiking father and son in a ravine by a river, carelessly tossed into a shallow grave. Her body had decomposed from the summer heat, and had been ravaged by coyotes who lived in a den nearby.

Sharmini was identified from her dental records, since there was nothing but a skull and bone fragments left as evidence. Investigators also found hair and fingernails that were painted blue, just as Sharmini had done before disappearing.

Her classmates and teachers were shocked. She was described by everyone as a vivacious, outgoing and often mouthy girl, who would never hesitate to stand up for herself. The boy sitting next to Sharmini was crushing on her, and teachers were often bemused by her witty sense of humour. How could she vanish without a trace, on the way to some obtuse job offer?

In Sharmini’s apartment complex, there lived a man named Stanley Tippett, a troubled individual with severe facial deformities caused by Treacher-Collins syndrome, and a criminal rap sheet longer than a novel.

Stanley was 23 at the time, and married with children. He did however have a creepy roving eye, and pretended to be a police officer so he could lure children in the complex to go swimming and on drives with him. In reality, he was a bum who struggled to gain employment and took his rage out on the rest of the world.

He stalked several women throughout his life, once offering a fake job to a woman at a Wal-Mart fair, then proceeding to visit her house repeatedly to leave her gifts. Stanley once kidnapped a 12 year old girl, who was luckily saved when bystanders heard her scream. He had even kidnapped a woman from a bus stop with a fake gun, pressing it to her head and only relenting when she lied to him that she had HIV and was on her period.

Witnesses claim to have seen Stanley around Sharmini at the apartment before her disappearance, and police believe he had made a false job offer to her, pretending to be an officer who would pay her to go undercover. Police found a job application in her bedroom which looked scam-like, but Sharmini was naive and accepted it in good faith. Stanley had probably advised her to keep the fake police job a secret, but Sharmini had told her friends, though she didn’t mention his name.

That Saturday June 12 morning sealed Sharmini’s fate. Stanley had most likely lured her to a remote location, and assaulted and killed the innocent teenager who was merely looking for a job to buy herself a beautiful dress.

Stanley currently rots in jail for other sexual assault related offenses, but refuses to confess to Sharmini’s murder, and detectives do not have any concrete evidence to tie him to her death either. All that exists is circumstantial evidence, which is inadmissible in court.

How and why Sharmini died remains a mystery. All we know is that she was taken advantage of by a disturbed human being, and that her tragic story serves as a warning to never trust anyone.

Dead in a Desert: The Murder of Valentine Sally

In the early morning hours of Feb 3, 1982, a young girl with a toothache showed up at an old truck stop in the midst of a dusty Arizona desert. She was blonde, youthful, and beautiful; catching the eye of everyone around her. And she would soon be dead.

She was nicknamed Valentine Sally, after the day her body was discovered. But there was nothing romantic about her death.

On Feb 2, a university student claimed to have picked up a hitchhiking girl who matched her description. The girl was troubled and was escaping from a discordant family situation. She lived with friends and had the unfortunate profession of dishwasher, and was looking to hitchhike all the way to New Jersey. Sad to say, she wouldn’t make it.

That fateful morning at the truck stop was when she was last seen alive, and was most likely where she met her killer. Waitress Patty Wilkins said of her:

″She was a blonde, a pretty girl. I assumed she was about 16 or 17 years old. We’ve been in this little truck stop for 17 years and as a rule when a girl comes in off a truck and looks too young, we pull her off, the sheriff’s office comes along and they send her home.″

The old man wore a cowboy hat with a peacock feather on it

But this time, Patty would not report the teenage runaway to the sheriff. That’s because the girl was accompanied by a concerned old man in his 60s, dressed head to toe in cowboy gear. Some sources even claim she was accompanied by two men, and witnesses in the truck stop say they appeared almost familial.

The girl was in pain because her lower molar had been drilled for a root canal, and her mouth hurt too much to eat any food. She asked for aspirin instead. Whoever she was, this girl was definitely a homeless hitchhiker suffering something awful.

However, she was wearing a nice pair of designer jeans, as well as a candy-cane striped red and white sweater. She was around 5’5 and 120 lbs, a healthy weight for her size. The girl wore a 36C bra, had her ears pierced, and had a white handkerchief with her. To outsiders, she appeared well taken care of. She didn’t appear disheveled or poor, and could somehow afford dental care.

There were several scars on her feet and thighs, indicating either clumsiness or abuse.

The cozy pinstripe sweater

On Valentine’s Day, 11 days after she was seen at the truck stop, the girl was found dead near Interstate 40. There had been an accident by the highway, and authorities were looking for blown out car parts. Instead they saw a strawberry-blonde head face down in the sand.

Upon turning the body over, police discovered that most of her face had been eaten away by animals, as she had lain decomposing for almost 2 weeks in the arid and humid desert. Some animal had torn off and made away with her right ear.

She was lying under a cedar tree, about 25 ft from the main road. Her belt loops were nearly torn and her sweater pulled over her head, as her killer had dragged her corpse off of a truck by her clothes and flung her onto the ground.

The girl’s cause of death is unknown, but authorities suspect suffocation. Thankfully, she had not been sexually assaulted.

A rather creepy 1982 sketch of Valentine Sally

Police were unable to solve this perplexing case. They never found the creepy old truck driver(s) who accompanied Valentine Sally to the diner, and most assume that he was the killer and had gotten away with it. The 1970s and 1980s were an era of impunity for long-distance truck drivers who killed naive hitchhikers.

In 1984, Valentine Sally was misidentified as Melody Cutlip, a Floridian runaway, thanks to a moronic odontologist literally named Homer. Melody’s mother rejected the identification. Call it a mother’s intuition.

Homer mismatched the teeth of the two girls, and Melody returned to her parents’ home in 1986 alive and well, proving him wrong. Tragically, Melody would die in 1998 in a car accident, cutting her action-packed life short.

Valentine Sally lies in a grave wrongly marked “Melody Cutlip,” over 30 years after the world realized that was not even her. The only person that comes out of this ordeal with some humanity is the waitress Patty Wilkins, who last saw the blonde girl with the toothache alive.

Patty paid $168 in 1984 to have Valentine Sally buried in a decent grave. Adjusted for inflation, that is over $400. And that was on a truck stop waitress’ salary. Perhaps she felt haunted by the girl who left her diner, only to lose her life as well.

“I’m sorry I dismembered him” – The Gory Tale of Omaima Nelson

They call her the female Jeffrey Dahmer. The femme fatale Hannibal Lecter. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill, but she’s a worthy candidate.

23 year old petite, barely 5 ft tall, olive-skinned beauty Omaima Aree Nelson shocked the world when she was discovered to have murdered, dismembered, and possibly even cannibalized her glorified sugar daddy of a husband, 56 year old William “Bill” Nelson.

Bill was a large man at 6’4 and 230 lbs. He was a former pilot, dishonored after he was convicted of smuggling marijuana in Texas and electronics to Mexico, and served hard time for it in federal prison. He managed to get out and rebuild his life by attaining a job at a mortgage company.

Omaima on Bill’s little red Corvette, soon to store his body parts

Omaima was an Egyptian immigrant who had arrived in the U.S.A. at the age of 18, after a tough and horrible early life in Cairo. Her family made her undergo female genital mutilation during her childhood, which made sex unbearable and uncomfortable for Omaima in later life.

She tried her hand at modelling gigs and worked as a nanny for a time, but most of all, she was looking for a consistent sugar daddy. She had been with several wealthy older men, but nothing had come out of it.

Until she met Bill at a California bar. The pair played pool together, and something clicked. She had found a sugar daddy, and he had found a kept woman. They married after a whirlwind courtship which lasted not more than a few weeks. It would be the worst decision of both their lives.

The unhappy couple

Bill’s manager would describe the couple as “real quiet, mysterious people” who were married way too soon. Bill’s daughter was disgusted her father married such a young woman, and refused to interact with the pair.

Omaima claimed that Bill began beating and raping her soon after marrying, and he would tell her that “I paid for you, I’m getting what I paid for.” She even claimed he had thrown her kitten out of a moving car. However, Omaima had previously been arrested for assaulting an ex with a gun after tying him up, and then demanding money from him at gunpoint. Who was to be believed?

On Thanksgiving day in 1991, Omaima decided that Bill’s time was up. They had been married for barely a month.

According to Omaima, she asserted that Bill had tried to rape her again that night, and she was forced to kill him in self defense. The autopsy found that Bill’s feet were bound during the murder, and Omaima had a history of performing bondage on her sugar daddies. It seemed unlikely that she would have been able to subdue such a large man, had he not been bound.

The prosecution argued that she had tied him up, fooling Bill into believing the bondage was part of a sex game, then brutally murdered him in cold blood while he lay helplessly bound.

The lamp used as a bludgeoning tool

The details of the murder are gruesome: he was struck in the head with a lamp, causing blunt force trauma. He was then stabbed with scissors, and beaten with a clothes iron. It is unclear when in the attack he died, but it must have been excruciatingly painful. The Costa Mesa apartment was completely drenched in blood.

As if the murder wasn’t extreme enough, Omaima then proceeded to dismember her dead husband. She decapitated him, cooked his head, and put it in the freezer. She cut off his hands and boiled them in hot oil to remove traceable fingerprints. Bill was also castrated, as revenge for the alleged sexual assaults, and his lower body, legs, and torso were skinned with a knife.

The bloodied mattress Bill was killed on

Omaima wrapped Bill’s remains in newspaper and foil, and put them in garbage bags in their trash can, mixing them with Thanksgiving turkey leftovers. She put sections of the corpse in the garbage disposal chute, and neighbours heard the machine grinding his body parts for 48 hrs after the murder. They “heard the garbage disposal go on for a long time . . . and constant chopping sounds.”

The next day, Omaima drove around in Bill’s 1975 red Corvette, asking friends and exes to help her dispose of Bill’s plentiful remains, which lay in the back seat of her trunk. She even offered a pal $75k for assistance. The friend wasn’t having any of it, and called the cops immediately. Omaima would watch calmly as the police removed bags filled with bloody pieces of corpse from the vehicle.

When police raided their apartment, they found “suitcases and plastic bags soaked with dark liquid from his body parts,” and “in the fry cooker there sat Mr. Nelson’s hands, and when we opened the refrigerator there was Mr. Nelson’s head with stab wounds.” Coincidentally, police had also found severed heads in Jeffrey Dahmer’s fridge earlier that year, in July of 1991.

Refrigerated severed head, anyone?

Omaima managed to successfully dispose of 130 lbs of Bill’s body, and authorities were never able to find the missing body parts.

In court, there began a sensational trial. The most startling accusation of all is that Omaima cannibalized Bill’s remains. According to the psychiatrist who interviewed her in jail, Omaima had donned red lipstick, a red hat, and red high heels before she set out to dismember the corpse.

Omaima would deny it later on, but she told the psychiatrist that she had cooked Bill’s ribs and eaten them with barbecue sauce. She had enjoyed cooking him and said she  “did his ribs just like in a restaurant.” While sitting at a table and consuming his remains, Omaima talked aloud to herself, saying “it’s so sweet, it’s so delicious. . . . I like mine tender.”  At least she enjoyed the meal.

The psychiatrist said he had never seen anyone “so bizarre, so psychotic” in 20 years of medical practice, and said that her early years of abuse and genital mutilation in Egypt had left her mentally unhinged and plagued by PTSD and anger.

At the trial, she argued in her defense; “If I didn’t defend my life, I would have been dead. I’m sorry it happened, but I’m glad I lived. I’m sorry I dismembered him. I swear to God I did not eat any part of him. I am not a monster.”

In an extremely odd defense of his client, Omaima’s lawyer argued that she had dismembered Bill according to Ancient Egyptian tradition, fearing her husband would haunt her in the afterlife. In the myth of Osiris, his traitorous brother Set drowns him, then cuts him into 14 pieces and scatters his body across Egypt. Osiris’ wife Isis travels through Egypt and finds every body part, then puts him back together. With the exception of his phallus, which was devoured by fish in the Nile. Jurors did not buy this religious background story as adequate defense.

Omaima was convicted of second degree murder. Some jurors believed her tales of abuse, and others felt she was lying. After seeing images of the butchered corpse, a traumatized juror said, “All I want to do right now is go home and go to bed. You had to see the pictures (of the victim). The pictures were bad enough.”

Omaima is still in prison, and has been denied parole at every chance. She says she has turned a new leaf, but ironically enough, she found a new sugar daddy while in jail. The man was in his 70s, and is now deceased. She said of him; “We had three-day conjugal visits. There were knives in the kitchen. He never felt threatened or endangered in any way. I loved him so much.” Whoever this man was, he certainly was brave.

The Chilling Disappearance of Asha Degree

Asha Degree was a nine-year old girl who went missing from her North Carolina home on Feb 14, 2000, and was never heard from again.

The case is startling for many reasons, the most disturbing aspect of it being that she appears to have willingly left her bedroom on a rainy night around 3 AM to go outside for a yet to be explained cause.

Asha had packed her black bookbag and Tweety purse with several items before leaving home, including a few pairs of shirts, overalls, jeans, her basketball uniform, a pair of shoes, her wallet, family photos and a house key. Where was a 9-year old girl going with these items in the middle of the night? The lack of answers is puzzling.

Around 4 AM, two separate drivers saw a little girl in white shirt and pants walking down Highway 18. One of the motorists became concerned how “strange [it was that] such a small child would be out by herself at that hour,” especially due to the fact there was a heavy pouring rainstorm that night. The driver tried to pull over to help the girl, but Asha seemed to have been upset by this and ran deep into the woods to avoid him.

When her parents awoke the next morning around 6 am, it was Valentine’s day and the couple’s anniversary. They found their daughter had disappeared without a trace.

This was a shock to them as Asha was a shy, reserved girl who was afraid of dogs and never acted wildly or unpredictably. By all accounts, her family was strict and disallowed computers in the home, and always made sure their kids did their homework on time. Asha was on her 4th grade basketball team, and had cried about losing a game a few days before her disappearance.

Police performed a search all over Asha’s neighbourhood the very same morning, but could not find anything until Feb 15, during which they discovered candy wrappers, a pencil, a marker and a Mickey Mouse hair bow in a shed close to the highway Asha had been seen walking down.

Aged composite of Asha in her 20s

No other evidence was discovered until a year later in 2001, when Asha’s bookbag was dug up during construction work near Highway 18. The bag was wrapped in plastic, and had Asha’s name and phone number inside it. The FBI went on to DNA test the bag, but the results were kept secret. No evidence of Asha was ever found after this, though police did say she may have been seen getting into a green 1970s Lincoln or Ford on the night of her highway excursion.

The discovery of Asha’s buried backpack from the highway construction site was a bad sign, proof to many that someone had killed her. There are many theories about what happened to her, but few answers.

Some say Asha had left the home to prepare a Valentine’s + anniversary surprise for her parents. Some say her parents had done something to cause her to run away, or were involved in a more unnerving manner. Others believe a predator in Asha’s life lured her outside somehow, then kidnapped and killed her. Asha could have been a victim of a hit and run, with the rain washing away any evidence of her death on the highway. Or even more skin-crawling, somebody could have picked the girl up off of the road and kidnapped her that night.

There is no closure as of yet, but this is one of the most mysterious and frightening unsolved disappearance cases in recent American history. There must have been something deeply wrong in her life for a girl so young to go off alone on a stormy night without telling anyone, and then to vanish with no explanation. Wherever Asha may be, and to whomever may have abducted her, one can only say this: Her disappearance will never be forgotten.

Shot to Death and Dumped by the Shore: The Lime Lady

The “Lime Lady” is an unidentified murder victim found in Jones, Oklahoma in April of 1980. She was discovered naked on the shore of the North Canadian river and died by 3 gunshot wounds to the chest. She was approx. 18-25 yo, and slender at 5′7 and 115 lbs. Her face and chest were freckled.

She was nicknamed after the quicklime her killer had tried to use to enhance her decomposition, but it had the opposite effect and due to the river’s moisture, she was almost mummified. She was clothed when she was murdered, her killer having stripped her nude after death.

A creepy composite sculpture

Her arms showed evidence that someone had dragged her to the river to kill her, and her killer appeared to have been walking towards her when shooting her. The force of one bullet had embedded a dime in her chest.

Said police chief Bob Green; “We have never been able to identify this girl for all this time. I believe she was dumped there and that this was the second crime scene. She was killed elsewhere.”

The 1cm heart tattoo above her left breast

The only unique identifiers on her were an appendectomy scar and a heart-shaped tattoo on her chest. She has been unidentified for nearly 40 years. Police suspect she may have been killed by a biker gang, or was a runaway from a foster home, but nothing has ever been confirmed. The Lime Lady’s life and end remain an unsolved mystery.

Update:

As of Jan. 30, 2020, The Lime Lady has finally been identified as U.S. military soldier Tamara Lee Tigard!

40 years after her death, DNA Doe Project solved the mystery by uploading her file to their database, using samples of blood, oral swabs, and dental x-rays to make their conclusion.

Tamara was born in California in 1959, and was killed before her 21st birthday. She held an SPC (Specialist) rank in the army. On Feb. 24, 1979 in Nevada, she married a Chadwick Ryan Carr; a man with an extensive criminal record. They divorced mere months later. He is still alive and in his 60s.

Oddly, she was living in Las Vegas at the time at the time of her death. Tamara disappeared without a trace after leaving her home to go for a walk.

How did she end up dead over 1000 miles away in Oklahoma? This question is yet to be answered. There was a 4 week window between her disappearance and the discovery of her body near the North Canadian river.

Tamara’s police case was closed long ago after a woman falsely used her identity in Ohio. The identity of this woman is now unknown, as well as the extent of her involvement in Tamara’s murder. Police do, however, have a photo of the identity thief and are working on finding her.

Unfortunately, all of Tamara’s immediate family members are now deceased. The only people that could be notified of her body’s discovery were second cousins. Sadly, her parents died without ever knowing what happened to their daughter.

Tamara’s killer is still yet to be found. Let us hope the killer is uncovered and that she receives posthumous justice!

Jean Spangler’s Eerie 1940s Hollywood Disappearance

It was October. 7, 1949, and 26-year old actress and model Jean Spangler was living out her last known day on earth. After this, she would vanish like a mirage, without a trace. She left behind a mystery more tangled than a film noir plot.

Jean asked her sister-in-law Sophie to babysit her five-year old daughter while she went out that evening. It was 5 pm in autumn L.A., and the sun was setting on the city of dreams. Where was Jean going?

Jean claimed she was meeting her ex-husband Dexter Benner, to discuss an increase in child support payments. One can imagine he wasn’t too happy with that. Their marriage had ended in a messy divorce three years earlier, with a dramatic custody battle in which Dexter declared Jean an “unfit mother,” and threatened to take her daughter away from her forever.

Jean cries during her 1948 custody battle

She was known to be a party girl who ran in a rough crowd of mobsters, wannabe bit-part players, and Hollywood B-list stars. Jean was like a slightly more successful Elizabeth Short, although they both shared the same jet-black hair, sea-blue eyes and ambition for stardom. And they would both have their lives snuffed out much too early.

Before Jean’s disappearance, actor and friend Robert Cummings had claimed she had told him “I have a new romance,” and when asked if it was serious, she had said “Not really, but I’m having the time of my life.” Jean was known to be terrible at choosing men, as every relationship she had would end in financial, legal or physically violent disaster.

Later on, stumped detectives would complain how “The only thing we’ve been able to find out, is that this girl really got around.” 

Even more troubling, Jean was believed to be three months pregnant before she vanished. And she was not ready to deal with another child. Her friends had claimed she was searching for a doctor to perform a back-alley abortion, as the procedure was illegal at the time.

The troubled girl originally from grim Seattle, who wormed her way into glamorous L.A. and Hollywood supporting roles, could not steer clear of dangerous men. There would be far too many suspects in this case, and far too few answers.

Two hours after Jean left home that cool autumn evening, she phoned Sophie and let her know she would be coming home late because she was filming on a movie set. Later on into the investigation, the Screen Extra’s Guild would inform police that they had found no evidence she was working that night.

The last confirmed appearance of Jean was at a farmer’s market near her home at 6 pm. An employee said Jean appeared to be waiting for someone. Her whereabouts afterwards remain a mystery.

Sophie grew alarmed when Jean didn’t return home the next morning, and reported her disappearance to the police.

Jean’s discarded purse was soon found in a park 9 km from her home, with the straps nearly torn off, indicating some sort of violent force. Her body would never be found, and she seemed to have vanished into thin air.

The purse with the broken straps

In her purse was a cryptic note:

“Kirk: Can’t wait any longer, Going to see Dr. Scott. It will work best this way while mother is away.”

Police took this to mean that Jean was aborting the baby of a man named Kirk, and Dr. Scott was the abortionist she had snuck away to see that night. Or it was a bizarre Star Trek reference.

Her mother had gone away to visit family in Kentucky at the time, but other family members were still present at the home. It seemed absurd to think that she would’ve been able to hide a bloody and messy illicit abortion from her mother, daughter, sister-in-law, and brother.

The theories of what happened to disappearing Jean are as follows:

No# 1. The killer was Kirk Douglas, alleged to have a mean streak towards women (read about his supposed rape of Natalie Wood). Jean had a bit part in Young Man with a Horn, a corny 1950 musical starring Kirk, Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, and Hoagy Carmichael. She was on her way up, climbing the map of stars, but somebody would tear her down.

Kirk claimed to not have known Jean, then later recanted that they had talked a bit on set. Jean’s mother claimed a man named Kirk had once picked her daughter up from home, but had chosen to wait in his car rather than come inside. Many claim the coincidence in name was too odd to be true, as how many women out there get down with a Kirk? Perhaps they had a secret affair, and things went sour when he found out she was pregnant.

Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall on the set of Young Man with a Horn

2. Ex-husband Dexter Benner and his new wife Lynn had killed Jean due to her requesting more ample child support payments, and for being a hindrance in general for the couple. Lynn was supposed to be a friend of mobster Mickey Cohen, and Dex was still bitter about having lost custody of his daughter. This makes for a toxic formula.

Jean had also cheated on Dexter with a man named Scotty during their marriage, which caused the couple to divorce. Dex could have been holding a humiliation and rage-fueled grudge for this, and finally exploded in violence. However, Lynn covered for Dexter and gave him an alibi, saying they were together when Jean’s disappearance occurred.

3. Scotty, the man Jean had an affair with. Like in the plot of From Here to Eternity, Jean had met Scotty while her husband was stationed in the army in the South Pacific.

Spurned ex-husband Dexter Benner

He was said to be a tall and handsome air corps lieutenant, who was much better at giving her a good time than her stuffy manufacturer businessman husband. Jean seemed to have only married Dexter for the financial stability he had given her, and looked for excitement outside of the marriage.

The tropical romance with Scotty had turned violent, and he eventually beat Jean and gave her a black eye. Scotty threatened to kill her if she ever left him. This was the last straw for Jean, and she ended the affair. Scotty’s lawyer claimed they hadn’t spoken since 1945. Some suspect the “Scott” in the note is damning evidence, but the lieutenant was nowhere close to being a doctor.

4. The suspicious “Dr. Scott” mentioned in the letter was an abortionist Jean had gone to see that night. The risky procedure went wrong, and Jean had died, causing the doctor to panic and dump her body somewhere secret. The police were never able to find this elusive suspect, or any other abortionist or doctor who they could link to Jean.

The infamous note

5. Mobsters had killed Jean. She was romantically linked to gangster Davy Ogul, who himself disappeared two days after Jean had. He was the henchman of mob boss Mickey Cohen, ironically also a friend of her ex-husband’s wife. Some say he had turned against his former boss, and planned to testify against him in court. Months after Jean’s disappearance, a hotel clerk would claim she saw her in the company of Davy and other mob men in Texas.

Despite all these leads, police could not piece together any coherent resolution. The case was more muddled than a Raymond Chandler noir novel, and even worse, no more physical evidence was found after the discovery of Jean’s purse and the brief note.

Police search for Jean’s remains at Griffith Park

Dexter gained custody of the couple’s daughter Christine after his wife’s vanishing, though Jean’s mother attempted to gain visitation rights. Defying court orders, Dexter and Lynn took the girl to Florida and never returned.

As for Jean’s mother, she said about her daughter “I’m sure she would have communicated with us if she was alive and free. And nobody can tell me she’d have left her baby unless she was forced to.”

Mother Florence mourns her daughter

The case went stone cold, and no more useful evidence was discovered after 1950. Some even claim she was murdered by the same unknown killer who had taken the life of the Black Dahlia a few years earlier. The dark-haired beauties remain symbols of lost dreams in the nightmarish and crime-filled landscapes of 1940s L.A.

Jean was the prototypical Old Hollywood starlet searching for fame and fortune on the silver screen, but instead she sunk down into the harrowing and hellish depths of tinseltown, and was mostly likely kidnapped, murdered, and disposed of by a cruel individual. And so what else could have been said by 1949 newspapers other than this: Jean Spangler has vanished and we will never see her beautiful black and white silhouette onscreen as a lead.

Jean’s five year-old daughter Christine would never see her mom again

La Pascualita, the Eternal Corpse Bride

La Pascualita is a beautiful hyper realistic 1930s bridal mannequin on display in a shop in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Visitors are often surprised at how genuinely human she looks, as she has visible veins on her legs, thick dark textured eyelashes, soft skin with pores, extremely intricate hands and nails, and a penetrating, strange gaze that spooks passerbys.

She is believed to be the mummified corpse of a bride who died of a black widow spider bite on her wedding day in 1930. She was then supposedly embalmed and put on display by her mother, Pascuala Esparza, who owned the bridal shop.

There are some very outrageous and fairy-tale like stories about La Pascualita. Rumor has it that a French magician once fell in love with her, and cast a spell to make her come back to life so he could take her out for a night on the town, like some phantasmic Cinderella.

Employee Sonia Burciaga said that “Every time I go near Pascualita my hands break out in a sweat. Her hands are very realistic and she even has varicose veins on her legs. I believe she’s a real person.”

Others have also claimed the alleged corpse bride’s eyes follow them around and that she moves positions through the shop at night. For now, we have no way of knowing whether La Pascualita is made of wax or flesh. But she is, quite literally, a mannequin with a life of her own.

Too lifelike to be synthetic

The Girl Who Vanished: Rory Gene Kesinger

Rory Gene Kesinger was a 24 year old drug dealer, bank robber and gun runner who went missing in 1973 and was never heard from again.

What stands out about her are bizarre tales of her escapes and encounters with authority, which were like something out of a vintage Hollywood movie. She is perhaps the most interesting forgotten female outlaw out there.

Rory was a 5’3, 118 lbs beauty with translucent blue eyes, caught up in the stereotypical hippie vagabond lifestyle of the 1970s. She ran away from home at the age of 15. Her family has never seen her since then.

Looking baked in an odd mugshot

Ironically, her father was a security director who prevented shoplifting in department stores. He could not, however, control his wild daughter. In 1969, Rory’s dad wrote a hilarious Letter to the Editor column in the Daily Illinois State Journal, regarding the “out of hand” situation of youths and shoplifting:

“We in security realize that shoplifting is sometimes brought about in our younger set because of their desire to feel ‘in’ with friends. Whatever that ‘thing’ is, kicks derived from theft would no longer be if these same youths were educated as to the consequences a court conviction would have on their young lives.”

Poor Mr. Kesinger. Can you imagine this square and sanctimonious man’s reaction to his daughter’s sexy, exciting life of crime? He was, most likely, traumatized.

Rory really got around: she was said to have been wanted by police in several states, such as Kansas, California, Texas, and Alaska.

A cop found Rory running around naked in the woods of Pembroke, Massachusetts, dressed only in lingerie in January of 1973.

She informed him that she had been raped, but when he took her to the safety of his home, she switched out the lights, pulled out a gun and told him “I’m sorry, but I have to kill you.” 

The officer managed to tackle and wrestle the gun away from Rory, and afterwards stated that, “You would just not think that a nice- looking girl like that would kill you in a heartbeat.”

After being escorted to a hospital, Rory pulled a gun on a caseworker, as well as a cop, yelling “die you fucking pig.” She was tackled down and subdued yet again.

An avid drug user, Rory was supposedly high during all of these arrests, which gave her the courage to act stupidly brave, even when in the cross-hairs of a gun. Perhaps this also brought about her demise.

Rory was finally incarcerated in Plymouth County jail, but on the night of May 26, 1973, she managed to escape when someone smuggled a hacksaw inside the jail to her. A corrupt guard may have also been involved.

She sawed the bars off of her cell and tied bedsheets together to escape into the dark and foreboding summer night.

The sheriff says that “in the old prison, which is still up, you can still see the cut marks on the bars where she cut out.” What a legend.

After this escape she was never seen again and was most likely killed and then secretly buried by her criminal associates.

15-year old Rory in her high school portrait.

According to Provincetown police Detective Warren Tobias, he was informed by an associate of Rory’s who was arrested with her in 1974 that she was “pushing up daisies.” There was no doubt that she did not live long after her daring dash from jail.

Rory was long suspected to be the Lady of the Dunes, an unfortunate young woman who was found murdered on a beach blanket on July 26, 1974 in Massachusetts.

The poor red-haired girl was raped, strangled so hard that she was nearly decapitated, violently bludgeoned on one side of the head, and her hands removed to prevent fingerprint identification.

The battered corpse of the victim, found in brush by a road.

However, after exhuming the body and testing it alongside Rory’s elderly mother (the poor woman was in her 80s at the time), it was found that there was no DNA match between them. Rory is not the Lady of the Dunes!

Sadly, Rory’s body was never found, nor any viable trace of her yet. Her fate (as well as that of the Dunes Lady) is still an unsolved mystery.

The Tragedy of Betty Williams: Teen Angst with a Body Count

Betty Williams was a 17 year old girl who was murdered via shotgun to the head by her football player ex-boyfriend in March of 1961. The case is even sadder than it seems: the ex, fellow teen high schooler John “Mack” Herring, claimed that Betty was so despondent over their break-up that she begged him to kill her.

It sounds absurd at first, like a ridiculous ploy for a guilty killer to cover up a cold-blooded murder. And yet, Betty’s classmates claim she was in a fog of depression and suicidality after her relationship with Mack went sour.

On the day of her murder, Betty wrote in her diary:

“I want everyone to know that what I’m about to do in no way implicates anyone else. I say this to make sure that no blame falls on anyone other than myself.

I have depressing problems that concern, for the most part, myself. I’m waging a war within myself… So rather than admit defeat I’m going to beat a quick retreat into the no man’s land of death.

As I have only the will and not the fortitude necessary, a friend of mine, seeing how great is my torment, has graciously consented to look after the details.

His name is Mack Herring and I pray that he will not have to suffer for what he is doing for my sake. I take upon myself all blame, for there it lies, on me alone!

This is an explanation, not an absolution. Her story is grim, and the judgments of Betty’s character which were made after her death were disheartening.

Betty was an outcast at her Odessa, Texas high school. In a moralistic 1950s southern environment, Betty defied all restrictions and slept with boys she wasn’t “going steady” with. Her classmates judged her, and in modern jargon she would be called a hoe. She was often pretentiously intellectual, and was fascinated by Beatnik literature and the subversive stand up comedy of Lenny Bruce.

Creepily prescient in doing so, she played Juliet in her school production of Romeo & Juliet.

Rather than bite the bullet and try to fit in among her prudish peers, Betty spread communist-style, pro-racial equality pamphlets throughout her school. She raised their ire, and classmates thought she was crazy for espousing these ideals.

Worst of all: she wore tight 1950s thot sweaters with no bra on.

Mack, on the other hand, was a middle-class, well groomed paragon of normalcy. He was a popular well-liked football player, a jock with more brawn than brains. Friends say he had an empathetic streak: when he wounded an animal while hunting, he would honor its life and finish it off. He was an ace with a gun.

In the summer of 1960, Mack and Betty began seeing each other. Mack would sleep with Betty and treat her like a “good-time girl,” but never treated her like a girlfriend. She would never meet his parents or friends.

This enraged Betty, who immaturely proceeded to cheat on Mack with a football buddy to make him jealous. Mack responded by dropping her like a hot potato. Betty fell into a deep melodramatic depression. Her diaries and letters read:

“I’ve never been so hurt in my life and I guess your note was the jolt I needed to get me back on the straight and narrow. I’ve done a lot of things, I know, that were bad and cheap, but I swear before God that I didn’t mean them to be like that. I was just showing off. “

“I feel so lonely and deserted I don’t care what happens now or ever. … This is pure hell!”

“I am consumed with this burning emptiness and loneliness that has taken charge of me, body and soul. I have to fight it! If I am to live I have to fight [or] else it will pull me down, down, down into that thankless pit of fear, pain, and agonized loneliness.”

You’ve made me realize that instead of being smart and sophisticated like I thought, I was only being cheap and ugly and whorish.

Betty began telling classmates that she fantasized about suicide, and dreamed that “heaven must be a nice place.” Classmates were used to Betty’s dramatics, and simply brushed her off. She let at least five different people know she wanted to die, and even beseeched some of them to kill her. They laughed it off.

The dramatics, however, were becoming reality. Betty was childish and depressed and needed help. Rather than help her, peers dismissed her as a morbid weirdo.

On the day of her death, Betty slipped away from friends into Mack’s car. She told her pals that she was shocked that Mack actually showed up, and that she had to call his bluff. They had no idea what she meant at the time, but they would shortly.

When Betty went missing and police came knocking, Mack’s alibi fell apart. He eventually took cops to a remote hunting location, and led them down a path of twin footsteps to a water tank. There in the tank lay Betty’s frail body, floating in pink pajamas with a nearly decapitated head from the impact of the shotgun.

Police ordered Mack to fish out her body. He stripped down to shorts and went to retrieve her mangled corpse. Observers record that Mack had little to no reaction as he did so. The teen boy was emotionless as he picked up his bloodied victim and presented her to authorities.

An unbothered Mack (right) leads police to his dead ex-girlfriend’s body

Mack claimed Betty had told him she was happy to die, and kept talking about what heaven would be like. Before killing her, Mack allowed Betty to retrieve her coat because she was shivering. Betty asked Mack for “a kiss to remember you by,” and then thanked him. He held the shotgun to her forehead, and pulled the trigger.

Even after all this, the people of Odessa, Texas took Mack’s side. They assumed Betty had a whorish character, and that Mack had killed her for a reason. Mack was more popular than Betty, and frustratingly, the world had taken his side.

Mack was tried in a sensational trial, and was acquitted of homicide due to reasons of alleged temporary insanity. A juror was heard saying about Betty, “that girl was nothing.Nobody wanted anything to do with her. Mack was considered to be more of a victim than the girl he had killed. He went on to live a full life, and died at the ripe age of 75.

Mack having an OJ moment as he was acquitted of murder

As for Betty: she had played a dangerous game with a boy more heartless than she had known. This was Russian roulette, but Mack, rather than fate, had pulled the trigger. Betty had hoped to bait some sort of love out from her uninterested ex, and he had responded by blasting her head nearly clean off.

The young, naive girl who had played Juliet madly in love with Romeo for a school play had thought that dying for one’s lover was the ultimate act of pathos and devotion. Her ex-lover and society disagreed.

Students of Odessa high school believe the auditorium is haunted by Betty’s ghost, and joke about it when they hear strange noises or footsteps. Her spirit seems to roam, searching for the elusive justice it was never granted.