Doctor, Necrophiliac. Born Karl Tanzler in Dresden, Germany abandoned his family in 1927 to move to Key West, where he changed his name to Count Carl Von Cosel. He claimed to have 19 different degrees, none were substantiated. Von Cosel worked for years in a hospital full of sick and dying tuberculosis patients (which was then incurable). In 1933 one of his patients was 22-year-old Elena Hoyos whom he fell in love with and did everything he could trying to save her. Not long after her funeral he got permission from her family to place Elena’s body in a casket full of formaldehyde. His daily visits to her crypt made people take notice, then one day he stopped coming by. That was until he turned up in another part of town buying a small house near the sea. Keeping to himself and only being seen carrying large packages and heard singing and playing his organ late into the night. Elena’s sister grew suspicious and sought out Von Cosel when the cemetery reported that her casket was missing. Confronting the doctor at his house she demanded to know what happened to her sister and Von Cosel showed her, THE BODY WAS UPSTAIRS IN HIS BED. He was arrested and released since the statute of limitations on molesting a grave was only 2-years (it had been 7-yrs). In 1972 it was made public that Von Cosel had stolen Elena’s body and taken it home where he treated it with oil and wax and attempted to rebuild her body as it decomposed, even giving her glass eyes and making her a wig out of her hair. He made a puppet-like death mask of Elena to preserve her beauty and was put on display in a local museum when the case became local folklore. It was stolen some time later and turned up in 1952 on the floor of Von Cosel’s home lying next to his dead body. Elena’s body was buried and encased in cement in an undisclosed, unmarked grave in the Key West Cemetery where Von Cosel couldn’t find her again. Von Cosel is buried in Zephyr Hills, Florida.
I’ve included a photo of Von Cosel along with before and after photos of Elena seen below. Nothing remains of Elena’s original grave in Key West but you can find this historical replica at the West Martello Tower Museum for a FEE $5-$7 on the northeast part of Key West beside the airport. Creepy isn’t it!