5 Famous People Whose Corpses Got Desecrated In Crazy Ways
As a species, we're kind of particular about how we treat our dead. Sure, a corpse may be nothing more than decaying tissue, but it used to be a person, so we can get a little cross when, say, wolves eat what used to be our grandma. But powerful people have powerful enemies, and the dead have a hard time fighting back (barring some kind of zombie situation). That can lead to some messed up situations. Like how ...
Hugo Chavez "Spoke" To Simon Bolivar's Body
You might say that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had a thing for Simon Bolivar. When he heard that scientists suspected Bolivar died not from tuberculosis, as previously thought, but arsenic poisoning, Chavez immediately started making demands to exhume him. Never mind that the scientists believed the arsenic was taken willingly, because 19th-century medicine was terrifying; Chavez was determined to prove that Bolivar was assassinated.
And obviously, the whole event was televised. There were stirring, patriotic displays of images of Bolivar, images of his skeleton, and images of Chavez. It seems like it would have been cheaper to dress up in pantaloons and demand everyone start calling him General Bolivar, but Chavez didn't exactly have a suggestion box. Chavez live-tweeted the whole thing too, gushing, "My God, my God, I confess we have cried, we have sworn. This glorious skeleton must be Bolivar because you can feel his ardor." After praying to Jesus to raise Bolivar like Lazarus, he also reported that upon seeing the remains, Bolivar's "heart" spoke to him, acting as the otherworldly Bluetooth speaker for Bolivar's spirit. It confirmed to Chavez, "It is me, but I awaken every hundred years when the people awaken."
Well that just sounds like a threat.
People Keep Stealing Pope John Paul II's Blood
In 1981, Pope John Paul II was the target of an assassination attempt, during which he received several bullet wounds. Fragments of his bloody clothing were retrieved and preserved, because One Direction fans have nothing on Catholics. Since his death, these fragments, along with a vial of his blood, are the only three known samples of the pope's blood still in existence, and they've come to be regarded as religious relics, much like the Holy Grail or the holy foreskin. Obviously, at some point, all three have been stolen.
BRB, writing the script for the Vin Diesel blockbuster Pope Heist.
First, in 2012, the vial was stolen from the backpack of a traveling priest. It was eventually recovered in a thicket of grass, but nobody seemed especially concerned that some random priest was walking around Rome with pope blood in his backpack. Has he never read a backpacking advice guide? He probably didn't even loop it around his ankle while he was asleep on the train.
Then, in 2014, one of those bloody clothing pieces that was donated to an Italian church went missing. And in 2016, the other cloth, which had made its way to a famous German cathedral and was being displayed in a glass case beneath a statue of the pope, was pried out of its position by some unknown reluctant thief, casual vandal, or noncommittal Satanist.
Somebody Beat Up Eva Peron's Mummy
The death of Argentine political icon Eva Peron began ordinarily enough, with a battle she lost to uterine cancer in 1952. Tragic, but unexciting. But from there, her corpse starred in a more action-packed movie than any ever made about her life.
Artist Domingo Tellechea was having a drink in a bar when two men dressed all in black approached and informed him that he was to be driven to the office of Peron's doctor. Tellechea went along with this for some reason, and he was told that he would be tasked with preserving Peron's body for display in a national monument. Tellechea spent three years turning her body into a work of art, and that's when things got weird.
In 1955, a coup forced Juan Peron into exile before he could secure his late wife's body, so the new regime up and stole it. Fearing it would become a symbol of the resistance, the body was hidden in various places, including in a van parked behind a movie theater and somehow "inside the city's waterworks." A secure government facility simply didn't have enough flair for these guys.
Sacrificing security for style backfired, however, as candles and flowers kept mysteriously showing up wherever the body was left. So after a few years, Peron was buried in an Italian cemetery under a false name, until her body was eventually returned to Juan Peron in the '70s. He noted that the tip of one of her fingers was missing, and that the body bore marks that suggested it had been beaten by the anti-Peronists who stole it. And you thought punching a live woman was cowardly.
A Strand Of Che Guevara's Hair Was Sold In A Bizarre Auction
Cuban revolutionary (and star of T-shirts owned mostly by the kind of teenagers he'd hate) Ernesto "Che" Guevara met his end in 1967 at the hands of the Bolivian army, who'd captured him with the help of the CIA. From there, his body was solemnly and respectfully taken to ... the tiny laundry room of a Bolivian hospital, where his hands were cut off while his captors held a Weekend At Bernie's-style photo shoot with him. The hands are now kept in a secret room in Cuba's Palace of the Revolution, waiting to be stolen in some kind of Latin American remake of National Treasure.
One of Che's captors also cut off a lock of his hair and kept it in a scrapbook, which he would "pull out from time to time to relive the old days." Having had his fill of nostalgia for brutal executions, he put the hair up for auction in 2007, whereupon it was purchased for $100,000 by a Texas bookstore owner who intended to display it in his shop. The ghost of Che is almost certainly pleased by this triumph of capitalism, and definitely doesn't haunt that place.
Charlie Chaplin's Body Was Held For Ransom
Charlie Chaplin died as well as any of us can hope for: peacefully, in his sleep, on Christmas, in Switzerland, at the ripe age of 88, having apparently concluded (correctly) that life doesn't get much better.
The next year, on March 1, 1978, his body was stolen by two Polish mechanics, who we like to imagine dressed in comically exaggerated overalls, strategically grease-smeared, silently fumbling through the entire exhumation. A few days later, Oona O'Neill (Chaplin's former wife, not a series of inexplicable typos) began receiving phone calls from the kidnappers, who demanded $600,000 for the return of the body.
"I'm not sure you understand how kidnapping works."
Fortunately, this was before burner cells revolutionized the extortion game, and the Swiss police didn't have much else to do. After monitoring 200 public pay phones and waiting for the kidnappers to use one of them, they tracked them down, hopefully in a wacky, piano-scored chase scene. The body was found in the middle of a corn field near the cemetery and reburied -- this time in concrete, because the grandmother of Robb Stark's wife doesn't mess around.
Let's hope in the future, corpse desecration simply stays in our fictional TV shows.
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