5 Inexplicable Things That Keep Happening To Dead Bodies
If you haven't died before, you may want to put off doing it for as long as possible. Not that getting to meet Death and challenge him to a Fornite match for your eternal soul won't be fun, but there are more reasons than ever to stay alive these days. No, not for quality of life -- the world is a toilet being uppercutted into a different toilet -- but because the stuff that keeps happening to corpses is ... unfortunate. And not just a couple of corpses. Like, a lot of corpses. There's a reason zombies hate us.
Bodies Can Be Left Lying Around For An Insanely Long Time
If you're like me, you've planned to be buried standing upright under an HD camera linked to a display on your tombstone which, when activated, will allow mourners to look at you looking back up at them and pointing in an accusatory manner as you decompose. But there's no guarantee that'll work out, because sumbitches are leaving bodies lying about like the goddamn things were socks.
It's not unheard of for a funeral home to leave a corpse sitting on a table like it was a pizza crust that you promise you'll absolutely toss in the garbage the next time you walk past, if only you remember to. Except you don't. A Florida home had six bodies soaking up that Florida heat, with ten more in a room-temperature cooler. They had all been scheduled for cremation, but instead the owners opted to neither cremate nor even embalm them, and just left them around for the flies. The same basic thing happened in Michigan, Philadelphia, and New York.
What motivates a funeral home to not even bother cremating a body? Trying to save money in the fire budget? That shit's generally pretty cheap, isn't it? Stuff is catching on fire all the time for free. Still, there's a funeral home in South Carolina that left a body for three years in an unrefrigerated room after telling the family it had been cremated. The body was covered with a sheet and surrounded by things to mask the smell. An alternative idea would have been to cremate the body three years in the past if the smell of a three-year-old body is a thing you don't enjoy, but what do I know? I'm an English major, not a corpsologist.
At least hospitals are a place you can trust will care for your loved ones, even if the unthinkable happens, right? Ha ha, of course not! Here's a story about a hospital that left a dead person sitting in bed for seven hours. And not just "pushed in a corner" dead; he was "sitting up in bed, face uncovered and scaring the neighbors" dead. This was while other patients and their families went about their business in the same ward. So yeah, the comparison with dirty socks is even more apt than I thought. You're just going to toss them in the corner and only do something about them when someone starts yelling about it.
Funeral Homes Don't Always Know Whose Body They Have
Honestly, who can tell one corpse from another? They're all practically the same, and none of them are talking. So maybe it's not surprising that the New York medical examiner's office cremated the wrong person and then covered it up, because to err is human, and to reduce the wrong human to ash is a potential litigation. On a different occasion, they cremated the wrong guy because they had two bodies with the same last name, and that's good enough for New York. They even sent someone off for dissection at a university by accident. It's like a bulk food store with big bins of dead folk, and you just reach in and take whatever, because who cares?
Not to be outdone, a funeral home in Nova Scotia lost its license after going full derp with not one but two burials. The first was another mistaken cremation, and the second was a mistaken embalming of someone who, for religious reasons, definitely did not want all their blood replaced with chemicals. It's like they just spun a wheel and then did whatever to whoever without actually consulting the paperwork.
The shit really hits the fan in cases like one in Tennessee, in which the family of a man who died from complications related to diabetes looked in the casket and saw an unrelated man with two legs, when their loved one had none. You'd think keeping track of the legless body would be easier. In movies they use toe tags, so maybe that was the problem?
Sometimes Funeral Homes Just Lose A Body Entirely
An Australian woman who succumbed to cancer in 2018 had prepared for her passing by donating her body to science. Except sometime between dying and science, the hospital misplaced her remains. Three weeks' worth of misplacement, in fact. They had run out of room in their morgue, so they transferred the body to a funeral home, and then, like that one orange at the back of the refrigerator drawer, everyone forgot about it. Her body could no longer be used, since there is a time limit on these things, and presumably the hospital offered the family a coupon for a free oil change or some such.
One funeral home, upon realizing they couldn't find the right body, tried to fix the problem by parading out three different bodies in the hopes one would be a winner. None were, and it turned out the right body was put in the wrong grave. At least they tried, though, unlike the funeral home in Tennessee that lost the body of a baby and did, you know, nothing. That's the end of the story. They got fined $1,000 for it, though, if you're wondering what the going rate for a lost human body is these days. And yes, babies do tend to get lost in some terrible ways, like the one that got tossed out with the linen at a hospital. Go ahead and click that link if you want to make your life worse for a while.
If you're looking for the absolute most atrocious tale of lost bodies, though, you'll have to choose between two stories so insane that they'll make you want to die in an explosion so no one has to worry about your remains at all.
The first is the story of Julie Mott, who died at age 25 from cystic fibrosis. One day after her funeral, her body went missing, and it was never found. The funeral home had subcontracted embalming and transportation to a third party that had access to the building after hours, but they never found out what happened to the body. Her parents won $8 million in a lawsuit, so there's that, at least.
Across the pond in Scotland, Lydia Reid lost her infant son back in 1975. He died at seven days old, and Reid says that when she asked to see him, the hospital showed her a different child. They told her she was suffering post-natal depression when she complained. She spent years trying to get anyone to listen, insisting the hospital had been using the body parts of dead children for research purposes, something the hospital admitted to, in general, years later. Finally, in 2017, Reid was able to exhume the body of her son to determine what had been done to him. And instead of answers, authorities discovered clothes that had no human remains in them. There had never been a baby buried in the casket. For over 40 years, Reid had been lied to, and her child's fate will likely never be known. What a bunch of assholes.
There's Way Too Much Creepy Body Abuse
More than once in my comedy career, I've taken on the challenge of addressing something heinous and utterly reprehensible while still trying to keep it light and entertaining, as is my duty. So with that in mind, lemme tell you a joke. Why did the chicken cross the road? To get the fuck away from the nurse who got caught having sex with a corpse.
As if all the other ways you could desecrate a body weren't bad enough, the number of people who abuse bodies for their own kicks is weirdly higher than it should be. As in, it should be none, and yet there's something. That nurse, who was caught by the husband of the deceased in the act, is just the tip of the necro-creep iceberg. A worker at a Toledo funeral home was convicted of sexually abusing a corpse after he was deemed to have treated the body in a way that would "outrage reasonable community sensibilities." You don't want to know what that means explicitly, and may be more outraged to learn it's only worth a year in jail.
A morgue worker, also in Ohio, admitted in 2014 to having sex with over 100 corpses between 1976 and 1992, because every garbage fire has to have a fuel source, and it's apparently this man's soul. The worker would get drunk or high and abuse the bodies, and other staff even knew about it. It only came to light when one of his victims, who had been murdered, was examined and the worker's DNA was recovered. Since the actual murderer hadn't raped her, police needed to track down who did. The rest is skin-crawlingly gross history.
Over in Russia, morgue workers take their bone-chilling atrocities into the big time, like the worker who decided to befoul a reality TV star who had been murdered. Her body had been exhumed after police were unable to find her killer, and instead they discovered forensic evidence from a morgue worker whose only punishment for necrophilia was being asked to resign, since it's apparently not any more illegal there than meddling in another country's election.
Cheapskates And Thieves Will Try To Make A Buck Off Your Corpse
There are a lot of victimless crimes a person can commit, like pooping on your neighbor's lawn or pirating a movie you ended up not liking. Maybe it's from some misplaced sense of cosmic justice that people think it's OK to commit certain acts if no one really suffers for it that they can see at the time. Which is why, every so often, someone tries to pull a fast one on a corpse. It's not like a dead guy's complaining if you steal his gold fillings, right? Incidentally, that happens. People steal gold fillings from the dead. And that may be the least of your posthumous concerns.
For example, cemetery owner Jemar Lambert allegedly figured he could save money by burying a bunch of people in the same plot of land, stacking them on top of each other like a decomposing Connect Four. Lambert's cemetery was running short on space, so when he wasn't putting together bodies like short stacks of pancakes, he was apparently just cramming them in wherever he could find a few square feet of space, whether he owned the land or not. That ended up getting him ten years of probation.
Workers at Illinois' historical Burr Oak Cemetery tried a similar cost-cutting method when they simply dug people up, tossed out the tombstones, and sold the spaces all over again. They ended up being convicted of desecrating bodies, because most people in society aren't on board with treating human remains the same way you'd treat tree stumps.
While people stacking bodies or reusing plots of land could be considered lazy descrators, there are more proactive ghouls in the world as well. A human body is a gold mine to the right person, and you're just going to throw it away like expired deli ham? Not funeral home owner Michael Francis Brown. He realized medical research was a booming industry that had a serious supply and demand issue. How do the doctors and scientists of tomorrow learn what your brain looks like if there aren't enough brains to go around? He stepped in to fix that issue by chopping up the bodies that he was supposed to be burying, and selling them literally piece by piece for scientific research, without actually obtaining consent to do so.
Now, how does a guy like Brown get the idea to sell off body parts like they were tamales at a ballgame, which may or may not be a thing that happens outside of TV shows I saw in the '80s? He could have been inspired by the LA coroner's office, which was caught selling the corneas of literally thousands of bodies to an eye bank without obtaining consent from families.
Canadian morticians, who you'd think would be all "So sorry for your loss, allow us to bathe the dearly departed in maple poutine," may be even worse, if these shenanigans from Calgary are any indication. These shifty bastards sold expensive caskets to families, and then swapped them for cheap ones for cremation so they could resell the expensive ones. The husband and wife duo were charged together, and the husband copped a plea to fraud to drop all the other charges, which included cutting the finger off of a body so they could steal a ring. That's some low-class shit right there.
So I say again: When it comes time to die, just arrange an explosion. It will save everyone a lot of trouble, and the kids will love it.
Uh, were y'all aware you can just buy toe tags for bodies? Yikes.
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For more, check out 5 Horrific Things You See Collecting Dead People As A Job and 5 Horrifying Truths About Funeral Homes (From An Undertaker).
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