A Midsummer Night's Dream - Act 1, Scene 2.
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Normally, when a person has an odd dream, it's put down to an
The Nightmare Begins
|Maria, sometimes known as Elena.|
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Despite everything, the Hoyos Family was still charmed by the man, even accepting his offer to pay for Maria's funeral and a lavish above ground tomb. Carl would then visit this tomb every night and everyone thought this was very sweet and romantic. At this point in our morbid tale, we can now add two more things to our list of Things Carl Tänzler Was Not; a skilled taxidermist and an experienced grave robber. Carl had become convinced that Maria's spirit had been visiting him and had been begging him to free her from her tomb. His nightly visits were actually an excuse to see her, both in spirit and in the flesh, thanks to the spare key he had to her final resting place. He'd had been sneaking into the tomb at night to preserve Maria's corpse. This went on for some time until one night he took Maria home with him. Using a child's toy wagon. Once in the privacy of his own home, he set to work on rebuilding Maria's mouldering corpse to the best of his abilities. Like a budget Frankenstein. Long absent eyes were replaced with glass replicas, her chest and abdomen were filled to bursting with rags to rebuild her body, a dark haired wig replaced her lost hair and wire helped hold the bones together, allowing her to be posed much like a doll. As her skin decayed, Tänzler replaced it with wax dipped silk and plaster. He bought and dressed her in the best clothes he could, and doused her in perfume, preservatives and disinfectant in an attempt to hide the stench. It must have been horrific to witness, but Carl Tänzler was in love and oblivious to the horror of it. People had seen him buying women's clothing and toiletries, initially they thought he'd found himself a new lady friend to dote on and were happy for him.
|Maria's tomb, for which Carl held the only key.|
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A Horrific Discovery
Soon macabre rumors began to circulate. A young boy living in the neighbourhood had witnessed Tänzler dancing with what looked like a life sized doll. Some people suspected it was just that; a large doll made by a broken hearted eccentric. Other people, however, jumped to the correct conclusion that it was Maria herself. These rumours spread fast, finally reaching the ears of Maria's sister, Florinda, in the October of 1940. Not wanting to believe what she'd heard, but wanting to know the truth before the rumours reached her parents, Florinda paid Carl a visit. She was welcomed into his home, but wasn't there for long before she discovered her sisters body, sitting in it's usual resting place. Carl's bed. Florinda did the most sensible thing anyone in that situation could do. She ran screaming from the house. The police were called immediately. Tänzler made no attempt to escape as he genuinely didn't believe he'd done anything wrong. While detained, he was examined by Psychiatrists who claimed he was mentally competent and able to stand trial, where he would be charged with "wantonly and maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorization." Despite being declared mentally competent, Carl was clearly anything but. He'd been living with Maria's crumbling body for seven years, keeping her together with DIY, like some budget Frankenstein's monster. His plan was to somehow take her up into earths stratosphere so that he could soak her with cosmic radiation. This, he believed, would bring her back from the dead. Ultimately the case was dropped because the statute of limitations for Carl's crimes had expired.
Carl's first act as a free man? To ask if he could have Maria's body back. Funnily enough, the answer was a resounding no.
|Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyo,|
after Tanzler's DIY taxidermy attempts.
And Carl? He moved to Pasco County, in the State of Florida. Despite his disturbing crimes, the public actually showed pity for him and some considered what he'd done to be romantic. Carl even wrote an autobiography, which was published in 1947, in a pulp magazine known as Fantastic Adventures. He died on the 3rd of July, 1952, at the age of 75. After his death it was discovered that he'd used a death mask he'd made of Maria to construct a second life sized doll of her. Official reports say that his body was discovered lying on the floor of his home, other less reliable reports claim he was discovered in his creations arms, after dying in his sleep. And this story didn't die with Carl, instead becoming one of the most well known tales of obsession and grave robbery in the world. There is even the conspiracy theory that the second doll Carl made was not a recreation at all, but Maria herself, either returned to him or stolen again.
And so ends The Strange Ways first ever morbid true crime post! I hope you enjoyed it. There was no way you'd ever find a normal Valentines Day blog here, although next year I may consider a spooky gift guide for the lovers of the macabre in your life. I've been wanting to write about Carl Tänzler for ages, and I was fascinated by the horror of his crimes and obsession, but hadn't been able to find a good time to do so. I've a fascination for bizarre true crime, so expect more in the future. In the mean time, if you have any comments then pop them into the comments section below, or tag me on Twitter.