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Dance of Death

Updated on November 28, 2015

You may call me Count Carl Tanzler von Cosel. I was born in Dresden, Germany and I moved to Zephyrhills, Florida where the wild winds blow. That was back in 1927, when I already dwelled for half a century on this earth, seeking love, finding none. Oh yes, I had a wife and two daughters...But where were you?

Since my childhood, I was frequently visited by visions of my dead ancestor, Countess Anna Constantia von Cosel. I danced with her and she revealed to me the face of my true love: it was her face; it was the face of this exotic and dark-haired woman I found at last in the US Marine Hospital in Key West, where I worked as a radiologist...

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April 22, 1930. I danced with the dead on a daily basis; all my patients succumbed to this deadly disease known as tuberculosis, and there were you... Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos, only 21 years old, also known as Helen of Cuba... or Troy, in that other world and that other life of ours.

You were brought to my hospital for an examination by your mother and I danced with you. I said I would cure you thanks to my knowledge of new and advanced untested medical techniques, from herbal medicines to X-ray treatments. I showered you with the gifts of my love and it was all right you didn't ever return my affections in any way.

It was all right. I was sure you would love me once I had you cured of your fatal disease. And then you died while I danced with you.

I didn't want the water of the cold, cold grounds contaminate your body, and so - with the permission of your family - I built an above-ground mausoleum for your corpse. And there I danced with you. And there I tirelessly attempted to keep your body in a state of stasis. And there I preserved you with formaldehyde, while I talked to you, all night long, every night, for the next two years, sitting by your bed with your hands in mine, whispering in your ears, caressing your lips.

I had a telephone installed in your tomb, so I could speak to you when I couldn't be with you in person. And your ghost visited me and I danced with you and you asked me to remove your body from its grave and that was exactly what I did in 1933, releasing you from your tomb, bringing you home, back home, bringing you all back home again.

I worked furiously day and night to fight the decay of your flesh, applying bottle after bottle of perfume, using oceans of preservatives to stem the tide of decomposition, stringing the bones of your skeleton together with piano wire. I played the organ for you and we danced and I  replaced your putrefied eyes with glass replicas and your skin with silk soaked with wax and plaster. 

You became a mixture of nature and my own creation, frozen in time. I danced with you and they said after each dance you became less the corpse of a lost loved one and more like a morbid and disturbing doll, a sad caricature of the living Helen of Troy. And I filled your stomach and chest with rags to help you retain your shape. And when your hair fell out, I used it to craft a wig.

Your sister accused me of maliciously destroying your grave and removing your body without authorization, but I was never punished and most people called me just an eccentric romantic,  just a desperate lover who wanted to save his last dance for you.

Your body was examined by physicians and pathologists, displayed to the public and then buried again in a secret location... where it still remains.



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    • IamMaster profile image


      7 years ago from USA

      What a grotesque tale of love you have there! Great job, extremely interesting article...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Magnoliazz, please be more knowledgeable before posting something like that. Please read the book by Swicegood or Harrison. Von Cosel made a sacred promise to Elena that he will take care of her body if she died. She was terrified of being buried in the ground. He truly cared for her, unlike others who neglected her.

      The post that you wrote was really offensive. Comparing him to Gein? WTF??? Why didn't you compare Gandhi to Hitler, huh?

    • magnoliazz profile image


      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Excellent hub!

      Creepy, this guy reminds me of Ed Gein, the guy Psycho is based on. Ed was german too, his people came from Prussia and ended up in Plainfield, WI.

      When his motehr died, he dug her up and brought her home. He did'nt stop there, he dug up other women too! He made all kinds of bizarre things with their skin and bones.

      If that was not enough, he killed two women, cut their heads off and gutted them like you would a deer,( They found one of the women hanging upsidedown, head removed and gutted, the same you would butcher an animal.)

      You owe it do yourself to google Ed. I think he was even worse than the guy in this hub!

    • saddlerider1 profile image


      8 years ago

      What a bizarre story. It's amazing what heights people will go to and preserve a loved one as in this spooky case.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I find your writing of mystery and bizarre stories exciting and well written.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      A truly "fantastic" story. Extremely bizarre.

      Thanks for this inetersting Hub, which certainly held my attention!

      Love and peace


    • profile image


      9 years ago

      how strange and bizarre

    • profile image

      Neva Flores 

      9 years ago

      I have viewed this a few times on the History Channel, so much more information provided here. An incredible article

    • profile image


      9 years ago really shook me with this one. Its amazing I have never heard this story before. This was very disturbing. This man was so "gone" mentally and yet I am sure in his mind he probably thought his actions were the most important up to that point in his life. Very weird about him having dreamed of her before he ever met her....but incredibly sick how he could have taken the obsession to such a macabre level. To actually become a modern day "norman bates" by stealing her corpse and continue preserving her body over and over the years and to even put a tube in her body for him to perform his own sexual acts shows he was very sick indeed. This was completely creepy in every sense of the word....good hub!

    • maven101 profile image


      9 years ago from Northern Arizona



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