Carl Tanzler: The Morbid Story Of A Man And His Unnatural Relationship With A Corpse

Love, an intense feeling of deep affection, fills the void in our lives. The strong emotion differs from person to person and people often take extreme measures to keep the bundle of happiness, all for themselves. Carl Tanzler is one such person who took his obsession with a woman to the extreme. While working at a hospital, he fell in love with a patient. Soon after her tragic death, his obsession with her made him dig up her body and live with it for seven years. Here’s the story of man named Carl Tanzler and his unusual relationship with a corpse.




In 1926, Carl Tanzler began working at Key West hospital in Florida.

Florida Keys--Public Libraries, Carl Tanzler
Image source: Florida Keys–Public Libraries/flickr

Carl Tanzler was a man of many talents. The German born radiologist claimed to have nine university degrees and to be a former submarine captain, as well as an accomplished inventor. The truth was far from his claims though, as he was an unconventional and slightly strange man, who left his wife and children to pursue his dream and work in the United States Marine Hospital.

After taking the job at the United States Marine Hospital in Key West, Florida, Carl kept a low profile.

Carl Tanzler, Florida
Image source: Wikimedia

In 1927, Carl took the job at Key West hospital in Florida.There, he maintained a low profile and often kept to himself. Everything changed though, when Carl met 21-year-old Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos. For years, Carl had visions of meeting a dark haired woman, whose beauty and elegance would finally make him happy. He was convinced that one day he would meet the woman in his dream and that woman turned out to be Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos.

The beautiful 21-year-old Cuban woman with dark hair visited Keys Hospital for an examination. Upon the first sight itself, Carl fell in love with her. He performed the examination on Maria and discovered that she was suffering from tuberculosis. At that time, tuberculosis was a fatal disease and doctors were only beginning to study it.




Maria was diagnosed with tuberculosis and Carl was determined to save her life.

Carl Tanzler & Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos
Image source: Florida Keys–Public Libraries/flickr

Carl couldn’t face the reality that he could lose his dream woman to a disease that had no cure. He decided to ignore the hospital’s protocol and set out in search of a miracle cure for Maria. He administered her homemade tonics and medicines that were untested and were believed to have had side effects. He also took X-ray machines and other equipment from the hospital to Maria’s house without authorization. Carl was obsessed with her beauty and never failed to show it. Whenever he visited Maria at her house to treat her, he showered her with gifts.

However, on October 25, 1931, Carl’s treatments failed to overcome the disease.

Elena’s Tomb
Image source: Florida Keys–Public Libraries/flickr

Even though Carl Tanzler did his best to save Maria’s life, his efforts did not prevail. Maria succumbed to the disease on October 25, 1931. Carl was upset that he couldn’t save her and decided to bury her in a stone mausoleum. Maria’s family approved him to have her buried according to his wishes. Carl spent a considerable amount of his life savings to build an expensive stone mausoleum. He even went on to hire a mortician to clean and fix her body before the burial ceremony. However, the only key to the mausoleum was with Carl. Even though Maria’s family knew that fact, they either chose to ignore it or did not seen any harm in it.




Two years after Maria’s death, Carl was fired from the hospital for exhibiting odd behavior.

Maria Elena
Image source: Florida Keys–Public Libraries/flickr

Carl did not take the death of his dream woman lightly. He constantly talked about his obsession with her to his co-workers. The hospital soon learned that Carl was sneaking out at night and visiting the mausoleum. They soon fired him from his position.

After being fired, Carl stopped visiting Maria’s mausoleum. Maria’s family found it to be a bit odd, since he was so obsessed with her. Little did they know that Carl had other plans for her corpse.




Continue reading Carl Tanzler and Maria’s story on Page 2.

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