Undying Love

Georg Karl Tänzler was a German-born doctor who immigrated to the U.S. in 1926. During his youth, he claimed to have received visitations from a dead ancestor, who revealed to him a vision of his one true love: exotic, dark- haired, beautiful. In 1930, while practicing at a Florida hospital under the name of Carl von Cosel, Tänzler met a young Cuban-American woman named Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos who required treatment for tuberculosis. Despite already having a wife, Tänzler immediately recognized Hoyos as his promised soulmate and did everything he could to save her, but Elena ultimately died in October, 1931. Devastated, Tänzler built a lavish mausoleum in her honor and visited it almost every night. In 1933, he went several insane steps further by secretly removing her remains. He restored her “skin” with wax and plaster of Paris, gave her glass eyes, wired her bones together with coat hangers, and stuffed rags into her chest cavity to maintain its shape.  He gave her some finishing touches–stockings, jewelry, gloves, a paper tube to enable intercourse– and kept her in his bed for the next seven years, until Elena’s sister caught wind of Tänzler’s activity and had him arrested. The case was widely publicized at the time and Elena’s reconstructed body was put on public display before being re-interred in a secret location. Tänzler was ultimately acquitted when the statute of limitations ran out. Deprived of the body, Tänzler used a death mask to fashion a life-sized effigy of Hoyos and lived with it until his own death on July 3, 1952.