You might be familiar with our previous list of premature burials, but if you thought that was the end of it, you couldn’t be more wrong. Believe it or not, there are even more horrifying tales of premature burial as recent as this year that are just as terrifying as Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories. If being buried alive wasn’t your greatest fear before, it might be now.
10. Octavia Smith Hatcher
In the late 1800s, the city of Pikeville, Kentucky was shaken with an unknown disease, and the most tragic case of all was that of Octavia Smith Hatcher. After her infant son Jacob passed away in January 1891, Octavia went into a bedridden depression where she gradually became very ill and slipped into a coma. On May 2 of the same year, she was pronounced dead of unknown causes while still in her bed.
Embalming was not yet a practice, and Octavia was buried very quickly in the local cemetery due to the sweltering heat. Barely a week after her burial, many of the townspeople had been stricken with the same debilitating illness and fallen into a comatose state. The difference? After a time, the townspeople began to wake up. Octavia’s husband began to fear the worst and worried that he had prematurely buried his wife while she was still breathing. He procured an exhumation of her grave only to find that his worst fears were in fact true. The lining on the inside of the coffin had been scratched and torn to pieces. Octavia’s nails were bloodied and broken, and her face was contorted with horrific fear. She had died in the ground after being buried alive.
Octavia was reburied and her husband erected a lifelike monument over her grave site. The monument still stands today. It was later speculated that the mysterious illness had been caused by a Tsetse fly, an African insect that can cause a disease known as sleeping sickness.
9. Mina El Houari
Usually when you’re on a first date with someone, you think about how it will come to a close at the end. While you’re supposed to plan for the unexpected, nobody should ever have to plan to be buried alive after dessert. One such horrific story comes from May 2014. A 25-year-old French woman named Mina El Houari had been chatting with a suitor online for months before deciding to make a trip to Morocco to meet him for a real first date. She arrived at her hotel in Fez, Morocco on May 19 for her date with her dream man, but she never checked out.
Mina met the man and they shared a lovely evening until she collapsed onto the floor mid-date. Instead of calling the police or an ambulance, the man assumed Mina had died on the spot and made the hasty decision to bury her in a shallow grave in his garden. The problem was, Mina wasn’t actually dead. As it happens, she was an undiagnosed diabetic and was in a diabetic coma while he buried her alive. A few days passed before Mina’s family filed a missing persons report and flew to Morocco to try and find her. The Moroccan police were finally able to track down her murderer and raided his home. They found his muddy clothes and a used shovel before discovering the horrific scene in his backyard. The man confessed to his crime and was charged with manslaughter.
8. Mrs. Boger
In July 1893, a farmer named Charles Boger and his wife were living in Whitehaven, Pennsylvania when Mrs. Boger suddenly died of unknown causes. Doctors confirmed her death, and she was promptly buried. That should have been the end of the story, but sometime after her death, a friend told Charles that his wife had suffered from hysteria before Charles had met her, and it was possible that she hadn’t actually been dead. The very thought of Mrs. Boger having been buried alive haunted Charles until he became hysterical.
Unable to live with the thought of his wife dying in her casket, he employed friends to help him exhume her body for confirmation. What he found was shocking. Mrs. Boger’s body was turned over. Her shroud and robes were shredded to pieces and the glass of her coffin lid was broken all over her body. Her skin was bloodied and scratched, while her fingers were missing entirely. It was presumed that she chewed them off while attempting to escape. Nobody knows what happened to Charles Boger after the discovery.
7. Angelo Hays
Some of the most horrifying tales of premature burial are horrifying because the victim miraculously survived the ordeal. Such is the case of Angelo Hays. In 1937, Angelo was a free-spirited 19-year-old boy residing in St. Quentin de Chalais, France. One day, Angelo was riding his motorcycle around the village when he was suddenly thrown from his bike and tossed headfirst into a brick wall. Without hesitation, Angelo was declared dead by doctors and was promptly buried three days after his accident. In the nearby town of Bordeaux, an insurance company became suspicious after realizing that Angelo’s father had recently insured his son’s life for 200,000 francs, and an inspector was sent to investigate the claim.
The inspector had Angelo’s body exhumed just two days after he had been buried to confirm the cause of death, only to find a surprising answer. Angelo wasn’t actually dead! When the doctor removed the death shroud, he found Angelo’s body warm and his heart barely beating. He was immediately taken to a hospital, where he endured several operations and extensive rehabilitation before making a full recovery. As it happens, he had only been in a state of unconsciousness due to his severe head injury. Angelo went on to invent a security coffin with all the bells and whistles to ensure survival of a premature burial. He toured with his invention and became somewhat of a celebrity in France.
6. Mr. Cornish
John Snart published the Thesaurus of Horror in 1817. In it he recalls a gruesome tale of premature burial involving a man named Mr. Cornish. Cornish was a beloved mayor of Bath who died of an apparent fever some 80 years or so before Snart’s work was published. As was customary at the time, Cornish’s body was buried fairly quickly after he was pronounced dead. The gravedigger was halfway done with his work when he stopped for a quick drink with some visitors who where passing by. While they were having a chat, they heard the sound of stifled moans coming from the general direction of Mr. Cornish’s half-buried grave.
It dawned on them that he had in fact been buried alive, so they hurried to try and save him before he ran out of oxygen in his casket. But by the time they had removed the dirt and were able to open the coffin lid, it was too late—Mr. Cornish had suffocated in his own grave and left his knees and elbows bloodied and beaten. This story scared Cornish’s half sister so much that she told her relatives to behead her when she was thought to be dead so that she wouldn’t suffer the same fate.
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