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.
5. The 6-Year-Old Who Survived
The idea of being buried alive is scary enough, but it becomes inconceivably horrific when a child is the victim of such a catastrophe. In August 2014, that is exactly what happened to a six-year-old girl in Uttar Pradesh, India. According to the girl’s uncle, Alok Awasthi, a married couple that lived close to the victim told the girl that her mother wanted them to accompany her to a fair a few villages over. It wasn’t until they reached an expansive sugar cane field that they proceeded to strangle the girl and bury her for an unknown reason.
Luckily, some of the villagers working in the field saw them enter and became suspicious when they exited without the child. They went to the spot and found her unconscious and not breathing in a shallow grave just inside the field. They were able to rush her to the hospital in the nick of time, and when she regained consciousness she was able to identify her kidnappers. The girl did not remember being buried alive. Police do not know why the neighbors planned to kill the girl, and the hunt is still on for the two suspects. As horrifying as the case is, luckily it did not end with a tragic death.
4. Buried Alive Voluntarily
For as long as humans have been alive, there have been cases of those trying to defy fate. There are now tutorials on what to do if you find yourself six feet under with no means of escape, and people have gone so far as to be voluntarily buried alive to try and escape death. In 2011, a 35-year-old Russian man did just that, only to succumb to a tragic death. For whatever reason, the man in question believed that burying himself alive for 24 hours would make him lucky for the rest of his life. With some help from a friend, he dug a grave outside of the city of Blagoveshchensk and inserted a makeshift coffin complete with air piping, a single bottle of water, and a cell phone.
Once the man got inside the casket, his friend covered him with nearly a foot of dirt and left. The man called his friend just once to say he was fine, but when the friend returned to relieve him in the morning, he was dead. It seems that an overnight rain might have blocked the air pipes and left the man to suffocate in his own casket. While this story is tragic, the more disturbing thing is that being buried alive was a popular Internet trend in Russia at the time, so who knows how many more suffered the same horrific fate.
3. Lawrence Cawthorn
One fearful story of premature burial comes from a pamphlet entitled “The Most Lamentable and Deplorable Accident,” which is more of a legend than anything else. It is the story of a London butcher named Lawrence Cawthorn who fell fatally ill in 1661. Lawrence’s landlady was eager for his swift death so that she could inherit his belongings. She saw to it that he was quickly pronounced dead without a doctor’s consultation and buried at a nearby chapel.
Not long after his entombment, visitors and mourners heard screams and shrieks coming from the grave. They rushed to dig up Cawthorn’s coffin, but it was too late. Cawthorne’s shroud was completely shredded. His eyes were swollen and his head was bloodied beyond recognition from where he’d beaten it against the coffin in an attempt to escape. His landlady was then accused of prematurely putting Cawthorn in his grave, and the story became a thing of myth and legend for hundreds of years.
2. Sipho William Mdletshe
In 1993, a 24-year-old South African man named Sipho William Mdletshe and his fiance were involved in a severe car accident. Although Sipho’s fiance survived, Sipho was so badly injured that he was declared dead by responders following the accident. Sipho’s body was taken to the Johannesburg mortuary and placed in a metal box for burial. But Sipho was never actually dead—he had just become unconscious in the wake of the crash. For two days and nights he remained in the box until he awoke in a confused daze and began to scream for help.
Luckily, some of the workers at the morgue were around to let him out of the box, and he survived the whole ordeal. The unfortunate part of the story came when Sipho tried to return home to his fiance, only to be sent away because she thought he was a zombie. As if being buried alive wasn’t horrific enough.
1. Stephen Small
In 1987, an Illinois publishing and media heir named Stephen Small was kidnapped and buried alive in a makeshift wooden box near the town of Kankakee. His assailants, a 30-year-old man named Danny Edwards and his 26-year-old girlfriend, Nancy Rish, crafted a plan to abduct him and keep him immobile underground while asking for a $1 million ransom from his surviving family members. His kidnappers were able to provide the 39-year-old Mr. Small with minimal air, water, and light inside his homemade coffin via tubes, but he was left buried 1 meter (3 ft) under a sandy area. He ended up suffocating after his breathing tube failed.
Police were only able to find Mr. Small by locating his maroon Mercedes near the burial site. Since Edwards and Rish were convicted, there has been some debate with the testimonies over whether or not the two intended for Mr. Small to die in his coffin. Either way, it was a horrific crime with tragic consequences, and Edwards and Rish will most likely remain behind bars for another 27 years.
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