Abuse of a corpse in not just against the law, it is crime against humanity. According to US statutes, corpse abuse constitutes anything that would outrage normal family and community sensibilities. The offense can range from mutilation to rape, storage to exploitation, and disinterment to dismemberment. Laws regarding corpse abuse vary from state to state. Strangely, in many places it is only a misdemeanor and is often added to more serious charges only for symbolic purpose. Warning: this list contains graphic descriptions of crimes.
See Also: 10 People Who Actually Lived With Human Corpses
10 Fraud And Dismemberment
An Ohio judge sentenced Linda Buckner to life for the murder and dismemberment of Patsy Hudson. Hudson, 62, went missing from her home in July 2015. In February, her remains were found scattered across Richland County. Buckner, 58, and her boyfriend Walter Renz were apprehended at a Tennessee campground. Investigators tracked them through purchases on Hudson’s stolen credit card.
Buckner was charged with aggravated murder, aggravated robbery, misusing a credit card, and abusing a corpse. Renz faces similar charges, but was found incompetent to stand trial. Renz led investigators to seven sites containing Hudson’s remains. Her torso was thrown off a bridge into the Shenandoah River. A search team recovered a pelvis, vertebrae, leg bones, upper arm, and cranium all belonging to one female. A cranial comparison revealed the skull belonged to Hudson. There were no signs of blunt force trauma. However, there were copious cut marks from her dismemberment.
9 Glamorous Gore
Joseph Comunale’s remains were discovered in a shallow grave on the Jersey shore. The autopsy revealed he had been stabbed in the chest fifteen times. Someone doused his corpse in gasoline in an attempt to burn it. Comunale, 26, had last been seen leaving a party in Manhattan’s Lower East Side with people he met there. Police arrested James Rackover, 25, and Lawrence Dillone, 28, for the murder and abuse of a corpse.
Rackover resided in the midtown apartment authorities believe Comunale was killed. Investigators discovered blood on Rackover’s apartment and clothing. There were traces of bleach on his garb. Both defendants were seen adjusting building security cameras. The motive remains unknown. Rackover is the surrogate son of jeweler-to-the-stars Jeffrey Rackover. They met at a health club three years ago. Jeffrey took the Florida ex-con under his wing, setting him up with an apartment, a job, and a new surname.
8 Saturn S-Series’ Spacious Trunk
In September, a Cleveland K-9 unit discovered the body of Marvin Kimmie in a 1994 Saturn S-series coupe. A foul odor seeped from the vehicle. In the trunk, investigators found Kimmie’s badly decomposed remains wrapped in a sheet. He was identified through fingerprints. The autopsy revealed that Kimmie, 43, had died from a gunshot to the head. A mother-and-son duo, Pearl Hately, 40, and Larry Camp-Hatley, 18, were charged with aggravated murder and offenses against a human corpse.
Kimmie and Pearl had been in a relationship and living together with Larry. The Saturn containing the corpse was discovered behind her house. Both accused have pled not guilty. Carlos Wallace, 21, and Theodore Hatley, 60, also were both charged with felony obstruction of justice for lying to police. Why the mother and son decided to shoot Kimmie remains a mystery. However, the gruesome manner of his disposal suggests extreme rage.
7 Unknown Accomplice
Anthony Barbour faces charges of murder and abuse of a corpse related to the death of 2-year-old Laynne Wallace. Laynne was last seen on May 17, 2015. Two days later, she was reported missing. A manhunt for Barbour began after police received an anonymous tip. An hour after Kentucky authorities took Barbour into custody, they discovered Laynne’s body at the bottom of a well.
Barbour admitted to disposing Laynne’s corpse. However, he insists that he is not responsible for her death. DNA evidence found on Laynne’s blue shirt does not belong to Barbour, and he is certain it will implicate someone else of the slaying. Barbour’s attorney argued that his client was only helping Laynne’s mother, Kelsey Wallace, dispose of the body. So far, no charges has been filed again Ms. Wallace. The defense believes a text message between Barbour and Kelsey could exonerate his client.
6 Schizophrenic Scrap
Tennessee prosecutors charged Michael Wilson Jr. with second-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. Wilson, 36, was jailed after a trash bag he was hauling to the scarpyard ripped open, revealing a human head. At the time, Wilson was in his backyard with Lacedric Ruffin. Ruffin revealed that Wilson pleaded with him to keep the corpse secret, insisting: “I didn’t mean to kill him”. On parole and fearful of his own freedom, Ruffin immediately reported the incident to authorities.
When police arrived at the Memphis residence, they discovered the rest of the festering body inside. They also found tools that had been used to dismember the corpse. Two severed hands and an arm were recovered from the bedroom. The victim was identified as Andre Cook, 48. Cook had moved in with Wilson days prior to the slaying. Neighbors revealed that Wilson is schizophrenic and stopped medication months ago.
5 Party Girl Dismemberment
Illinois prosecutors charged six people with abuse of a corpse for dismembering Ashley Gibson. No murder charges have been issued. Authorities believe the victim might have suffered a fatal overdose. Gibson was last seen at a party of April 17. According to investigators, the following day Davion Hendrick and five other suspects bathed and bleached Gibson’s body. They then dismembered the corpse and burned portions of her in a fire pit in Hendricks’ backyard.
According to prosecutors, Hendricks and another suspect drove her charred remains to Clinton Lake, where they disposed of them. A video taken the night of the party proves the six suspects were in attendance. The six are charged with dismemberment, but none of them have been charged with murder. Gibson’s death may have been the result of an overdose. Four of the suspects are in custody. Donte Meeks and Deundrea Weatherspoon are still at large.
4 Bipolar Brutality
In December 2014, police discovered the dismembered remains of an elderly couple in their Pennsylvania home. Blood splatter covered the residence. Investigators discovered trash bags filled with human oddments in the garage. The heads of Lamar Gilbert, 76, and his 73-year-old wife, Olivia, were found in the same trash bin. Police discovered Frederick Harris III locked in his mother’s bedroom. Cocooned under the covers, Harris, 49, was unresponsive and needed to be forcibly removed and hospitalized.
Prosecutors alleged that Harris stabbed his mother to death. He then ambushed his stepfather when he returned from a grocery run. Security cameras showed Harris methodically cleaning up evidence. He made trips to purchase new garage bags, bins, and sneakers. He also withdrew cash from his mother’s account. Investigators believe it took Harris nearly two days to dismember the deceased. Harris was a National Guard veteran, with a history of bipolar disorder and violence.
3 Ex-Con Corpse Abuser
Alabama authorities charged a mother and her ex-con son with murder and abuse of a corpse for the slaying and dismemberment of Kenneth Hood in 2014. Carolyn Hood, 79, was arrested along with her son William Minton, 57. According to investigators, Minton, struck Hood, 87, in the head with a dumbbell and dragged the corpse into the garage. The following day, Minton carved up the body with a recently purchased reciprocal saw and scattered the remains in a nearby creek.
The homicide started with an argument over money Kenneth Hood had leant to other members of his wife’s family. Minton had been living with Hood and his mother since March 2013, when he was released from prison. He had served a 20-year sentence for a 1997 child molestation and sodomy conviction. According to the DA, Carolyn, who is considered an invalid, was not truthful when initially asked about the murder.
2 Drug Deal Gone Wrong
An Iowa judge sentenced Jeremy Gartin to 87 years for the slaying and dismemberment of David Warnell. Gartin, 30, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter, carrying a concealed weapon, and abuse of a corpse. According to prosecutors, Gartin shot Warnell, 57, in the head during a drug transaction. He then mutilated the corpse. Teeth, fingertips, and tattoos were all removed. The body was wrapped in a sleeping bag and left to fester in Gartin’s basement.
Max Nelson, a witness for the prosecution, introduced his second cousin to Gartin to arrange a drug deal. An argument broke out when Warnell claimed he was shorted. Gartin returned with a gun and shot Warnell point blank in the head. Gartin forced Nelson to stab Warnell in the heart. Nelson and Gartin were high on meth when they disfigured Warnell’s remains. They also attempted to snap Warnell’s back so that he could be folded over.
1 Necrophilia Sex Tape
A Pennsylvania judge sentenced Gregory Graf for the murder of his stepdaughter. Graf, 54, was convicted of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse. On the final day of testimony, prosecution presented a video of Graf that made after the brutal slaying. The six-minute video shows Graf sexually abusing the lifeless corpse of Jessica Padgett, 33.
Without warning, Graf shot the mother of three in the back of head at his home in 2015. The judge added two-years to Graf’s sentence for abuse of a corpse. The gesture was largely a symbolic stance against this “crime against humanity”. The video Graf shot shows him performing sex acts on Padgett’s corpse hours after her death. Pagett’s husband, Michael Padgett, has filed a civil suit against Graf for wrongful death. When Graf was arrested he owned a fencing company and had a second home. The full extent of his estate is not known.
About The Author: Abraham Rinquist is the executive director of the Winooski, Vermont, branch of the Helen Hartness Flanders Folklore Society. He is the coauthor of Codex Exotica and Song-Catcher: The Adventures of Blackwater Jukebox.