The first time I was really introduced to the terrifying concept of premature burial was in eighth grade English class when we read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado”. As I sat in class poring over my book the idea buried itself deep into my psyche. Of course, as my knowledge of Poe works grew, my fear of being buried alive became even greater.
And that is why I wish to be cremated, because if I’m still alive, at least it will be faster than suffocation. Here are several stories of people who were unfortunate enough to have been buried alive.
Screams of the Undead
In 2014, a 45-year-old woman was pronounced dead in Greece. She had reportedly died of cancer and a funeral was held with all of her family and friends. Several hours later some cemetery visitors heard something no one ever wants to hear in a cemetery…screaming.
After hearing the sound coming from inside one of the graves a group of citizens frantically began digging up the grave themselves. Sadly, once they got to the coffin and broke the seal the woman was dead for real this time. Though Greek media said the woman had suffocated to death inside her crypt, a doctor claimed she had already been dead and could not be revived.
Being wealthy back in the day meant you were often buried with your other dead relatives in nifty PHANTASM-like vaults. When Madam Blunden died, she was buried in one underneath the Holy Ghost Chapel in Basingstoke, England. The vault itself was right below a boys’ school and the day after the funeral some boys reported they had been hearing noises coming from the vault.
A sexton came to investigate and as they opened the coffin Madam Blunden breathed her final breath. They attempted to resuscitate her but to no avail. What’s truly terrifying is that in the day she was trapped, she had torn viciously at her face and bitten all of her nails from her fingers.
Blind Date Gone Horribly Wrong
Most of us have had their fair share of bad dates but most of them probably didn’t end in being buried alive. Mina El Houari met a man online and developed a relationship with him over several months before deciding to fly to his home in Morocco to meet him. For all intents and purposes, the date went really well and they hit it off. But at some point later in the evening, El Houari collapsed on the floor of her date’s home and didn’t wake up.
Fearing he would be accused of murdering a foreign visitor, her date decided it would be best to just bury her in his garden. Several days later, El Houari’s family filed a missing person report and flew out to search for their daughter. It didn’t take long to find her online mystery man and find out what happened after he broke down and confessed. As it turned out, Mina El Houari was an undiagnosed diabetic and fell into a diabetic coma. She died of suffocation from being buried alive in the garden and her suitor was charged with manslaughter.
A Wedding and a Funeral
A woman known only as Miss Hockwalt was getting ready for her brother’s wedding the morning of January 10th. She had gotten dressed and went to the kitchen for something, but when she did not return family members went to find her. She was found upright in a chair, head leaning against the wall, and seemingly lifeless. After being examined by a doctor, she was declared dead and because Mass was already being done for the wedding, they continued on with a burial as well. But something didn’t sit right with several people who knew Miss Hockwalt. She had a nervous condition before her death and because some felt her eye color looked too alive and natural to be dead, the family decided to investigate.
Poor Miss Hockwalt was found in her coffin on her side. She had torn out clumps of hair and bitten chunks of flesh from her fingers. The family hurriedly reinterred the body and tried to cover up what had happened but there were too many witnesses to hide it.
Mary Norah Best
Mary was seventeen when she was reported to have died from cholera and buried within her adopted family’s tomb. However, the doctor who reported her dead stood to benefit from her death after trying to kill her adoptive mother twice before. Her mother had fled to England after the second time and left Mary with her would-be murderer.
She was pronounced dead and put in a coffin with the lid nailed shut where she would remain for ten years. In 1881 the vault was opened to inter the body of her adopted uncle. Upon opening the vault they found Mary’s coffin lid lying on the floor with the skeletal remains of Mary half out of the coffin. The popular theory is that after struggling for some time she managed to break the lid from the coffin but in doing so fell and hit her head on a shelf nearby, killing her.
Always get a second opinion and embalmed.