Throughout history, there have been shocking and gruesome grave robberies that have left a lasting impact on society. This article will delve into the dark and macabre world of grave robbers as we explore the ten most gruesome grave robberies in history. From ancient tombs to modern-day heists, these incidents reveal the depths some individuals are willing to sink for personal gain or twisted motivations. Please note that the following accounts contain graphic details that may disturb some readers.
The Tomb of Tutankhamun, Egypt
The discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922 by Howard Carter is one of the most famous archaeological finds. However, before Carter’s arrival, the tomb had already been subjected to a gruesome act of grave robbery. The thieves had desecrated the tomb, stolen precious artifacts, and even severed the pharaoh’s hands from his body.
The Theft of Charlie Chaplin’s Body, Switzerland
In 1978, Charlie Chaplin’s body was stolen from his grave in Switzerland. The perpetrators, seeking a ransom, demanded a large sum of money to return the body. The grave robbers were eventually apprehended, and Chaplin’s body was recovered.
The Robbery of Eva Perón’s Body, Argentina
After Eva Perón died in 1952, her body was embalmed and placed in a family crypt in Buenos Aires. In 1955, political turmoil led to the overthrow of the government, and a group of military officers stole her body. The body was hidden for nearly two decades before being recovered and returned to its resting place.
The Heist at the Westminster Abbey, England
In 1303, a daring group of thieves attempted to rob the tomb of Edward I at Westminster Abbey. They broke into the tomb and were in the process of looting when they were caught red-handed. The thieves were subsequently executed for their crime.
The Body Snatching Epidemic, Scotland
During the 18th and 19th centuries, body snatching surged in Scotland. Medical schools were in need of cadavers for anatomical study, leading to a lucrative market for stolen bodies. The practice became so prevalent that mort safes and watchtowers were erected in cemeteries to deter grave robbers.
The Theft of Abraham Lincoln’s Body, United States
In 1876, a criminal gang attempted to steal the body of President Abraham Lincoln from his tomb in Springfield, Illinois. Their plan was thwarted, and the body was ultimately placed in a reinforced steel cage to prevent further theft attempts.
The Desecration of Jesse James’ Grave, United States
The infamous outlaw Jesse James was buried in Kearney, Missouri after he died in 1882. In 1995, his grave was desecrated when a group of individuals dug up his remains in search of his treasure. The remains were recovered, and security measures were implemented to protect the grave.
The Robbery of the Royal Tombs, Brazil
In 1966, thieves raided the Royal Tombs at the Cathedral of São Pedro de Alcântara in Petrópolis, Brazil. The thieves stole jewelry, gold, and other valuable artifacts from the tombs of Brazilian royalty. The heist remains one of South American history’s most audacious grave robberies.
The Looting of the Ming Tombs, China
The Ming Tombs, a vast complex of mausoleums near Beijing, China, were targeted by grave robbers in the early 20th century. These thieves plundered the tombs of Ming Dynasty emperors, taking with them priceless artifacts and treasures.
The Theft of the Crown Jewels, Sweden
In 2018, two crowns and an orb, part of the Swedish Crown Jewels, were stolen from a cathedral in Strängnäs, Sweden. The thieves escaped in a speedboat but were later apprehended. The stolen regalia was recovered, bringing an end to the audacious heist.
The ten gruesome grave robberies highlighted in this article serve as chilling reminders of the lengths individuals have gone to desecrate resting places and steal valuable artifacts or remains. Whether driven by financial gain, curiosity, or the allure of rare treasures, these grave robbers left a trail of destruction and traumatized the families and communities affected.
Thankfully, many of these crimes were solved, and stolen items were returned to their rightful places. These incidents stand as cautionary tales, emphasizing the importance of preserving and protecting burial sites, cultural heritage, and the deceased’s dignity.