Incidents of necrophilia

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Necrophilia is a pathological fascination with dead bodies, which often takes the form of a desire to engage with them in sexual activities, such as intercourse. Although prohibited by the laws of many countries, there have been many reported cases of necrophilia throughout history.


Incidents of necrophilia are noted to have occurred throughout history. Greek author Herodotus (c.484–425 BC) stated in his Histories that in Ancient Egypt, bodies of exceptionally beautiful women were not embalmed immediately after their deaths, but only after several days had passed, in order to prevent a recurrence of a case where it was discovered that an embalmer had sex with the body of a recently dead woman.[1][2]

According to the Babylonian Talmud (3rd–5th centuries AD), King Herod of Judea (73/74 BC – 4 BC) desired a certain maiden and, after she killed herself to avoid marrying him, preserved her body in honey for seven years. Some say that he embalmed her in order to have intercourse with her; others say that he did not have intercourse with her.[3][4] Roman-Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37 – c. 100 AD), whose works are the main source for Herod's life and character, says nothing about any necrophilia on his part.[5]

Remains of pottery from the Moche civilization represent dead skeletal figures engaged in sexual intercourse with living humans.[1][6]

Gilles de Rais is noted to have sexually violated the dead bodies of his victims.[7][8][9]

According to criminologist Herschel Prins, it was said that until the 19th century, if a betrothed girl in Central Europe died before her marriage day, the spouse could still carry out the ceremony by copulating with the body.[10]

In military conflicts[edit]

During the 18th-century conflict of Peru between rebels of Tupac Amaru and Colonial forces, rebels had sex with dead women.[11]

In the 19th-century Russo-Turkish war, military forces sexually abused dead bodies.[12][13]

During the Moroccan War of 1919–1926, necrophilia was committed by the troops.[14]

A Chinese man was killed during the Nanking Massacre, after he refused to have sex with dead women.[15][16]

During the Rwandan Genocide, sex with dead bodies was reported.[17]

Arthur Shawcross, an American serial killer from Rochester, New York, had also practiced necrophilia.[18] Shawcross (also known as the Genesee River Killer) was convicted of 11 murders in November 1990. He claimed to have killed, raped, decapitated, and eaten two Vietcong women during a tour of Vietnam with the 4th Supply and Transport Company of the 4th Infantry Division in 1968, during the Vietnam War.[19] He reportedly also committed necrophilic sexual acts and mutilations on his victims in Rochester between 1988 and 1989. All but one were prostitutes from the area. Shawcross received two separate life sentences in Monroe County, NY and Wayne County, NY respectively.[20]

List of necrophiles[edit]

Woodcut of François Bertrand, convicted necrophiliac
  • Sergeant François Bertrand (1823–1878) – Convicted of necrophilia, sentenced to 1 year in jail.[21]
  • Victor Ardisson (1872–1944) – Nicknamed the "Vampire of Muy", Ardisson was a French graverobber and necrophiliac,[22] who had sex with over 100 corpses.[23]
  • Henri Bolt – Indulged his necrophiliac improprieties on a number of disinterred corpses, including a ballet dancer whom he dug up at Saint-Ouen in 1886,[24] after which he was arrested. During his trial, he said that "Every man to his taste. Mine is for corpses."[25]
  • Earle Nelson (1897–1928) – American serial killer. Most of Nelson's victims were landladies, whom he would approach on the premise of renting a room. Nelson often studied his worn Bible, using it to keep his victim at ease and off-guard around him. Once he made sure he had gained their trust, he would kill them, usually by strangling them, and engage in necrophilia with their corpse.[26]
  • John Christie (1899–1954) – Killed women and sexually abused their dead bodies.[27]
  • Yoshio Kodaira (1905–1949) – Japanese serial killer. Aside from his crimes in China, the details of which remain unknown, he is noted to have raped and murdered about 10 women from May 25, 1945, to August 6, 1946, in Tochigi and Tokyo. He often committed necrophilia with the corpses. Found guilty on 5 October 1949, Kodaira was sentenced to death.[28]
  • Ed Gein (1906–1984) – American murderer. As well as mutilating the bodies of his victims, he also collected numerous female bodies from local cemeteries, some of which he had sexual contact with.[29]
  • Genzo Kurita (1926–1959) – Japanese serial killer. On August 8, 1951, he raped and murdered a 24-year-old woman, and then had sex with her corpse. Kurita was executed by state on October 14, 1959.[30]
  • Jimmy Savile (1926–2011) – Broadmoor staff members claimed that Savile had told them that he engaged in necrophiliac acts with corpses in their mortuary in Leeds; Savile was friends with the chief mortician, who gave him near-unrestricted access.[31]
  • Melvin Rees (1933–1995) – American serial killer, sentenced in 1960, for 53 years.[32]
  • Henry Lee Lucas (1936–2001) – American serial killer. He had sexual intercourse with the dead bodies of several of his victims, one of whom was his girlfriend, Becky Powell. When asked why he killed women before having sex with them, he answered: "I like peace and quiet."[33]
  • Jerry Brudos (1939–2006) – Also known as "The Lust Killer" and "The Shoe Fetish Slayer", Brudos was a serial killer and necrophiliac, arrested in 1969, later sentenced to life term in the Oregon state prison.[34]
  • Patrick Kearney (1939– ) – American serial killer and necrophile. He avoided torturing a living person.[35]
  • Dennis Nilsen (1945–2018) – British serial killer and necrophiliac. Admitted to having engaged in sexual acts with the corpses of his victims.[36][37] Convicted in 1983.[38]
  • Ted Bundy (1946–1989) – Kidnapper, and necrophiliac.[39] Bundy confessed to 30 homicides; however, the estimates have run as high as 100 or more.[40] He was executed in 1989.[41]
  • Gary Rigway (1949 - ) - American serial killer and necrophile. Ridgway is the most prolific serial killer on record based on the number of confirmed murders; 49 women. Most of his victims were alleged sex workers and teenage runaways. After raping and strangling his victims, he dumped their bodies in overgrown and forested areas of Kings County, and would later return to engage in sexual activity with their corpses.
  • Edmund Kemper (1948– ) – American serial killer and necrophile who murdered about nine people, and had sex with most of his victims' dead bodies, including his mother's.[42]
  • Richard Chase (1950–1980) – American serial killer. He engaged in necrophilia with the body of one of his victims, Evelyn Miroth.[43]
  • Ondrej Rigo (1955– ) – Slovak serial killer. He murdered eight women and one child between 1990 and 1992, and had sex with the corpses of most of the women.[44]
  • Thor Nis Christiansen (1957–1981) – American serial killer and necrophiliac from California.[45]
  • Jeffrey Dahmer (1960–1994) – American sex offender and serial killer. Many of the charges against him included necrophilia.[46] He was sentenced to 15 life terms, totaling about 937 years in prison.[47]
  • Marcelo Costa de Andrade (1967– ) – Brazilian serial killer, who raped and killed 14 boys.[48]
  • Christopher Mhlengwa Zikode (1975– ) – South African serial killer. In 1997 he was sentenced to 140 years.[49]
  • Serhiy Tkach (1952–2018) A mass murderer who performed sexual acts upon his victims after their deaths.
  • Louise Vermilyea (1868–1915) A female serial killer who worked at a funeral home and enjoyed washing her victims' dead bodies before their funeral

See also[edit]


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