In Greek, nekros means “corpse” and philia means “love,” hence the term necrophilia, which is defined as “sexual gratification by having sex with the dead.” The behavior is considered to be among the most perverted of all desires and is accordingly considered a crime in most territories. Disturbingly, however, history is littered with necrophiles.
In Greek mythology, for example, Parthenius of Nicaea’s Erotica Pathemata features the story of Dimoetes, who fell in love with the corpse of the most beautiful woman he had seen. He then kept the body and had sex with it repeatedly. In fact, even Achilles himself had sex with the dead body of the Amazonian queen, Penthesilea, after he had killed her in battle.
Then there are, even more shockingly, cases of actual necrophilia in ancient cultures. In ancient Egypt, the corpses of notable women were not immediately surrendered to embalmers to deter them from having sex with the bodies, as one embalmer was caught doing. Then there was the Greek tyrant Periander, who was described by Herodotus as “putting his loaves into a cold oven” when he killed his wife then had sex with her dead body.
What is the psychology behind such behavior? A 1989 study revealed that the most common motivation of true necrophiles was “to possess an unresisting and unrejecting partner.” And really, what partner could be more “unresisting and unrejecting” than a corpse?
Here are ten shocking cases of necrophilia:
10. With the Corpse of His Stepmother
In February of 2008, a horrible double murder took place in Louisville, Kentucky. 39-year-old Laura Hughes and her 12-year-old daughter, Tessa, were both found lifeless in their home on Zilma Avenue. Shockingly, the suspect was Tessa’s half-brother and Laura’s step-son, Martin Hughes. Metro Police claimed that the 20-year-old Martin had admitted during their investigation that he had shot Tessa first, then Laura afterwards. Even more disturbingly, after the murders, Martin claimed to have had sexual intercourse with Laura’s corpse. These admissions earned Martin a sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole for the double murder and two counts of abusing a corpse.
9. With Severed Heads
Standing 6 feet, 9 inches tall, Edmund Kemper III had a rough childhood that was marked by his parents’ divorce, an alcoholic mother who often humiliated him, and being relocated to live with his paternal grandparents. Likely as a result of these circumstances, he exhibited psychopathic and antisocial behavior at a very young age. He killed the family’s pet cat and performed strange sexual rituals on the toy dolls of his sister. Then, on August 27, 1964, when Kemper was just 16 years old, he argued with his grandmother, then shot her in the head before stabbing her repeatedly. Later, when Kemper’s grandfather came home, the boy shot him dead as well. In prison, Kemper displayed remarkable intelligence, his IQ being recorded at 145. Furthermore, he exhibited exemplary behavior, thus allowing him to be released just five years after his double murder. However, from 1972 to 1973, he separately murdered 6 female students and his own mother. Worse, he engaged in sex with the severed heads of the female students. He was convicted for these crimes in November of 1973.
9. With the Corpse of a 92-Year-Old Woman
In 2007, 24-year-old Anthony Merino of New York City was hired as a laboratory technician at Holy Name Hospital in New Jersey. Shockingly, on just his fourteenth day at work, security guards caught him having sex with the dead body of a 92-year-old woman. The dead woman’s next of kin were contacted, and the guards immediately called police, who charged Merino after interviewing him. Needless to say, the former histology technician was fired from Holy Name Hospital, and a Begen County judge penalized Merino with seven years in prison.
8. With a Deer Carcass
On October 11, 2006, an 18-year-old Bryan James Hathaway was biking along Stinson Avenue in Wisconsin when he chanced upon a dead deer. Strangely, the teenager was aroused by the sight and proceeded to move the carcass into the woods to have sex with it. Hathaway claimed that he felt upset with himself after doing what he had done, but apparently, he had previously exhibited a longing for bestial necrophilia. In 2005, Hathaway shot an Arabian horse dead because he wanted to have sex with hit. However, a neighbor heard the gunshot and caught Hathaway before he could carry out his plan. He was convicted for both acts and was required to go through psychological treatment.
6. With up to 100 Corpses at a Morgue
In 1982, door-to-door salesman David Steffen killed Karen Range, and because semen was found in Range’s corpse, he was accused of raping her. However, Steffen vehemently denied the rape, thus leading authorities to investigate the matter. Shockingly, the semen found in the corpse matched the DNA profile of Kenneth Douglas, the attendant in the Cincinnati morgue where Range’s body was stored. With solid evidence pinning him down as a necrophile, Douglas pleaded guilty to sexually abusing the corpse, thus earning him a three-year prison sentence. Furthermore, in 2012, he also pleaded guilty for the same crime against the corpses of Charlene Appling and Angel Hicks. Disturbingly, in a deposition hearing, Douglas admitted to, on separate occasions, having sexual intercourse with up to 100 corpses before they were autopsied.
5. Would’ve Been With a Dug Up Corpse
In 2006, twin brothers Nicholas and Alex Grunke, along with their friend Dustin Radke, planned to dig up a corpse and have sex with it. The chosen victim of the Lancaster, Wisconsin youths was a 20-year-old woman who had recently died in a motorcycle accident and whose obituary Nicholas had come across. On the night of the sick scheme, the three young men took a tarp, a crow bar, duct tape, and a box of condoms with them as they drove in a van to carry out their plan. However, just as they had dug to the dead woman’s grave, they were caught by a police officer and subsequently charged. In a plea deal, Dustin Radke pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault, while Alex Grunke was convicted of vandalism and attempted theft. Meanwhile, Nicholas Grunke claimed no intent to have sex with the corpse. He told a jury he “was going to take it [the corpse] to a clearing in the woods and just kind of spend time with it” as he had seen in the movie I’ll Bury You Tomorrow. Nevertheless, he was found guilty of sexual assault, theft, and damage to property.
4. With Corpses Used as a Mattress for Sex
This case doesn’t involve actual sex with the dead but is still classified under necrophilia fetish. The incident took place in Joliet, Illinois on January 10, 2013 after 18-year-old Alisa Massaro decided to carry out her fantasies. A friend, 18-year-old Bethany McKee, helped by luring 24-year-olds Terrence Rankins and Eric Glover to Massaro’s home by promising them sexual favors. Then, Massaro’s boyfriend, 24-year-old Joshua Miner, killed the men, after which Miner, with the help of friend 19-year-old Alan Landerman, hog-tied the corpses and covered them with a beige sheet. Miner and Massaro then had sex on top of the bodies, but McKee said she believed that Landerman had also participated in the sexual acts. Eventually, Massaro entered a plea agreement with prosecutors, testified against her three co-accused, and received a 10-year prison sentence. Meanwhile, Miner, McKee, and Landerman were sentenced to life imprisonment.
3. With the Corpses of Men He Had Killed
Dennis Andrew Nilsen, also known as the “Kindly Killer” and the “Muswell Hill Murderer”, committed, on separate occasions, 12 murders in London, England from 1978 and 1983. In that period, he lured the men to his two homes, then strangled and, in some cases, drowned them. Afterwards, he cleaned and dressed the corpses, after which he masturbated over them or performed intercrural sex (the placing of the penis in between a partner’s thighs, then thrusting for friction) with some of them. He also dissected his victims’ bodies and either burned the body parts or flushed them down the toilet. Ironically, Nilsen’s crimes were discovered when he complained to estate agents that his drains were blocked, and a plumber found flesh-like substances and bones to be the cause for the blockage. Nilsen was eventually sentenced to life imprisonment.
2. With Women He Had Killed as He Wore Women’s Clothing
Before Jerry Brudos was born in South Dakota in 1939, his mother had wanted to have a girl. Disappointed with having borne a son, she often dressed Jerry in girl’s clothes and treated him very poorly. This seemed to adversely affect Brudos as he developed a strange women’s shoes fetish, which he often satisfied by stealing women’s shoes. Then, beginning 1968, while married with children in Salem, Oregon, he began a murderous spree that on four separate occasions, had him dressing up in women’s clothing, strangling a woman, and bringing her body to the family home’s garage. There, he masturbated over each body as he wore high-heeled shoes. He even amputated two pairs of these corpses’ breasts and used them as paperweights. Finally, Brudos’s crimes were discovered, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment.
1. With Numerous Corpses of Women He Had Killed
America’s Ted Bundy is among the most famous of all serial killers, and among his numerous crimes was necrophilia. The first recorded instance of Bundy having sex with a corpse involved his 1975 murder of Lynette Culver, a 12-year-old from Idaho. Actually, authorities did not know Bundy was involved in Culver’s disappearance until he revealed to them details about the girl that he would not have otherwise known had he not spoken to her. Shockingly, Bundy admitted that he had lured Culver from her school, taken her to a hotel room, drowned her in a bathtub, then sexually assaulted her before disposing of her corpse in a river. Another of Bundy’s murder-necrophilia episodes took place in 1978, when he got into the sorority house of FSU Chi Omega in Tallahasee, where among his six victims was 20-year-old Lisa Levy. Bundy beat and strangled the Levy before tearing away one of her nipples, biting her left buttock, and sexually assaulting her corpse with a hair spray bottle. Eventually, Bundy admitted to having victimized over a hundred victims. He also narrated having revisited the corpses of his victims to groom them and perform sexual acts with them until the bodies either decomposed or were destroyed by wild animals.