A skeletal discovery known as the New England Vampire has been identified 200 years after his death.
While modern society has largely figured out the business of burying folk, that wasn’t always true. In the not-so-distant past, things were a little messier and definitely more confusing. Such was the case with a skeletal discovery named JB-55, also later called the New England Vampire.
These curious bones were found in an 18th century Connecticut graveyard. They were strange because the occupant had been marked as a Vampire. Some time after his death, his grave was dug, his heart was removed and his head and limbs piled over his ribcage in a skull and cross formation. It would seem someone was trying to stop the New England Vampire from rising.
Live Science reports that Archaeologists from the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland announced the identity of the New England Vampire as a man named John Barber. The July 26th announcement states that through historical DNA testing they were able to identify the remains and that he died of tuberculosis.
Commonly known as consumption, tuberculosis causes ulcers in the lungs. During the later stages of the decease the pain can be excruciating. Symptoms cause your skin to be incredibly sensitive and pale, your eyes become extremely light-sensitive and mental stability becomes a real issue.
Certainly sounds familiar now doesn’t it?
Obviously the people around John thought there was little more to his death than just being sick. When he died they did the only reasonable thing 1800 century people could do, protect the public from a Vampire coming back.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t that strange to dig up the body of someone who had died under questionable circumstances. The big thing they were looking for when exhuming a body was for signs of life. Hair that continued to grow. Finger nails getting longer. Teeth wear, scratch marks on the coffin and surrounding dirt. If any one of these were present, the body got the Vampire treatment.
In the case of John Barber, it’s certainly possible that they found some sort of sign that would cause alarm when verifying the body. We now know that while hair and nails no longer grow after death, the surrounding skin tightens, causing the appearance of growth after death. We also know that bodies can move after death, affected by pressure, temperatures and many other aspects they can occur after burial.
When it comes to creatures from the night, like Vampires, you can’t be too careful. Probably best to get a few wrong than have a hungry Vampire jump out of the local graveyard.
For John Barber, it seems to be a case of mistaken identity coupled a fair share of paranoia. A mystery solved and some cool history learned in the process. Good job science people!