Cremations have taken place throughout human history, and it’s only natural that some interesting stories appear about the practice. And while these cremation stories lack the zombies of burial lore, they have some chilling characters of their own. Join Neptune Society on a journey through the interesting and sometimes creepy side of cremation, just in time for Halloween.
Raphael Guido Rombauer was a Hungarian immigrant who became a major in the Union army during the American Civil War. He survived the war and became a business man in St. Louis before passing away in the late 1800s. After his cremation, his remains sat in a funeral chapel for 102 years until they were finally buried next to his wife and children. Locals celebrated the event with Civil War reenactors, current soldiers, and a band, as Rombauer left a strong legacy in the geography and business of the area.
Jose Salvador Lantigua owned a thriving business but couldn’t keep it out of its $8 million debt. To solve this the aging man took a visit to Venezuela. There Lantigua “died” and was “cremated,” and his family tried to receive over $9 million in life insurance claims. However, the insurance company was skeptical of the death and began an investigation. The insurance company claimed Lantigua was alive in Venezuela, but an attorney defending the Lantigua family presented a death certificate. Soon enough, the U.S. State Department began an investigation into a strange passport application. It was for a postman in New York who had applied for a passport before in 1999. However, in 2013 the picture that appeared on the passport application looked entirely different – including the skin color. It turned out to be Lantigua, alive and well in North Carolina as the best example of a cremation “zombie.” He was arrested for faking a number of forms including getting a Venezuelan doctor to sign papers pertaining to his “death” and faking the passport application that got him caught.
While cleaning a footpath through a popular UK nature reserve, workers uncovered a cremation urn that is estimated to be over 3,500 years old. Remains were still inside the urn, and further analysis may be able to tell the age and sex of the individual. Even though burial is considered “traditional,” archeological sites like this show that cremation has been around for a significant portion of human history as well.
After a tragic incident last year where 43 young men at a college in Mexico were kidnapped by municipal officers, the Mexican government claimed that the students’ remains were found in a landfill after a mass cremation that took 14 hours to complete. However, outside investigators found many problems with the story, including the fact that a mass cremation for so many people would take far longer than 14 hours to complete and that the remains of only one student were found. After the full report refuting the Mexican statement of a mass cremation came out early this September, investigations have begun to figure out exactly what happened to the students.
Stories like these are only a part of a whole host of unnerving and interesting stories involving cremations. While most cremations aren’t so dramatic, the ones that are can have a huge impact on a community.
Thanks for reading our post on spooky cremation stories. We at Neptune Society would like to wish everyone a safe and Happy Halloween.
Special thanks to Jessica Watts, Service Manager of Neptune Society Jacksonville for her support and contributions to this post.