Necrophilia is actually considered a fetish, not necessarily a mental disorder. Necrophilia is defined as “an erotic attraction to corpses, with the most common motive cited by psychologists as the attempt to gain possession of an unresisting or nonrejecting partner.” Experts believe there are three types of necrophiles; those who kill in order to have corpses for sexual purposes, those who do not kill but still go the often great lengths to obtain bodies for sexual pleasure, and necrophilic fantasy, where no bodies are actually used. In a recent study, most necrophiles fell into the second category. Necrophiliacs are usually male - about 90% of necrophiles are male - but females do engage in such practices. The two experts who headed the study, Doctors Rosman and Resnick, say most necrophiles are heterosexual, although about 50% are homosexual. In 60% of cases, there is evidence of a personality disorder, while about 10% of all necrophiles deemed psychotic. Necrophiles are also often described as clinically depressed, and feel threatened by normal, interactive relationships. It is easier for them to objectify the corpse, and since their lovers are dead, there is no risk of rejection.
Some serial killers practiced necrophilia, including Ed Kemper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Andrei Chikatilo, and Ted Bundy. (Ed Gein denied sexual contact with the dead when questioned by police.) One of the lesser-known but more extreme cases of necrophilia is that of Carl Von Cosel (Carl Tanzler), who never committed murder and was never considered a criminal up until his clandestine activities surfaced. In the early 20th century, Cosel, a radiologist, fell in love with a young tuberculosis patient by the name of Elena Hoyos. Upon Elena’ death, von Cosel took her corpse from its grave and kept it in his Key West, Florida home. He wired Elena’s skelton together with piano wire, replaced her hair with a wig, inserted glass eyes into her sockets, and kept her skin in good condition by using wax and cloth to reconstruct her features and stall decomposition. (He also perfumed her body to cover up the odor of decay.) In an act rarely - if ever - seen among necrophiles, he inserted a tube into her vagina, enabling him to have sex with her corpse.
It was not until nearly ten years after her death that Elena was discovered in von Cosel’s home, in near-perfect condition. An autopsy was performed on the woman’s body, but there was no question that she had died of natural causes. The only crime von Cosel could be charged with was grave robbing, and the statute of limitations had expired for that crime. As a result, Carl von Cosel was released from police custody with no charges filed against him. When he died several years later, a virtual recluse, a life-size doll wearing a mold of Elena’s face was found in his home.