Count Von Cosel and his disturbing obsession

I love telling you guys stories about true crime. If you didn’t know I have a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. so talking about this stuff is one of my favorite things to do. We have talked about a child serial killer and when the Mona Lisa was stolen, but today is going to be a little different. We are taking our little adventure all the way to Key West Florida in 1930. Our story revolves around Count Von Cosel and his disturbing obsession.

Count Von Cosel

I hope you are sitting down for this. Grab a drink, a snack, and settle in for this unsettling story…

Boy meets girl

In 1930 Count Von Cosel was a civilian x-ray technician for the U.S. Marine hospital in Key West during the Great Depression. One day in May, this beautiful young woman named Elena Hoyos comes into the hospital for treatment. Elena being only 22 years old is there because she has tuberculosis.

Tuberculosis was called the robber of youth because the disease had a higher death rate among young people. With all the Doctors telling Elena and her family that she wouldn’t have long to live. Cosel disagrees.

He is not willing to accept her diagnosis because he recognizes her from a dream he had. They are meant to be together, because 32 years ago. Mind Elena is 22 and 10 years before her birth Cosel swears his ancestors came to him in a dream telling him that he would marry a woman who looked exactly like Elena Hoyos.

Boy falls in love with girl

Despite her diagnosis, It is love at first sight for Cosel. He is so infatuated with Elena that with each one of her visits he is falling in love more and more.

To this point, he started making advancements towards her. Elena is hesitant because she being only 22 and Cosel is in his 60s. He showered Elena with gifts. Promising her that he could cure her by using a special X-ray machine and these tonics he made with gold and water.

With the intention of helping Elena live because she is to be his wife. Cosel starts doing free radiation treatments for her. He did everything in his power to make sure she lived.

Girl dies

In October of 1931, Elena dies. All the treatments and tonics that Cosel had done for her did not work. He was heartbroken and distraught. Cosel went to Elena’s family and offered to pay for her funeral and pay to build a mausoleum for her to be laid to rest in. The family was shocked but very grateful to Cosel. So they agreed.

Cosel builds a mausoleum for Elena, but only orders one key to the door. A key he kept for himself. Every day for 2 years he would visit Elena at the mausoleum bringing her gifts and trinkets. He believed that she could communicate with him through voice and song.

Her death had really taken a toll on him and he ended up getting fired from the hospital in 1933. When that happened he stopped visiting Elena and her family found that to be really weird and unlike Cosel. What the family did not know was that…

Boy digs up girls body

On one of his last trips to see Elena Cosel needed to see her. He needed to be comforted by her beautiful face. Cosel decided it was a good idea to open Elena’s coffin. When he opened the lid to her coffin thinking he was going to be met with the love of his life. He is taken back by the rotting flesh and horrific smell of his once beautiful bride-to-be.

When the family noticed he stopped going to see her they did not know that during one of his nightly visits… the lovesick doctor took the body of his loved one from her crypt.

He could not see his beloved Elena decomposing like that. Knowing that he could help her he took her home and with the help of oiled silk, bee’s wax, plaster, hooks, and strings he made her remains look like a living person. Replacing her eyeballs with glass eyes.

He spared no expense for his love. He bought dresses and perfume for her. Since his wax and plaster were not a permanent solution. He had to deal with the decomposition smell from his lovely Elena.

This did not bother him. He just wanted to live his life with Elena.

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Boy gets caught

Cosel neighbors knew he lived alone but always found it odd that he was buying dresses and perfume. Rumors started going around town about Cosel could be seen in his window dancing with a big “doll”. Those rumors got back to Elena’s sister. She couldn’t take it anymore and decided to confront Cosel. Preparing herself for a HUGE fight with Cosel, but he admitted everything.

Cosel was so excited to show her what he did with Elena. She calls the cops and he is arrested. They charged Cosel with grave robbing and abusing a corpse. He lived with Elena for 7 years. He removed her from her tomb in 1933 and got arrested for it in 1940.

Sideshow attraction

After Cosel’s arrest, the funeral home that was caring for Elena’s body put her on display in the parlor of their building. She became an exhibit for all to see. People from all over came to see this macabre.

Teachers brought students. Journalists came to write about the story. Some visitors even asked if the city would keep Elena on display because she was so well preserved. Entomb her in a glass box for all to see.

During the trial of Count Von Cosel

During the trial, Cosel pleaded to the court that if he would be allowed… he wanted to use an airship to take him and Elena to the stratosphere. Cosel believed that that radiation could penetrate her skin and restore her back to life.

While during an examination of Elena’s body they found that a small funnel was discovered inside Elena’s vagina. Cosel married Elena and consummated their marriage. The doctor found semen inside the small funnel.

Unfortunately due to the statute of limitations on Cosel’s crime, he was acquitted of all charges. He pleaded to the judge one last time and asked if he could have Elena’s body back. The judge told him NO.

The judge released the body back to Elena’s family and they buried her in an unmarked grave so Cosel would not find her.

Count Von Cosel
Image Source Count Carl Tanzler von Cosel laboratory near the end of Flagler Avenue C 1940. From the DeWolfe and Wood Collection in the Otto Hirzel Scrapbook.

Come take a tour

Once being released, Cosel turned his home into a museum for all to tour. He charged 25 cents per visitor. People were so intrigued by him and his measure to love someone. Some thought he was a hopeless romantic whereas others thought him a gross necrophiliac.

Once people were over him and his tours they stopped coming. Cosel threw a fit and dynamite to blow up Elena’s old mausoleum and left town.

Back story of Count Von Cosel

Although Count Von Cosel was a normal-looking man on the outside. Inside was far more disturbing than we could ever imagine. Cosel worked as an x-ray technician. He claimed to have many other degrees. He was going to be the next Thomas Edison or Nikola Tesla because he too was an electrical inventor. Not to mention he had also been a submarine captain as well.

For a man in his 60s, he sure has done a lot for himself… Except none of that was true. Not even his name.

Cosel’s real name was Carl Tanzler, a German immigrant. But he went by Carl Tanzler Von Cosel. So he could say he was related to Countess Von Cosel. Countess was well known for being the mistress of Augustus the Strong, King of Poland and Elector of Saxony, in 1706–1713. Eventually, Augustus turned against her and exiled her to Saxony.

The Countess was the relative Cosel was talking about when he said a relative came to him in a dream.

When Cosel left Key West he went to Zephyrhills in Pasco County Florida. Where he left a wife and 2 kids many many years ago. He was MARRIED with CHILDREN. From what I understand the wife and children did not let him come back. He spent the next few years alone. He wrote a book called  “Fantastic adventures” in 1947. Where he told his side of the story.

As far as the news reported Cosel died in 1952. He didn’t die alone he was found in his home holding onto a wax life-size doll with a plaster cast made of Elena’s face.


A couple of rumors about Cosel popped up after his death that managed to switch the bodies with the Hoyos family or somehow get the remains were returned to him secretly and he died with the real body in his arms.

Thoughts on Count Von Cosel?

What a crazy story! I have never heard of this story until I was looking up scary stories about Florida. This popped up when I was about 10 stories deep about other creepy things. I stopped what I was doing and KNEW I had to share this wild ride. What are your thoughts about this whole thing? Let me know in the comments below!!

Until tomorrow, Have a great day! Remember you are a badass!

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