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Building the Perfect Doll: Two Disturbing Tales of Would-be Reanimators

I am an author and paranormal enthusiast who has published numerous books and articles on the subject of true unexplained phenomena.

A Word of Warning

Be aware that the following stories are more than a little bit disturbing. While not graphic by any means, they touch on sensitive subject matter including grave robbery and necrophilia. Unfortunately, these distasteful elements are necessary in the telling of these true events.


A Seed is Planted

In the early 1970s, a Russian boy happened to witness a funeral procession as it passed by on its way to a local cemetery. Tragically, the body being transported was that of a little girl.

The boy was mesmerized as he observed the stream of bereaved souls as they slowly made their way through the streets. As they grew nearer, a few of the mourners broke from the crowd and approached the youngster. For reasons he never understood, they then coerced him into kissing the corpse of the child being taken for burial. Obedient to a fault, the boy did as he was told.

The disturbing incident meant little to the mourners who then continued on their way. The boy, however, would never forget his first brush with death. His unwilling interaction with the deceased child, whom he had not known in life, had sparked something in him that would only grow in intensity in the years to come. Unbeknownst to them, the crowd had awakened a monster.


The Face He Showed

Anatoly Yurevych Moskvin was born in September of 1966 in Gorky, now Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. The early years of his life were unremarkable, that is, until his encounter with the funeral procession. After that, while other children his age were outside playing sports, he spent his free time roaming the grounds of local cemeteries. He was so entranced by the freshly dug graves that he would often lie upon them and sleep peacefully through the night; a practice that continued long after he was grown. As far as he was concerned, the hallowed ground was home.

Today, Moskvin freely admits to being passionate about gravesites and the treasures they hold. While still in his youth, few knew that an idea was sprouting in his fertile, if twisted, mind that would bring an infamy few would claim.

Although socially inept, Moskvin excelled in the academic world. A voracious reader, he was like a sponge that could effortlessly absorb and retain information. Other students couldn't help but admire his keen intellect.

Moskvin graduated from the esteemed Moscow University and went on to have a prestigious career as a linguist. The respected scholar was also a highly sought-after guest lecturer and writer. True to form, the expertise he had honed and then shared with the world centered on the topics that interested him most: death and all its trappings. He referred to himself, first and foremost, as a necropolist.

If an institution needed someone to opine on the subjects of cemeteries, burial rituals or the occult; Anatoly Moskvin was their man. During his illustrious career, he had stood at various podiums throughout Russia addressing roomfuls of enthralled listeners, none of whom were aware of the horrors taking place behind the scenes.

Moskvin had chosen to remain at home with his parents even as an adult. A loner by nature, he never dated or had a social life to speak of. He didn't consume alcohol or smoke, opting instead for clean living. His one vice, as far as anyone knew, was an almost obsessive need to collect dolls. Over time, it would be revealed that he had found a way to merge his two passions in the most terrifying of manners.


His Children

The elder Moskvins traveled extensively, sometimes leaving their son on his own for months at a time. Upon returning from their journeys, they would usually be greeted by a new doll that Anatoly had added to his ever-growing menagerie.

Aware of their son's eccentricities, the Moskvins indulged him as their home filled with dozens of the life-sized figures he so cherished. They considered it a small concession, after all, he had never given them any trouble and they had no reason to think he ever would.

Things took a turn for Moskvin in 2011 when authorities began investigating a series of cemetery desecrations. Someone, it seemed, was digging up graves and removing the contents. Strangely, the vandal focused his mischief mainly on the burial plots of young girls.

After weeks of conducting interviews and canvasing local cemeteries, police ended up at the home of Anatoly Moskvin. Once inside, they realized that they had stumbled upon something far more disturbing than simple grave robbery.

Investigators discovered that chairs and sofas throughout the dwelling were occupied by dolls like none they had ever seen before. It was obvious that these peculiar collectibles were not store-bought novelties. Rather, the dolls looked exactly like what they were: mummified human corpses.

Moskvin cooperated fully with authorities. He wasn't the least bit ashamed of what he had done. If anything, he reveled in the attention being shown his collection. Sharing his work had always been important to him.

While searching the premises, officials found numerous books on the subject of doll making. They also uncovered photographs of open graves and dead bodies, as well as a cache of stolen nameplates that had been removed from headstones and kept as macabre souvenirs.

As the investigation continued, authorities estimated that over a hundred graves had been disturbed at cemeteries stretching from Nizhny to Moscow. When all was said and done, twenty-six human 'dolls' were confiscated from the Moskvins' residence.

When asked why he had stolen the bodies and converted them into dolls, Moskvin's explanation had been a simple one. He said that he adored children and always wanted one of his own. Since that was unlikely to happen given his status as a loner, he decided that, if he couldn't have a daughter naturally, he would create one.

Moskvin explained that it had been an easy plan to set in motion. He would scope out various newspapers and pounce whenever he read that a child had died. After their burial, he would sneak into the cemetery and remove the body from its resting place, but only if the dead girl was in agreement.

He went on to say that, before removing the bodies, he would ask the girls if they wanted to go with him. He would then hover over their graves and wait for a response. If he heard nothing, he would abandon the mission and leave them in peace. It was only if a whisper arose from beneath the earth giving him the go-ahead that he would proceed with digging up the corpse. Once he had a body in his possession, preservation of the remains would begin.

Moskvin used a solution of baking soda and salt to dry the cadavers. He would then secret the body away in an area of the cemetery where no one would find it while the mummification process was taking place. When that stage was successfully completed, he would then retrieve the body and take it home where he could set about finishing the transformation.

Working in his family's garage, Moskvin used padding to fill the body cavities and limbs so that the dolls would keep their shape. He would then dress them appropriately and decorate their faces with makeup. If needed, wigs were utilized to give the dolls a more lifelike appearance. Sometimes, the face would be marred or too damaged by decay to save. In those cases, a mask would be used to cover the existing features.

According to Moskvin, his ultimate goal wasn't to own more dolls but to use his knowledge of the occult to reanimate the dead girls. His methods of preservation were only meant to keep the bodies intact until they could be brought back to life. He explained that he wanted his 'daughters' to have fully functioning forms when the time came for them to be reunited with their souls.

By his own estimation, Moskvin had been collecting bodies for well over a decade before he was finally apprehended. He insisted that he found nothing wrong in his actions, considering the fact that he had only taken those who had allowed him to do so.

Charged with desecration of the dead, he could have faced five years behind bars. The criminal case was abandoned, however, when it became apparent to everyone involved that prison wasn't going to help Moskvin, whose self-righteousness and resolve were unshakable.

Diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, Moskvin was sent to a psychiatric facility rather than a courtroom. Today, he remains under the care and supervision of mental health professionals. In spite of their efforts to break through his wall of delusion, he steadfastly holds onto his desire to create living children from the remains of the dead.


·The Daily Mail



·BBC News


The Infatuation

There is no limit to what some people will do in the name of love. When things go as planned between two sweethearts, romance blossoms and they live happily ever after. It is on those occasions when infatuations are one-sided that trouble often ensues. The following tale recounts the extremes one man went to in order to possess the woman of his dreams.

Carl Tanzler was born in Dresden, Germany in the year 1877. He was a shy child who preferred his own company to that of his peers. As an adult, he was considered by most who knew him to be a bit of an oddball. Only later would they learn just how right they had been.

A respected radiologist, he was also a devoted husband and father. The cozy life he had made for himself would have been enough to satisfy most people, but not Tanzler. For him, there was always something missing and in 1926 he set out to find it.

It was then, at the age of forty-nine, that the introverted family man announced that he was leaving. Abandoning his family to their own devices, he moved to Key West, Florida. Once there, Tanzler not only acquired a new residence and job, but also an identity born of his vivid imagination. For the once reliable radiologist, phase two of his life had begun.

After settling in the Sunshine State, he accepted a position at the U.S. Marine Hospital where he spun tall tales of his past exploits as a submarine captain. He also bragged of having earned nine doctorate degrees. As if those accomplishments weren't impressive enough, he told anyone who would listen that he held patents on a number of groundbreaking inventions. The stories were entertaining to be sure, but not one of them was true.

In 1930, Tanzler met the woman who would change his life. He knew the moment he laid eyes on twenty-one-year-old Elena De Hoyos that he had found his destiny. He was convinced of this because, according to him, hers was a face that had haunted him for years.

Tanzler would later claim to have dreamt of the raven-haired beauty countless times in the decades leading up to that fateful meeting. Helen, as she was known, had not yet entered the world when he claimed thoughts of her were already consuming his every waking moment.

The two happened to cross paths when Helen's parents brought her to the hospital after she was stricken with tuberculosis. The family didn't realize that Tanzler was the facility's radiologist. Rather, they were under the impression, thanks to him, that he was not only an esteemed physician, but also royalty.

During their initial meeting, Tanzler had introduced himself as Count Carl von Cosel. After boasting of his impeccable credentials, he made the girls' parents a laundry list of promises he knew he couldn't keep. Among them was the assurance that he would cure their daughter.

Helen's family entrusted her care to the man who claimed he would make it his life's work to restore the young woman's health. What he did instead was to pursue her relentlessly using medicine as his guise.

Tanzler showered Helen with gifts, even as her body grew weaker. It isn't clear if she was aware of his romantic interest in her, but it is widely believed that she viewed him as a doctor and nothing more. She respected him, but from her perspective theirs was a strictly professional relationship.

Helen lost her battle with tuberculosis a year later. A grieving Tanzler paid for the funeral costs, going so far as to foot the bill for a mausoleum to which only he had a key. Her family was humbled by his generosity. Only later would they learn that his motives had been anything but pure.


The Perfect Wife

Beginning immediately after the funeral, Tanzler made daily treks to Helen's crypt. Cemetery staff noted that he spent hours every night inside the tomb, alone with the body of his former patient. They thought it strange, but assumed that it was his way of paying his respects. As such, they allowed him his privacy.

In reality, Tanzler was laying the groundwork for a future with Helen. The nights he spent with her corpse were not being wasted. He was using the time to preserve her remains for what was to come.

Two years after Helen's passing, Tanzler suffered an emotional breakdown. Seemingly in the throes of despair, he quit his job and ceased making his nightly pilgrimages to the mausoleum. It was during this period of turmoil that he fell completely into the abyss.

What no one knew at the time was that, on his last visit to the cemetery, Tanzler had stolen Helen's body and relocated it to a makeshift laboratory. He was anxious to take her home, but knew that she wasn't ready just yet. It was clear, even to him, that her remains would have to be modified before they could embark on the life he had always envisioned.

He began the process by inserting wire coat hangers into Helen's limbs so that he could position her as he saw fit. He then removed her eyes and replaced them with glass replicas. Her body was hollowed out and stuffed with rags and towels in an attempt to restore her figure. A wig was fashioned out of human hair to cover her threadbare scalp.

Ever the artist, Tanzler used a combination of mortician's wax and plaster of Paris, a quick-setting powder that hardens when mixed with water, to define his beloved's features. When his work was complete, in his mind at least, Helen was as good as new. With nothing left to do, he gathered up the object of his affection and took her home.

For a time, Tanzler wallowed in domestic bliss. He enjoyed cooking for the woman he considered his bride. He also bathed and dressed her daily, making sure to touch up any areas that showed signs of wear. This routine included dousing her with disinfectant to keep the smell of decay to a minimum.

Tanzler's change in relationship status had not gone unnoticed by area residents. The local rumor mill began churning with stories that the man they all assumed was a confirmed bachelor had found himself a girlfriend.

Shopkeepers spoke of his laying down large sums of cash for expensive fragrances. Along with the heavenly scents, Tanzler purchased jewelry that indicated he had someone special in his life.

He also bought women's clothing, including fancy lingerie. When clerks inquired as to the identity of the lucky lady, his response would come in the form of a sly smile. It was apparent that even someone as far gone as the mad radiologist knew when to keep his mouth shut.

A neighbor boy was one of the first to suspect that something wasn't right in the Tanzler household. At night, he would see the strange man next door dancing in front of the picture window with what looked like a store mannequin. Somewhat alarmed by the sight, he told his parents who, in due time. would witness the spectacle for themselves.

Eventually, word of Tanzler's odd behavior reached Helen's sister. She had always had her doubts about the middle-aged man who had made her sibling the center of his universe. Out of curiosity, she decided to pay him an impromptu visit. This unexpected encounter would lead to a discovery that was far worse than anything she or anyone else could have imagined.


The Mind of a Madman

Nearly ten years had passed since Helen's death when her sister knocked on Carl Tanzler's door. Welcoming her inside, he made no effort to hide the waxy figure that sat propped on the sofa. Apparently, he had become so accustomed to the morbid living arrangement that it hadn't occurred to him how things might look to an outsider.

After catching sight of the abomination that used to be her sister, the horrified woman fled the house. She went straight to the nearest police station to report what she had witnessed. She told stunned officers that Carl Tanzler had turned the body of her long-dead sister into a grotesque doll with whom he shared a life and, presumably, a bed.

Law enforcement agents soon descended upon the home and, sure enough, found Helen just as described. Tanzler was arrested on the spot. He would face charges of grave robbing, vandalism and desecration of a corpse. In the meantime, Helen's body was removed and held as evidence in the unprecedented case.

A mental health evaluation was ordered which determined that the subject was sane and in control of his faculties. Tanzler, as it happened, was simply crazy in love. As was to be expected, news of his unconventional romantic endeavors made the papers. To nearly everyone's surprise, public sympathy leaned heavily in his favor.

The tale of forbidden love captured the attention of people far and wide. Women especially, rather than being appalled by Tanzler's actions, seemed to find them endearing. Some swooned at his devotion that transcended death. His advocates reasoned that he hadn't really hurt anyone since Helen had been unaware of the events that transpired after her passing.

At trial, Tanzler insisted that his intentions all along had been to bring Helen back to life. In order to accomplish this miraculous feat, he was waiting for the opportunity to send her body into space where he believed massive doses of radiation would revive her.

Those who had spoken with Tanzler following his arrest weren't buying it. They felt he was playing up the 'crazy' angle in order to garner sympathy and, perhaps, a reduced sentence should he be convicted. To them, he had seemed perfectly content with the way he had been living and had never wanted, or expected, anything more.

As far as they could tell, Tanzler believed that his relationship with Helen was a healthy, consensual pairing that was perfect in every way. There was no need for space experiments or change of any kind. He had convinced himself that Helen was, for all intents and purposes, very much alive.

In the end, all charges were dropped. Carl Tanzler walked away a free man. He had only one request as he was being escorted from the courthouse which was to have Helen's body returned to him. The outrageous demand was denied. It was the only time during the entire ordeal that things hadn't gone his way.

In an effort to cash in on the story while it was still making headlines, a local funeral home put Helen's mummified body on display for all to see. For a price, curiosity seekers could cast their eyes upon the woman at the center of the nation's most sordid love affair.

It was not lost on some residents that this final act of disrespect was not too far removed from those of Tanzler. Helen, a total innocent, was once again the victim of bottom feeders.

Some six thousand people viewed the unnatural looking figure in the coming months. When the furor died down, Helen's body was interred in an unmarked grave where no one, including Tanzler, could find her.

The lovesick grave robber's moment in the spotlight faded and he eventually returned to a somewhat normal life, at least, for him. By this time, his long-suffering wife Doris, whom he had never divorced, was also living in Florida. She had remained one of his staunchest supporters despite his many failings as a husband, not to mention his undying love for another.

Tanzler would eventually buy a home in Pasco County in order to be closer to Doris. They saw each other every day and enjoyed a cordial relationship. As pleasant as that may have been, it didn't mean that he had given up hope of building a life with his one true love which would always be Helen.

The saga of the one-sided affair had made Tanzler a minor celebrity during and after the trial. Documents would later surface that, had they been made available to the public at the time, would almost certainly have given his legions of fans and allies second thoughts.

What hadn't been reported by the press was that, upon examining Helen's remains, a tube was found to have been placed inside what was left of her sex organs. The discovery indicated that Tanzler had been abusing the corpse in every conceivable way. As a result of this distasteful revelation, necrophilia was added to his long list of depravities.

When she met Carl Tanzler, Elena De Hoyos was a girl who was dying from consumption. She would never be his girlfriend, wife or willing lover. Even so, her name and his are forever synonymous, an unfortunate fact that would no doubt have brought him great pleasure.

They say that love never dies. Neither does obsession, or so it would seem. When Tanzler passed away peacefully in 1952 at the age of seventy-five, he was not alone. By his side was a life-sized doll he had constructed shortly after his trial ended. The mannequin bore both the features and name of the beauty in whose image it was made: Helen.


·The Vintage News-Tijana Radeska

·History Daily



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