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When Dr Carl Tanzler insisted he would pay for a fancy mausoleum to be the final resting place of Elena de Hoyos, the young woman's parents assumed it was because he felt guilty about not being able to save her.

Preoccupied with grief after losing their daughter to tuberculosis at the age of just 22, they gave the seemingly kind and attentive doctor the green light.

Little did they know, he had his own sinister intentions – he needed to stop the body from rotting.

Also unbeknown to Elena's family, Tanzler had the only key to the crypt.

What followed was one of the most shocking cases of grave robbing and necrophilia in history.

German-born Tanzler was in his 50s when he first met 21-year-old Elena in 1930.

He believed she had been appearing to him in visions since he was a child and that his dead aunt had told him they would wed.

It was a demented fantasy that led to the the twisted doc turning her into a real-life sex doll, stuffing her body with rags and inserting a tube in to her collapsed and decaying genitals so that he could have sex with her.

Have you ever had a premonition or dream about a future partner? Tell us in the comments below!

From the moment he saw Elena at the Marine Hospital in Key West, Florida, Tanzler, who was 54, was convinced the stunning young Cuban woman was the bride he had been waiting all his life to meet.

But there were no romantic glances between the pair, or any sort of affection – Elena was dying from tuberculosis.

Her worsening condition only made Tanzler even more intent on keeping her alive.

However, despite his best efforts, Elena died when she was 22. Tanzler was distraught.

Once she was safe inside the mausoleum he had funded, Tanzler began creeping inside at night, preserving her body with formaldehyde, and chatting to her for hours.

When the foul stench of decomposition became too much for him, he would sit outside the crypt and continue to whisper sweet nothings through a special telephone.

While alive, Elena did nothing to suggest she could fall for Tanzler, despite him making his feelings very clear, and showering her with expensive gifts.

Nevertheless, he remained convinced that her ghost would appear to him and profess her love for him.

One night, leaving her was simply too much, so he scooped up her rotting body and took her home, where she was his ‘corpse bride’ for almost eight years.

Determined to revive her and fulfil his aunt’s prophecy, he tried all sorts of experiments and treatments to bring the woman back to life, believing death would have ‘cured’ her illness.

He went to great lengths to stop his ‘wife’ from decomposing.

As well as dousing her body in perfumes and preservatives to hide the smell of decay, he used piano wire to hold her bones together as her muscles and ligaments disintegrated.

He also removed her eyes, replacing them with glass ones, and smoothed her skin with a paste made from wax and silk.

As her hair naturally fell from her festering scalp, he collected the strands, using it make a wig.

But in what was by far the most chilling ‘modification’, he inserted a cardboard tube in her privates so he could have sex with her.

He stuffed her inwards and breasts with rags to keep her shape, and dressed her in a white bridal gown.

Then he laid her in his bed where she would remain for almost a decade – until she was discovered by chance by her horrified sister.

Tanzler was arrested, but the statute of limitations had run out on his crime of grave robbing, so he was set free.

Incredibly, public opinion at the time pitied him and regarded his actions as those of a lovelorn romantic, rather than a necrophile pervert.

A free man, he asked for Elena to be returned to him, but instead authorities placed her in a local funeral home where 7,000 people went to gawp at her remains.

Eventually she was reburied in an unmarked grave, her body encased in cement to keep the creepy doctor from digging her up interfering with her body again.

Tanzler moved to a different part of Florida where he sold postcards of his macabre missus, and would go on to write a book about their relationship, The Secret of Elena’s Tomb.

When he died from suspected suicide in 1952 he was rumoured to have been found in a room holding a large doll wearing Elena’s death mask.

But some believed it wasn’t a doll at all, and that the warped doc had pulled off a swap that brought poor Elena into his arms once more.

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