Greatest Hits: Well-traveled Bodies
In the winter of nineteen seventy six the six million dollar man. Tv show was filming in a haunted house in Long Beach. California when a crew member went to move a garish looking dummy to a different spot. The dummies arm broke off at the elbow. It was then that the crew member noticed the end of a human bone. Sticking out of the truncated limb. This wasn't a mannequin. This was elmer mccurdy a career criminal who died sixty five years earlier in Oklahoma. My Name's Moxy. And this is your brain on facts as forensic science slash true crime slash weird history buff of the first order. I almost didn't include mccurdy in today's episode of well-traveled corpses. Because his story makes all of these lists. But you know me. I like to be thorough. Elmer mccurdy was born January. First eighteen eighty two an unwed mother and adopted by his uncle and aunt. The first twenty years of his life were fairly unremarkable until a string of personal losses led him to say screw it. I'm ago Robson. Trains a brief stint in the army. Seen him trained to use nitroglycerine for demolition and he decided to blend the two careers the trouble was he tended to be heavy handed with the explosives once costing his gang ninety percent of the money in a safe he blew their remaining ten percent that they did get was in coins. That were melted together. Mccurdy's final robbery took place on October. Fourth Nineteen Eleven Niro Keys Oklahoma. When mccurdy and his men mistakenly stopped a passenger train instead of the one carrying four hundred thousand dollars that they were after the men were only able to steal about forty six dollars from the mail clerk some whiskey a pistol and the train conductors. Watch a newspaper account of the robbery called it quote. One of the smallest in the history of train robbery even still a two thousand dollar bounty was put on mccurdy and someone gave him up in the wee hours of October seventh. Apostasy of sheriff's tracked mccurdy to a Hacia using bloodhounds. Gunfire was exchanged for over an hour and in the end. Mccurdy was shot in the chest and killed mccurdy. Spotty was subsequently taken to the Johnson funeral home in Husk Oklahoma where it went on claimed Joseph Johnson the owner and undertaker embalmed body with an arsenic based preservative and stored it in the back of the funeral home refusing to bury the body or release it until he had been paid for his services. Johnson then decided if he was going to get any money out of this situation. He'd have to be more proactive. He dressed the corpse up in street. Clothes place to rifle and mccurdy's hands and stood up in the corner of the funeral home for a nickel apiece. Visitors could see the bandit who wouldn't give up. Mccurdy became a popular attraction at the funeral home and also drew the attention of carnival. Promoters though Johnson refused numerous offers to buy the mummified body in nineteen sixteen a man claiming to be elmer mccurdy's long lost brother got permission from the sheriff to take custody of the body and ship it to San Francisco for a proper burial. The following day Johnson released the body to this man and an accomplice who then put it on a train bound for Arkansas City Kansas. Then were in fact. James and Charles Patterson owners of the Great Patterson Carnival shows where mccurdy's corpse would be featured until nineteen twenty two when Paterson sold his operation to Louis. Sonny Sonny use mccurdy's corpse in his Traveling Museum of crime show which featured wax replicas famous outlaws such as Bill Doolan and Jesse James in Nineteen Twenty eight. The corpse was part of the official sideshow that accompanied the Trans American footrace. In thirty three it was acquired for a time. By director Duane Esper- to promote his exploitation film narcotic with an exclamation point in a very William Castle style move. The corpse was placed in the lobby of the theater as a dead dope. Fiend by this time some twenty two years after death mccurdy's body had become fide. The skin was hard and the body had shriveled to the size of a child. Esperer claims that this deterioration was proof of the danger of drunks. Mccurdy's corpse would bounce between warehouses and movie sets for the next four decades damage from mishandling. Meant that the corpse was no longer all that lifelike which is how it found. Its Way to the left in the dark funhouse at the Pike in Long Beach. After it was discovered that he wasn't a mannequin mccurdy was sent to the La Coroner by this time. The body was essentially petrified and had been covered in wax and layers of paint. It weighed about fifty pounds or twenty three kilos and was sixty three inches or one hundred sixty centimeters tall. Some hair was still visible on the sides. And back of the head but mccurdy's ears big toes and many of his fingers. Were missing of all the clues that lead the coroner and accompanying historians to determine the mummy's identity. The most interesting was found in the courteous mouth. It had nothing to do with. His teeth was a nineteen twenty. Four penny and ticket stops to the one forty West Pike side show and the Louis Sunny Museum of crime. The discovery made national headlines and an actual distant relative came forward to claim mccurdy's body which was buried on April twenty second nineteen seventy seven in the boot hill section of the summit new cemetery in Guthrie Oklahoma next to the actual body of outlaw. Bill Doolan two feet of concrete were poured on top of the coffin to ensure that mccurdy's rambling days for over mccurdy. Hardly the only outlaw turned famous. Mummy take the case of one. Hazel Farris born in Kentucky in eighteen eighty orphaned as a child and later married to a man with whom she drank heavily and fought loudly. Her history is morphed into folklore but by all accounts on August Sixth Nineteen Five. The couple had an argument over Paris's desire to buy a new hat. If you've been in a relationship for any length of time you know that wasn't really what they were fighting about. The two came to blows and Farris ended up shooting. Her husband who died on the living room floor. Neighbors heard the gunshots summoned police. The situation did not improve upon their arrival because fairus shot and killed them to a passing. Deputy Sheriff heard. The Commotion Gained Entry. To the House and tried to restrain Farris during the scuffle. The deputy tripped on Ferris's husband's body accidentally firing his gun and shooting off. One of her fingers there is eventually broke free and fatally shot the deputy as well so she shot the sheriff and she did shoot the deputy with five murders under her belt and a five hundred dollar reward for her capture which I couldn't put into modern figures because the inflation calculators don't go back that far fairus fled to Bessemer Alabama to try to begin a new life. One version of her story has her posing as schoolmarm another as her working as a prostitute. Both agree that she drank excessively she took up with a new man and when they became engaged fairus confided in. Him who she really was. He immediately gave her up to police on December twentieth. Nineteen O six fairly certain. She wouldn't emerge victorious from a second shootout. He sulfurous committed suicide by drinking combination of Whiskey fuel. Oil and Arsenic Ferris's body was taken to Adams vermillion furniture which also sold caskets and as such functioned as the local funeral parlour. No one came forward to claim her body which was strangely mummifying rather than decomposing. There is speculation that it's because of the chemicals Ferris drink but I don't put a great deal of stock by that regardless of the reason the corpse had longevity and a certain renown Adams began charging curious visitors ten cents to see the notorious outlaw. After a time Ferris's body hit the road. When atoms loaned the corpse to various exhibitors including his brother and Tuscaloosa Palace of wonders sideshow operator Captain Harvey Leabeau's well and OC Brooks who featured the well preserved remains in his traveling show for forty years when he died brooks left Hazel to a nephew on the condition that any money raised from displaying her be donated to charity. As the story goes Brooks's nephew displayed. Ferris's mummy to raise money to build churches in Tennessee.