Saturday, June 20, 2009

KY Civil War Corpse in NM Man's Living Room

Fort Craig was an Army fort near the Rio Grande in Socorro County, New Mexico. It played an important part of the Civil War and the Indian Wars before its closure in 1885.

With no grave markers and the cemetery plot map lost, most people had completely forgotten that Fort Craig had a cemetery containing about sixty graves - mostly soldiers and family members. According to this article, it had actually been erroneously assumed that the Army had long since transplanted those graves elsewhere. They had not.

In November 2004, authorities were tipped off that a man named Dee Brecheisen was keeping a mummified soldier's corpse, stolen from Fort Craig, on display in his living room. Unfortunately, Mr. Brecheisen dropped dead himself before the Federal investigators could get to the bottom of the whole mess.

As it turns out, the soldier who was on display at Brecheisen's home was Private Thomas Smith, a 23-year-old farmer from Butler County, Kentucky.

Some of the remaining corpses and other items grave-robbed by Brecheisen are still being assessed and investigators are trying to track down relatives. Most of the bodies are currently stored at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

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