THE BASEMENT’S CABINET OF CURIOSITIES: The Vampire Skull

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As covered here before, Rhode Island was a hot bed of supposed vampire activity from the late 1700s all the way up to the late 1800s. I covered the cases of Mercy Brown and Sarah Tillinghast in previous blogs and in all cases, consumption, now known as tuberculosis, was thought to be the real cause. But what about the unbelievable case of the vampiric skull found in the late 1940s?

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Richmond, Rhode Island, which is on the border of Exeter, where the above two stories originated, is the location of our story. Though built up more now than it was when this happened, the area is still heavily wooded, as it was when this unreal discovery was made.

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Two boys were playing in the woods and came across what looked like a human skull partially buried in the leaves. There were also other bones scattered around but it was the appearance of the skull that genuinely terrified them.

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As boys will, they immediately picked up the skull to play with and after a quick glance, dropped the skull in terror. The skull appeared very old and had canine teeth that were much longer than would be expected on a normal human skull.

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In addition, the two pairs of front incisors on the top of the mouth were pointed as well, and upon forensic examination, no indication of “filing down” was found. The third “deformity” was the ridge over the orbital sockets that gave the skull an angry, or evil appearance.

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The boys ran back home and brought their father to the site of the discovery. Upon seeing it, he immediately contacted the local police and was visibly shaken when they arrived. He stated, “I can’t believe that thing is real!” They ruled out foul play at the source of the bones as all of the bones appeared very old. There was no indication of a historic cemetery and the bones were then brought to the local coroner for examination.

The bones that were found included many ribs, a shoulder blade, most of the right arm and part of the pelvis and spinal column. No legs, hands or feet were found and the assumption was that years of weather, or perhaps predatory animals, had dispersed the missing parts.

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With carbon dating still in its infancy at this time, the age of the skull was approximated to be from the early 1800s. Though no stake was found at the site, two of the ribs and the left hand side of the spinal column exhibited striations that would go along with a staking, either by hard wood or something metal.

In recent years, other skeletons have been uncovered showing signs of vampirism. Some still had a wooden stake in place, others were beheaded with the head put between the legs before burial and still others had a brick jammed into their mouths, perhaps to prevent them from rising again and biting someone.

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In 2019, in Bulgaria, over one hundred graves were uncovered, many of which had been staked by a two pound iron rod, in an ancient city known as Thracian. The skulls had also been crushed, probably after death.

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In 2013, a chilling discovery was made in Poland. Construction workers building a road discovered four skeletons that were all buried in the same way, with their heads cut off and placed either between the hands or the knees. The thought was that if the skull was separated from the neck that the vampire would be unable to rise again.

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These discoveries could explain the absence of hands, feet and legs. If a vampire were to rise again, it would certainly need these things to exist. Though the bones found in Poland included the skull with the rest of the body, there were also other cases where the skull was never found, but a stake was evident between the ribs on the left hand side.

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This fantastic story gets even better. After the bones were examined they went into storage, only to disappear many years later. As technology advanced, more tests were needed to be done. Though the box was found that stored the remains, nothing remained inside. There are no records indicating that the bones were moved. Perhaps they were stolen, buried as a John Doe or…who knows?

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Though the story is far-fetched, pictures do not lie (or do they?). The owner of the pictures, who is the son of the original police officer who came to the site of the discovery, brought them to my attention after reading my blogs on Rhode Island vampires. He said that his father was obsessed with finding out the truth behind these implausible bones. He kept the pictures hoping to re-open the case but when the actual bones disappeared, he gave up hope of ever discovering the truth. I guess we will have to as well.

If you would like to read the other blogs in my Cabinet Of Curiosities series, please click HERE.

~David Albaugh

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