Sunday, December 9, 2012

1912 - Thieves Desecrate Duchess's Body

New York Tribune
December 9 1912

THREE COFFINS OPENED
-------
Thieves Mutilated Duchess's Body 
to Get Earrings

London, Dec. 9--The monumental Basilica of Superga, near Turin, was desecrated on Saturday night by a gang of thieves intent on rifling the body of the Dowager Duchess Elizabeth of Genoa, grandmother of the King of Italy, buried in August last. The crime evidently had been carefully planned, the miscreants having taken the precaution to cut all telephonic and telegraphic communication with Turin and the neighboring hamlets, while the entrances from the basilica to the royal crypt were stoutly barred with iron from the inside to prevent any surprise.

The gang had obtained the information that the Duchess Elizabeth had been laid to rest in a niche wearing her favorite pearl necklace and a pair of earrings.  They set to work to wrench open one after another the three coffins of walnut, zinc and lead enclosing the body, using acids to melt the metal.

On securing the desired booty they got clear away, apparently without leaving any trace of their identity.  The sacrilege was discovered by the sacristan after he had opened the royal basilica for mass.  Queen Margherita and the Duke of Genoa were immediately telegraphed for and strict instructions were issued from Rome to track down the perpetrators of the outrage at all costs.

It is stated that the ghouls wrenched the earrings from the dead woman's ears.

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