The Importance Of Body Snatching

946 Words4 Pages
In the cloak of darkness, under the protection of snowfall, a team of medical students steal a corpse from its final resting place. Why? What motivation would a group medical students have for stealing a corpse? The reason being is that they are doing it in the name of science...and to further their medical education. The practice of body snatching is , which is as the title suggests, the stealing dead corpses from their grave and selling them. This practice, snatching bodies and selling them to medical research facilities or schools, was actually quite common. A gruesome practice to take up, but it wasn’t usually done for their own amusement, it was most often done to further anatomical studies. Grave robbing, wasn’t a new practice even…show more content…
When this was to discovered to be untrue, there was upset and a sudden new interest in human anatomical studies. Furthermore, the number of executions decreased during this time period, which was a large source of bodies for the medica community. A decrease in executions unfortunatley meant a decrease in the number of bodies readily available to dissect. In addition, the government seemed unwilling to provide anymore bodies. Each of these “factors” led to the medical education community being stuck in quite the paradox. Medical students needed to dissect to further their residency and get the medical license. However, their simply wasn’t enough bodies in ample supply for them to dissect, “As a confounded E.D. Worthington recalled of his student days in the 1830s, "By 'law' [the student] was bound to dissect, by 'law' he could be punished for dissecting. Strange inconsistency!"”(Rankin). Many times the people commiting the crime, were medical students. In their situation body snatching was a win-win; extra money for tuition and it furthered their education by giving them hands on…show more content…
Their “profession” was a seasonal one, due to the fact that their was no refrigeration, therefore grave robbing mostly took place in the winter months November through Febuary. This worked in grave robbers favor, “Evans noted in his journal that the best time to snatch bodies undetected was during a snowfall, for "the descending snow will obliterate the footmarks." ”, because the snow swept away their footprints. (Rankin). Also to evade persecution, they exhumed the bodies they stripped them down( to curtail any formal charges of robbery) and whisked them away. Any flowers or ornaments on the gravesite,were recorded, and put back in place after the body was exhumed to avoid detection. Body snatchers usually tended to avoid richer graves because those were the graves that could afford protective measures for their loved ones. The different protective measures included, “... the departed were buried in multiple coffins or in iron or lead coffins. Others sought to ward off resurrectionists by equipping their loved ones' graves with special alarms, adding layers of straw or other materials to the dirt... or
Open Document