True Stories Of People Being Buried Alive

Believe it or not, being buried alive happens more than one would think. In earlier days of medicine it was much more difficult to determine if someone was actually dead, or just in a coma, emaciated, or paralyzed.

Even with todays technology we haven’t rid the humanity of this horrible experience quite yet. The threat of being buried alive is a valid concern, as some of these stories point out. Especially if you suffer from taphephobia; the fear of being buried alive.

Octavia Smith Hatcher

In 1889, Octavia married a wealthy man named James Hather and the newlyweds had a son named Jacob. However, Jacob did in infancy.

Losing her son put Octavia in a deep depression, and she was bedridden for several months. During this time, she also began showing signs of a mysterious illness.

Eventually, her body entered a coma-like state, and nobody could awaken her. She was pronounced dead in May of 1891 – just four months after Jacob’s death.

It was an unusually hot May that year, and so Octavia was buried quickly (Embalming was not yet common practice). But a few days later, others in the town began falling into a similar coma-like sleep with shallow breathing patterns – only to awaken a few days later. They discovered it was an illness caused by the bite of the tsetse fly.

Fearing that she had been buried alive, James panicked and had Octavia exhumed, thinking she might awaken. She had, but James was too late. Octavia’s coffin was air-tight. He found the coffin lining had been shredded and Octavia’s fingernails were bloody. On her face was frozen a contorted shriek of terror.

A traumatized James re-buried Octavia and erected a lifelike monument of her that sits in the cemetery she rests in.

Stephen Small

One night in 1987, a 39-year-old man, Stephen Small was called out to one of his renovation projects. Not realizing he was being lured into his own abduction.

His wife, Nancy Small, received a call informing her that the ransom on her husband was $1 million. She was willing to comply but the messages were of poor sound quality.

During this time Stephen was placed in a homemade wood box three feet underground. His abductors provided him with a flimsy breathing tube and some water, suggesting that they would let him go if they received the ransom. But Stephan’s breathing tube failed.

When police finally used their air patrol to find Smalls’ vehicle, it was too late. They couldn’t pinpoint how long he’d been inside the box, but they did deduct that he’d been dead for several hours.

His abductors, Daniel J. Edwards, 30, and Nancy Rish, 26, were convicted of first-degree murder and aggravated kidnapping.

Jessica Lunsford

One of the saddest stories is that of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford. Who was kidnapped and raped in March of 2005 by sex-offender John Couey. Thinking she was dead he buried the girl, bound in speaker wire, in a trash bag near her home in Homosassa, Florida.

The only thing is, Jessica wasn’t dead when Couey put her in the bag. Heartbreakingly, nobody discovered the girl’s burial site, hidden under some leaves, until three weeks later.

The medical examiner ruled that Jessica died of asphyxiation and that she’d managed to poke two holes in the trash bag before she ran out of oxygen. Her fingers were sticking out of the holes when they uncovered the bag. Buried inside with Jessica was her favorite stuffed animal” a purple dolphin Couey let her bring along when he abducted her.

As much of a gut-punch as this story is, we can take some solace in where this landed Couey. He was caught, prosecuted, and sentenced to death – though he didn’t live to see his execution. Couey died of cancer in prison.

Anna Hockwalt

A young lady by the name of Anna Hockwalt was dressing for her brother’s wedding and sat down to rest in the kitchen. When someone checked in on her a few minutes later, she was still there, her head leaning against the wall and apparently lifeless.

Medical aid arrived, and the doctor assumed she was dead when he couldn’t revive her. Anna’s generally nervous nature and the fact that she suffered from heart palpitations was the cause of death. However, this assumption didn’t sit well with some of Anna’s friends, who thought her ears still looked pink as though blood was flowing through them.

Anna was buried the next day, and her friends told her parents of their earlier observation. Of course, this perplexed her parents to the point of having her dug back up. They found the worst-case scenario: Anna’s body was turned onto its side, fingers gnawed almost to the bone, and hair torn out by the handful.

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