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Scary Stories of People Who Were Buried Alive

May 15, 2023 People's Tonight 240 views

Jacob Shelton

Many people’s biggest fear is being buried alive, and it’s not hard to see why. You might think these are all historical tales of terror, but not all of the men and women on this list passed before the modern era. These stories are horrifying, so if this is your personal fear, you might want to steer clear.

Some unfortunate souls buried too soon make it out alive, but more often than not, premature burial ends exactly how you think it will. Just try to fall asleep after reading about people being buried alive.


• A Man Crawled Out Of His Own Grave

A woman visiting a family tomb in Ferraz de Vasconcelos, Brazil in 2013 witnessed a body emerging from a grave, waving its arms. After finally convincing the authorities to come to the cemetery, police rescued the man. They believed he was a former city hall worker who had been involved in a fight in another part of the city; presumably he passed out from his injuries and was taken to the graveyard.

• A Teenage Girl Was Entombed Too Early

In 2015, a 16-year-old Honduran girl named Neysi Perez was mistakenly buried alive. Her family reportedly heard screaming coming from inside her coffin and hurried to open it back up. Perez was rushed to the hospital, but she passed.

According to relatives, her body was still warm and she had bruises on her fingertips. The glass viewing pane on her coffin had been smashed as well. Doctors believe she had suffered a severe panic attack, which temporarily stopped her heart, resulting in the initial pronouncement of her death.

• A Woman Was Buried In The Courtyard Of Her Own Home

In 1991, Shakereh Khaleeli, the wealthy daughter of one of India’s more preeminent families, went missing. In May 1994, her skeletal remains were discovered by police in the courtyard of her own home. Her second husband had drugged her in her sleep, placed her on a mattress in a “coffin like box,” and covered it with another mattress.

One of Khaleeli’s hands was found clutching the mattress that lay below her. The side of the box appeared to bear scratch marks as well.

• A Woman Might Have Lost Her Fingers Trying To Escape Her Tomb

In 1893 a woman named Mrs. Boger suddenly died of unknown causes. Doctors confirmed her passing, and she was promptly buried.

A friend of Mrs. Boger’s told her husband, Charles, that his wife had suffered from hysteria before he had met her, and it was possible that she hadn’t actually been dead. So Mr. Boger dug up his wife and found Mrs. Boger’s body turned over. Her shroud and robes were shredded to pieces and the glass of her coffin lid was broken all over her body. Her skin was bloodied and scratched, while her fingers were missing entirely. It was presumed that she chewed them off while attempting to escape.

• A Kidnapped Heir Suffocated Underground

In 1987, an Illinois publishing and media heir named Stephen Small was kidnapped and buried alive in a makeshift wooden box near the town of Kankakee. His assailants, a 30-year-old man named Danny Edwards and his 26-year-old girlfriend, Nancy Rish, crafted a plan to abduct him and keep him immobile underground while asking for a $1 million ransom from his surviving family members. His kidnappers were able to provide the 39-year-old Mr. Small with minimal air, water, and light inside his homemade coffin via tubes, but he was left buried three feet under a sandy area and he suffocated after his breathing tube failed.

• A Man Was Buried In A Case Of Insurance Fraud

One day in 1937, Angelo Hays was riding his bike around France when he ran headfirst into a brick wall. He was declared dead on the spot before being quickly buried. In the nearby town of Bordeaux, an insurance company became suspicious after realizing that Angelo’s father had recently insured his son’s life for 200,000 francs, and an inspector was sent to investigate the claim. The inspector had Angelo’s body exhumed just two days after he had been buried to confirm the cause of death, and was shocked to discover that Angelo was still alive.

When the doctor removed the shroud, he found Angelo’s body warm and his heart barely beating. He was immediately taken to a hospital, where he endured several operations and extensive rehabilitation before making a full recovery and inventing the security coffin.

• A Man Beat His Head Against His Coffin In His Efforts To Be Heard

One fearful story of premature burial comes from a pamphlet entitled The Most Lamentable and Deplorable Accident. A London butcher named Lawrence Cawthorn fell fatally ill in 1661 and his landlady was eager for his swift demise so that she could inherit his belongings. She saw to it that he was quickly pronounced dead without a doctor’s consultation and buried at a nearby chapel.

Not long after his entombment, visitors and mourners heard screams and shrieks coming from the grave. When they dug him up he had passed, but Cawthorn’s shroud was completely shredded. His eyes were swollen and his head was bloodied from where he’d beaten it against the coffin.

• A Man Remained In His Coffin For Two Full Days

In 1993, a 24-year-old South African man named Sipho William Mdletshe and his fiancée were involved in a severe car accident. Although Sipho’s fiancée survived, Sipho was so badly injured that he was declared dead by responders following the accident. Afterwards, he was placed in a metal box for burial in the Johannesburg mortuary.

For two days and nights he remained in the box until he awoke in a confused daze and began to scream for help. Luckily, some of the workers at the morgue were around to let him out of the box, and he survived the whole ordeal.

• A Woman Pulled Her Hair Out In Her Coffin

On January 10, 1884, Anna Hockwalt of Dayton, OH went downstairs to the kitchen after dressing on the day of her brother’s wedding and was found “dead” shortly afterwards, sitting in a chair with her head leaning against the wall. The wedding went on and her death was determined to be the result of a sympathetic heart palpitation combined with her naturally nervous disposition.

Hockwalt was buried in Woodland, but her friends feared that she’d been buried alive because her ears bore a “remarkably natural color.”

They shared their suspicions with Hockwalt’s parents, who finally had her disinterred. When her coffin was opened, she was dead – but she was on her right side, her fingers chewed to the bone, and her hair pulled from her head.

• A Man Was Buried After A Three-Day ‘Trance State’

Wealthy New Yorker James Rigely was buried at Pendleton in February 1899 after being in a “trance state” for three days. He had taken out several life insurance policies, which prompted an autopsy request to ascertain his cause of death.

According to a local paper, “The glass covering the casket was broken and the distorted features of the corpse, the position of his hands and feet, together with a number of blood spots on his face, showed that he was buried alive.”

• A Woman’s Coffin Was Found With Scratch Marks Inside

In 1851, Virginia Macdonald lived with her father in New York City when she became ill, died, and was buried in Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn. After the burial, her mother declared her belief that their daughter had not actually perished. After exhuming the coffin, they discovered Virginia’s body lying on its side, with the hands badly bitten and scratches on the inside of the coffin.