Necrophilia, or the act of engaging in sexual relations with corpses, has become the stuff of gruesome legend, due in part to serial killers such as Ed Gein, Gary Ridgeway, and Jeffrey Dahmer, and, to a lesser extent, because of films like Kissed, Nekromantik, and Nekromantik 2.
But while the practice is highly taboo in our society, real necrophiliacs (or necrophiles) are alive and among us. Are they the sick, twisted monsters we've seen in film and television, or are they just like the rest of us? This list will attempt to parse fiction from reality and examine the necrophilia facts, even quoting from some real life necrophiliacs. A difficult task, given the stigma attached to having sex with corpses. It’s tricky to have one hundred percent solid data on the people who believe that love is a dish best served cold. And due to the fact that some of the most popular necrophiliacs are also serial killers, our views on this subgroup of fetishists and paraphiliacs are somewhat skewed (to say the least).
It is neither the intent of this list to advocate for nor denounce necrophilia, but rather to examine the condition with objective curiosity. If you’re a necrophiliac and feel like you have something to add to the conversation, PLEASE leave us a comment.
If you're trying to have sex with a dead body, the smart move is to get a job close to the source—or at least that's the common assumption many people make. The idea was even tackled in the 1996 film Kissed, in which a young woman gains employment at a funeral home and begins exploring her necrophiliac tendencies.
Although in theory the notion makes sense, one person in the mortuary industry insists necrophilia happens quite rarely. Still, cases of mortuary or hospital employees engaging in necrophilia do crop up. Take Anthony Merino for example. He worked as a lab technician at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ, and the Overlook Hospital in Summit, N.J. before he was caught desecrating bodies in 2007.
According to mortician Caitlin Doughty, author and host of the web series Ask a Mortician, our picture of a lecherous mortician who can't wait to get his hands on a perfectly cold body is somewhat of a myth. While stories of nercrophiliacs working at mortuaries pop up from time to time, as mentioned above, for the most part they're just rumors.
This sentiment echoes the assertions of other industry professionals mentioned on this list. However, Doughty does state that it's totally cool to be interested in necrophilia because it's "grade A transgressive stuff."
Depending on what state you live in, engaging in sex with a corpse might be completely legal. As of 2016, necrophilia was not explicitly against the law in Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Vermont, and Wisconsin, among other states.
Though it should be noted that other laws exist that could land a necrophile in the slammer, as with Wisconsin, in which three young men were arrested for attempting to dig up a corpse, on the grounds they intended to engage in sex with "an unwilling partner." This case was eventually thrown out, with the judge ruling that corpses are not people, and therefore the question of consent was irrelevant, but this does not mean charges of a similar kind could not be brought up in other states without explicit laws against necrophilia.
Even in states with corpse desecration rules on the books, necrophilia is one tough nut to crack. On one hand, it's ostensibly gross and no one wants to talk about it. And on the other it's almost impossible to catch someone in the act, unless the would-be necrophile is participating in other illegal activities, such as grave robbing or, even worse, murder.
According to human rights lawyer Sarah Kay, the laws stem from old world religious notions. "Laws referring to necrophilia or mutilation of corpses are laws referring to principles of desecration. Desecration is tied to morality more than it is tied to sheer legal logic; it is an idea that somehow the respect and honor due to the body while it was alive perseveres in death."