Connecticut ‘Vampire’ Bones Found 30 Years Ago Yield DNA Results
DNA researchers have studied the bones of a suspected Connecticut vampire that died around 200 years ago. According to The Register Citizen, they even think they have figured out his probable name -- John Barber.
The man's bones were discovered inside a coffin that was unearthed in Griswold, Connecticut back in 1990. The first phase of DNA test results were revealed in a presentation at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland on July 23.
The researchers say the man was likely a farmer with an arthritic knee, which caused a limp. He had a broken collar bone that never healed, he was missing his front teeth and he died of tuberculosis. They say his coffin had a carving on it that read "JB 55." They believe that JB were his initials and 55 was his age when he died. So how was a 55-year-old farmer with a limp considered to be a vampire?
Back in the late 1700s and early 1800s, there was a vampire scare in New England. What we call tuberculosis used to be called "consumption." Those who suffered from T.B. were considered vampires because of the havoc the contagious disease would cause. "Consumption" would cause a bloody cough. People who had the terrifying disease would often have blood in the corners of their mouth and be pale. It was believed that even after people died of TB, their graves were infected.
The DNA researchers say that John Barber's own family even dug up his grave long after his death with the intent of burning his heart. When they did this, they realized the heart had already decomposed. In an effort to prevent him from "stalking" them, they even rearranged his bones placing his head on top of his ribs in a "skull and cross bones" configuration.
The DNA research was all an effort to establish who the man was and they believe they have done that. It was never to determine whether the man was actually a vampire -- he was not, he was just a very sick man.
I really wanted there to be an eerie, scary explanation for why folks thought John Barber was a vampire. I wanted to read a story about a secret underground society, neck biting and ungodly rituals. This is not what I found and this is not what was revealed by the researchers. Instead, we find out John Barber was an overworked, sick farmer who died too young.
It's good to be alive now, don't you think? Back in John Barber's time, if you were weird or, God forbid, got sick they thought you were a literal monster. People thought you were a witch or a vampire -- that sounds like a bag of laughs.