The Strange History of Train Robber Elmer McCurdy’s Corpse

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WARNING: Some viewers may find the imagery below disturbing

Before he died, Elmer McCurdy was a known outlaw, robbing trains, earning a living through carnival shows, and working to become a part of Hollywood.

In 1911, McCurdy and his crew robbed the wrong train. The boys engaged in a shootout a few days after the robbery, with McCurdy swearing no one would take him alive. He was right–McCurdy wasn’t taken until he died following the shootout.


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His body was embalmed but went unclaimed for six months. His body remained preserved, and due to his storied life, the funeral home began to charge viewers five cents to see him in the flesh.

Five years later, McCurdy’s body was claimed by carnival promoters who said they were related to him. His body began to travel as a part of the show. His body eventually got confused with wax dummies. It wasn’t until the body began falling apart on the set of The Six Million Dollar Man in 1976 that people began to realize the dummy was actually a corpse.

Finally, in February 1977, McCurdy was given a proper funeral. The outlaw’s story lives on today, as McCurdy was the inspiration for Jonah Hex, a character in the DC Comics world.


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