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A hell of a way to make a living

Do you remember that crappy TV show, The Six Million Dollar Man? Lee Majors? Yes, it was crappy, don't send me mail. In 1976, they were filming an episode of aforementioned crappy show in the funhouse at the Nu-Pike Amusement park in Long Beach, California. While arranging things to look best in the shots, someone adjusted a dummy which hung from a noose and accidently broke it's lower arm off. When they got some glue to stick it back on, they saw that there was what looked like a real bone and joint sticking out of it.

The coroner took a look at the thing and found it was actually the strangely mummified remains of a male between 30-40 years old and it had actually been embalmed using an arsenic technique, which wasn't really used after the 1920's. It's internal organs still sitting there, petrified. Scars indicated an autopsy had been done somewhere along the way. A bullet wound was found, the trajectory still visible through all the bones and organs inside. Although the bullet had been removed, the half-copper jacket was still in the body; a type made from in the early 1900's. A 1924 penny and some old tickets stubs was found stuffed down the Dead Guy's throat. More than enough clues to figure out who this man was. One of the ticket stubs read "Louis Sonney's Museum of Crime, 521 S. Main street, Los Angeles". The museum was long gone, but the police found the former owner's son who told them that his dad bought the embalmed body of Elmer McCurdy, who had been an outlaw in Oklahoma and charged folks a quarter to see it.

Research confirmed there was indeed an Elmer. He had been a safecracker, killer, thief, prison escapee from the Oklahoma Territorial Pen. He was killed in a gun battle with deputies after botching a train robbery in Kansas. Elmer body was taken to a funeral home, where it was embalmed, but laid around for years, unclaimed. Some enterprising people must have had the idea to exhibit him and so showed up claiming to be relatives. They took the body and it was shown as an oddity in all over the West and South, ending up the property of Louis Sonney. When he died, his son sold the exhibits in 1971 to the Hollywood wax museum, who said Ol' Elmer wasn't life-like enough to keep around. They sold it to the Nu-Pike Amusement Park. And there hung Elmer until his arm was broken off, thought to be a fiberglass or paper mache dummy.

When the autorites in Oklahoma were told of the find, they sent someone out with Elmer's old records and mug shots and sure enough, it was Elmer. He's buried at the Summit View Cemetery in Guthie, Oklahoma. With his arm.

Regular Elmer

Dead Elmer, looking much cuter

From "Death in Paradise: An Illustrated History of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner"
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