In the 1800’s a man named Ephraim Gray lived in Malden,
Massachusettes where he lived as a recluse with his male servant.
His male servant handled all the shopping and interactions with the
residents. As is the case with most towns, the residents wondered
what the elusive Gray did with his time and what the horrible odor
was that constantly emanated from his home. For years, Gray remained
shut away in his home until sometime in 1850 when his male servant
made a lonely trip to the Malden Police Department to report the
death of his employer.
It is recorded that Mr. Gray died peacefully in his sleep. Having no
family of his own, Mr. Gray left everything to his servant on the
condition that his body was not embalmed or treated. Eager to
receive the large estate from his employer the servant kept Gray’s
wishes. In the will, it is said that Mr. Gray indicated he would
leave a secret formula to his servant that will enable the dead to
return to life and in their own perfectly preserved body.
The residents had finally discovered the reason behind the horrible
smell. However, this did not help when years later some Harvard
Medical Students stole into the Malden Cemetery to examine Mr. Gray’s
body and put to rest the rumors of his perfectly preserved body.
Upon breaking the seal of the tomb and gazing up the body of Mr.
Gray, the medical students were stunned. There in the coffin lay
Ephraim perfectly preserved with just a little bit of wetness about
his body. There was no decay or degeneration of the body. The
students resealed the coffin and left.
In the early 1900’s the Malden Cemetery was relocated. The work of
moving the tombs and graves went well until the workers unsealed the
tomb of one Ephraim Gray. The tomb was empty! Where had Ephraim
Gray gone? Did the medical students steal his body for research?
Grave robbers? Or did Ephraim awake from his sleep and leave his
resting place in search of something or someone?
It is safe to say that Ephraim was indeed experimenting with
preserving his body. The mixture of chemicals would have caused the
horrible smell. Many have experimented with the preservation of
bodies like the Egyptians. For some they just want to preserve those
that are very dear to them. Rosalia, the Sleeping Beauty of Palermo,
is one whose family entered her into the Palermo catacombs in 1920.
To this day, the young girl appears to be sleeping. Then there is
St. Bernadette Soubivous of Lourdes, France who died in 1879 and
because of her preserved body among other attributes has received
sainthood. It is certain that the manner in which their bodies were
treated after death kept them from decaying as is possibly the case
with Ephraim Gray.
Is it possible that Ephraim could have wakened from a deep sleep and
walked away unnoticed? There have been cases where people have
slipped into a coma and wakened years later. Of course there are
problems with this theory. Although, the medical students could have
wakened Ephraim with their examination and he left shortly after but
then the tomb was still sealed years later. Where is Ephraim? How
did he get out? Ephraim reminds me of the moving coffins of Barbados
where coffins were constantly being thrown about within a sealed
tomb. Apparently, Ephraim knew the secret of escaping the tomb where<>the deceased in Barbados didn’t.>