A ‘vampire’s’ remains were found about 30 years ago. Now DNA is giving him new life.

He had been in his grave so long that when his family dug him up to burn his heart, the organ had decomposed and was not there.

Desperate to stop him from stalking them, they took his head and limbs and rearranged them on top of his ribs in the design of a skull and crossbones. He was a “vampire,” after all, and in rural New England in the early 1800s, this was how you dealt with them.

When they were finished, they reburied him in his stone-lined grave and replaced the wooden coffin lid, on which someone had used brass tacks to form the inscription “JB 55,” for his initials and his age.

Now, 200 years or so after the death of what has become the country’s best-studied “vampire,” DNA sleuths have tracked down his probable name: John Barber.

vampire
This skeleton, possibly of John Barber, is being studied at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. Barber was believed to be a vampire. In fact, he most likely had tuberculosis. (Michael E. Ruane/The Washington Post)

He was probably a hard-working farmer. Missing his top front teeth, he was no neck biter. He had a broken collar bone that had not healed right and an arthritic knee that may have made him limp, and he had died an awful death, probably from tuberculosis, which was so bad it had scarred his ribs.

The latest findings in a case that started in 1990 when his coffin was discovered in a gravel quarry in Griswold, Conn., are contained in a new report by, among others, experts at the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System’s DNA laboratory in Dover, Del.

Read More – A ‘vampire’s’ remains were found about 30 years ago. Now DNA is giving him new life. – The Washington Post

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