DNA analysis helped identify the 19th century "Connecticut Vampire"

In 1990, on the outskirts of Griswold, Connecticut (USA), an unnamed 19th century cemetery, consisting of 27 graves, was discovered. The coffin with the inscription "JB55", embossed with brass nails, attracted the greatest interest. The posture and condition of the remains in it indicated that this person was buried according to the procedure for "protection from vampirism." Its purpose in those days was to prevent the deceased from returning to life in the form of a vampire.

The analysis of the remains showed that the deceased was sick with tuberculosis, which 200 years ago was called "consumption" and was considered a sign of vampirism. Partly because the patients had an extremely emaciated and sickly appearance, akin to "living corpses", partly because of the high, but inexplicable at that time infectiousness. As a result, it was believed that those who died from consumption become vampires, and can rise from their graves to infect other family members.

To counteract this, they used "preventive exhumation" - a few days after the burial, the body was removed and the signs of "life" were looked for in it. For example, liquid blood, a swollen belly, soft skin. And if they found it, they decapitated the corpse and burned the internal organs so that the corpse would not come to life, which they did with JB55. This was done out of "fear and love", since there was no other way to cope with consumption and protect the still living people.

DNA samples from JB55 were taken even then, almost 30 years ago, but in the absence of a database they remained unclaimed. It is only recently that researchers from the US National Museum of Health and Medicine have been able to trace its origins. DNA research led to the Barber family, and an 1826 newspaper contained an obituary addressed to Nathan Barber, son of John Barber of Griswold. One of the nearby graves bore the initials "NB13", and JB55 was 55 years old at the time of death. All indications are that the Connecticut vampire is John Barber. This study was the first of its kind when the identity of a participant in historical events was established by DNA analysis without using samples of his direct descendants, only by indirect signs.