The Bank Robber Whose Mummified Body Ended Up In An Amusement Park

Samuel Reason | August 1st, 2019

Elmer J Curdy was a bank robber who operated during the early 1900s all around the United States of America. He was famous for using nitroglycerin during his robberies, though he never did figure out the correct amount to use which caused most of his robberies to be completely bungled affairs.

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The illegitimate child of a fling where his mother never did know who his father was, caused Elmer to be a very unruly and rebellious kid. Apparently from an early teenager age was heavily drinking, which led to alcoholism throughout his life. For a time he did work steadily as a plumber and it seemed he was happy with his life, however, after losing his job to economic turmoil during the 1898 everything took a turn for the worse. After this point, Elmer’s drinking increased heavily and he could not hold down a job, just drifting along the Eastern States. Until he joined the army in 1907, where he was trained on how to use nitroglycerin for demolition purposes, though many debate the extent of his training.

After honorably discharged from the army he entered the life of crime, trying to rob banks and trains. Unfortunately, when using nitroglycerin to blow up safes, he would generally use too much. This resulted in the silver or gold being melted to the safe, meaning his robberies always returned much less than he expected. Elmer is famous for the smallest train robbery in history, where he got away with only $45.

In 1911, he was shot dead by a couple of sheriffs near Okesa, Oklahoma who had tracked him down after a train robbery. He decided to not give up and shoot it out with the sheriffs which gave him the nickname “The Bandit Who Wouldn’t Give Up.” You see his body was unclaimed so the funeral home refused to bury him without being paid for his services, this led to him putting the body on display and charging people to see the bandit. Which was why his body was waxed and conserved, it ended up changing hands and being displayed on several shows, eventually getting lost in the era of time.

In 1976 a production crew was filming an episode at The Pike, an amusement park when a prop man moved what was thought to be a wax mannequin. Suddenly the mannequin’s arm broke off and it was visibly human bone and tissue! Elmer had been rediscovered.

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