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Michael Bell
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Posted By Michael Bell

The newspaper coverage of the exhumation in Winona, Minnesota, in 1922, was featured for a second day, revealing information unknown the previous day. Following is a continuation of these new revelations:

This morning, however, new developments, in the form of statements by local embalmers and cemetery caretakers, caused authorities to doubt certain parts of Bloch’s story, and this afternoon it was again decided to re-open the graves and learn exactly what had been done.

Mr. Bloch, who is 69 years old and a retired member of the Winona police force, confessed to Chief Riebau last night that he had been led to believe, by the repeated suggestions of superstitious friends, that if the head of his daughter, Frances, was cut off from the body, the powers of her spirit to “call” the spirits of other members of the family would be ended. Four of his five sons, he said, had already died since Frances’ death a little more than five years ago, and his fifth son, Frank, was then lying at death’s door.

On Dec. 27, he said, he and Kobus, whom he hired for a few dollars to assist him, went to the cemetery. The grave of the dead girl was opened. The rough box, he said, was in good condition, but the coffin within was decayed and fallen to pieces. Nothing remained of the girl’s body, he said, but the skeleton, and for this reason the grave was refilled, he declared, without mutilating the body.

“Frankie kept getting poorer and poorer,” Mr. Bloch went on. “We knew he was going the same way the others went, and so on Friday, the day before he died, Kobus and I went back. This time we opened Joseph’s grave. Joseph died about four years ago, but there was nothing left of him either but the skeleton. We filled the grave again without doing anything to the body, and the next morning Frankie died.”

“Was Just About Crazy”

Tears rolled down Mr. Bloch’s cheeks as he spoke, and at times his voice sank to a whisper.

“I was just about crazy,” he added, “and I was ready to try anything to stop all these deaths. They told us that maybe Mrs. Bloch or one of our four married daughters, still living, would be next. One of them is sick now. I didn’t know that it was wrong to open one of my own family graves. I’ll never believe anybody again.”

The statement made by Bloch, with which the opinions of local undertakers clash, was that to the effect that both bodies had been decomposed to such an extent that nothing but the bones remained.

Experts Give Opinions

O. P. Munson, sexton of Woodlawn cemetery, who has exhumed many bodies which have been interred for varying periods of time, stated this morning that he has never in his experience found a body which has been completely decomposed in a period of five years.

“The average body is in a fairly good state of preservation at the end of such a short time,” he declared. “It ordinarily requires from 10 to 12 years for decomposition to be so complete that nothing but bones remain. The location of the grave and the soil that surrounds it are factors to be considered, but on a hillside such as Woodlawn or St. Mary’s, it should take from 8 to 10 years at least.

George Hillyer, proprietor of Hillyer’s Furniture company and undertaking establishment, stated this morning that an ordinary body, with no embalming whatever, ought not to be completely decomposed within a period of five years.

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