THE UNREPENTANT NECROPHILE (MF, nec)
An Interview with Karen Greenlee
By Jim Morton (address unknown)
Karen Greenlee is a necrophiliac. Five years ago she made
national headlines when she drove off in a hearse and
wasn't heard from for two days. Instead of delivering the
body to the cemetery she decided to spend some time alone
with the corpse. Eventually, the police found her in the
next county, overdosed on codeine Tylenol.
She was charged with illegally driving a hearse and
interfering with the burial (there is no law in
California against necrophilia). In the casket with the
body Karen left a four-and-a-half page letter confessing
to amorous episodes with between twenty to forty dead
The letter was filled with remorse over her sexual
desires: "Why do I do it? Why? Why? Fear of love,
relationships. No romance ever hurt like this... It's the
pits. I'm a morgue rat. This is my rathole, perhaps my
The letter proved to be her downfall. For stealing the
body and the hearse, she got eleven days in jail, a $255
fine, and was placed on two years probation with medical
treatment recommended. Meanwhile, the mother of the dead
man sued, claiming the incident scarred her psyche. She
asked for $1 million, but settled for $117, 000 in
general and punitive damages.
The press had a field day, the lawyers got rich, and
Karen lost her career and source of sexual satisfaction.
Karen is now more comfortable with her sexuality.
"When I wrote that letter I was still listening to
society. Everyone said necrophilia was wrong, so I must
be doing something wrong. But the more people tried to
convince me I was crazy, the more sure of my desires I
The following interview was held in Karen's apartment, a
small studio filled with books, necrophilic drawings and
Back during the trial, from what I read in the
newspapers, it seemed like you got very little support.
No, none whatsoever. The newspapers were the worst. To
this day I hate reporters. One of them even compared me
to Richard Trenton Chase, "The Vampire Killer!" What
support there was, was like family obligations. One of my
brothers refused to have anything to do with me. He said,
"I just want to remember her as she was." He came up to
me later and apologized, but he still isn't comfortable
around me. My other brother was more supportive, but even
he had to ask, "How'd you do it?"
Before the trial I had a boyfriend who found out abut it.
He got mad and slapped me around. He said I wasn't even a
woman and I could go fuck my dead bodies. I was
surprised. He knew! Apparently a lot of people knew and I
don't know how they knew.
With guys, they always felt I went for the bodies because
I was hard up, and if I went to bed with them then that
would change me and they would be the one who would give
me such satisfaction I wouldn't need those old corpses
anymore. I've run into that a lot. Sometimes I had guys
come on to me for just that reason.
** The question I am most often asked is, "How does she
Yes, that's the question! People ask questions like that-
- even people who seem pretty cool, seem to have open
minds-- then when you tell them, they say, "That's very
interesting," then don't want to have much to do with me.
I don't mind telling people how I do it. It doesn't
matter to me, but anyone adept sexually shouldn't have to
ask. People have this misconception that there has to be
penetration for sexual gratification, which is bull! The
most sensitive part of a woman is the front area anyway
and that is what needs to be stimulated.
Besides, there are different aspects of sexual
expression: touchy-feely, 69, even holding hands. That
body is just lying there, but it has what it takes to
make me happy. The cold, the aura of death, the smell of
death, the funereal surroundings, it all contributes.
** The smell of death?
Sure, I find the odor of death very erotic. There are
death odors and there are death odors. Now you get your
body that's been floating in the bay for two weeks, or a
burn victim, that doesn't attract me much, but a freshly
embalmed corpse is something else.
There is also this attraction to blood. When you're on
top of a body it tends to purge blood out of its mouth,
while you're making passionate love... You'd have to be
there, I guess.
** Of course, with all the AIDS going around ...
That's the reason I haven't tried anything lately. I'm
sure I'd have found a way to get into one of those
funeral homes by now, but the group I find attractive--
young men in their twenties-- are the ones who are dying
** Did you usually attend the funerals of your corpse-
Yeah. It was convenient working in the funeral homes. I'd
get to drive out to the cemetery with the family. I'd get
to mourn right along with the family at the loss of that
loved one. Except I was groaning in a little different
People can't really tell if you're grief stricken or
passion-stricken. I've had members of the families put
their arms around me and say, "We're so glad you could
come!" Then you have to spin this big old yarn, "Yeah, I
knew him in school...."
If the guy didn't have a girlfriend in life they think
you were ... "Oh, she's the one!"
** You weren't in Sacramento at the time of the trial,
No, I was working in a funeral home in another city and
going to school at the same time. It's weird, but the day
I got a telegram about the trial telling me to get in
touch with my attorney, I went in to the funeral home and
was fired for things I had done at that funeral home.
Somebody, I guess, got wise of me.
I know I wasn't seen, but I think somebody just figured
it out. Of course, they didn't know about Sacramento yet.
They found out later! The same day, within five hours of
each other, two totally different things caught up with
I worked in that funeral home for almost a year. That's
where I did a lot of my extracurricular activities. I had
keys so I'd slip back in after hours and spend all night
there. A guy lived at the funeral home in an apartment
downstairs. He drank so he usually passed out. He had a
.357 magnum under his pillow.
** The guy that court case was about-- John Mercure?
Yeah. I understand he was moved out of the cemetery after
That happened at the time I was breaking into this
funeral homes. There was a side room, one of those
arrangement areas, where they always have their case
folders out. I read there was an exhumation order for
Then I read something in the paper about it. His mother
wanted the body exhumed, said she wouldn't bury her cat
there. On the day he was suppose to be exhumed I snuck
out into a field across from where he was buried. I sat
out in the field and watched them dig up the body and
give him to this other mortician. They shipped him back
**When did you first become aware of your necrophilia?
It's something I've been attracted to all my life. I used
to hold funeral services for my pets when they died. Had
a little pet graveyard. I lived in a small town and the
fireman's barbecue was next door to the funeral home. To
go to the bathroom you had to use the facilities in the
funeral home. I'd find any excuse I could to go to the
bathroom, then I'd take side trips and wander around the
** It didn't scare you like the other kids?
No, I loved it! I was real curious. I'd wander around the
** Do you miss working in funeral homes?
Yes, terribly! Even if I wasn't a necrophile, I like
mortuary work. I enjoy embalming and everything. Except
for obese people. The bodies I hated working on most were
obese people, especially if they'd been autopsied. Their
guts would slide out on the floor and shit... and all
this melty fat. Yeeeech!
** You said something previously about "The Vampire
Killer," Richard Trenton Chase. He was from Sacramento,
Yeah, the second funeral home I worked for-- I wasn't
working there at the time-- got the bodies of Chase's
victims, a man and a woman and their child, so I hear the
gory details of what the bodies looked like. They were
really butchered. They were disemboweled with shit
stuffed in their mouths.
Chase started by killing animals and drinking their blood
and when he wasn't satisfied with that he graduated to
people. He killed this couple, then kidnapped their
child, killed it and later threw it in a trashcan. The
mortician who embalmed the bodies said he hardly ever got
queasy about anything, but he got sick when he saw those
** What's the weirdest case you ever encountered?
Hmmm... There was one kid who fell out of a car while his
mother was making a turn and she managed to run over his
head. Another kid choked to death on a cigarette wrapper.
One guy committed suicide by shooting himself in the head
with a pellet rifle. He had to shoot himself several
times and it took him a while to die, but he finally
succeeded. There was another guy I worked on. He was a
transvestite who somehow strangled himself with his
I don't think it was intentional, I think he was trying
to achieve heightened orgasm through strangulation and he
ended up hanging himself. He wouldn't be the first to
make that mistake.
** How about the most unusual funeral?
One time this bunch of religious fanatics held a funeral
for one of their members. They didn't want her embalmed,
they just wanted her dressed and in the casket. We
usually didn't do that, but we decided to be nice and put
her up in the stateroom.
We were standing outside of that stateroom and we heard
someone saying, "Rise in the name of Jesus!" They were
preying and slapping the body. They were talking in
tongues. That was weird!
** There seems to be a strong camaraderie between
morticians. Almost like a secret society.
Very much so. Morticians are very tight with each other
because most people won't have anything to do with them.
I used to find if I went to a party I'd always be
introduced like, "This is Karen and she's a mortician."
But they don't say, "Here's Karen-- she's a secretary,"
or "she's a veterinary assistant."
A lot of people are under the misconception that
morticians are very straight, very somber. If they ever
went back into the prep room and heard all the jokes that
are cracked it would blow that theory right out the
** One funeral director testified on behalf of funeral
practices. He was asked how often necrophilia occurs. He
said, "It's almost unheard of in this profession."
That's a major lie! Necrophilia is more prevalent than
most people imagine. Funeral homes just don't report it.
There was one place that I broke into, and I know that
they knew something was wrong. They actually caught me in
the act and let me get away.
At another place I was working, this guy came up to me
and said, "Someone's been messin' with the body. It looks
like they were trying to fuck the body!" I said, "Oh my
goodness! Really?" I think they figured it out later. I
know they know now.
One mortician I worked with used to like to a trocar [a
large hollow needle used to suction fluids from corpses]
and push it up inside any male cadaver's dick. He'd say,
"Oh look, the corpse has got a boner." This guy was
really weird. He looked like Larry of the Three Stooges.
I think he had some necrophilic tendencies.
He'd get real upset if there weren't any female bodies to
work on. He'd start pacing. I caught him one time in the
prep room. He said he was just taking a pee in the hopper
at the end of the table. He was just pulling up his pants
when I walked in. I said, "I won't tell if you don't."
** You say you were once caught in the act of necrophilia
Yeah. I had tried to kill myself and was living in a
halfway house a couple of blocks up from this funeral
home. I decided to go to the mausoleum and try and kill
The mausoleum had a door connecting it to the mortuary. I
was sitting in there, real depressed, when, just for the
hell of it, I decided to try running my driver's license
along the edge of the door and click! The door popped
open. I couldn't believe it, so I tried it again and the
door popped open again!
I went into the prep room and there happened to be a body
in there. I had me some fun, did my thing and forgot all
about killing myself. I told the folks at the halfway
house that I stayed the night with friends. I went in
there several times. Sometimes there were absolutely no
bodies, so I turned around and snuck back out. I usually
went in the back door.
About a week later I snuck back into the funeral home. I
was on the prep table having a good old time, when all of
a sudden I felt like there was somebody nearby.
Next thing, I heard people walking down the hallway. I
quietly jumped off the table and threw the sheet back
over the body. My clothes were in quite a state of
disarray, and I had blood on me and everything else-- it
had been an autopsy case. There was a casket with the lid
open in the side casket-room, so I ran and hid behind it.
The casket was on a church-truck so they couldn't see me,
but they could see my legs. It was a man and a woman.
They were standing there saying, "Who are you? What are
you doing here?" One of them said to the other, "You go
get the gun and call the cops and I'll stay down here."
I knew I only had one chance then, so I busted out and
ran. I knew the layout of the place, so I just ran down
the hall and out of the place and out of the cemetery.
At the time I still had a friend who worked at the
funeral home. He said, "Somebody broke into the funeral
home. They know it was you." They put in an alarm after
that. I think they called the police, but there were
never any charges. I'm sure they didn't want the
That was the last time I got very close, except for I've
broken into a few tombs.
** Have you seen any changes in people's attitudes
Yeah, when I came out here I noticed it. It's almost a
fad! They're not really necrophiles, but pseudo-
necrophiles. Like a death cult! But there are probably a
lot of people who would do it if they had the
Perhaps there is this vast network of necrophiles, who,
for lack of a forum, will never know of each other's
Well, there's Leilah [Wendell's] group [American
Association of Necrophilic Research and Enlightenment].
They try and get some information out about it.
** It must be frustrating when people say, "we have to
cure you," or "you've got to be more like us."
It is. For a while I found myself thinking, "Yeah, this
isn't normal. Why can't I be like other people. Why
doesn't the same pair of shoes fit me just right?" I went
through all that personal hell and finally I accepted
myself and realized that's just me. That's my nature and
I might as well enjoy it. I'm miserable when I try to be
something I'm not.
And too, a lot of these people who are putting me down
have hang-ups worse than I have, or they do things that
might be considered questionable by their peers. I had a
gay friend who, when he found out I was a necrophile,
said, "You can go to hell for that." After 1979, when I
was put on probation, part of the probation requirement
was that I seek therapy.
I had a really nice social worker. She was cool. Very
non-judgmental. The more I talked to these people, the
more I realized necrophilia makes sense for me. The
reason I was having a problem with it was because I
couldn't accept myself. I was still trying to live my
life by other people's standards. To accept it was peace.
These people who are always trying to change me only
helped me get myself more in touch with my feelings. I
used to go from the therapist's office to the funeral
It didn't work, folks!
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