Corpse of Thomas McGrath Thrice Buried in Identity Tangle, January 1926

Sisters and Brothers Identify Dead Man, But He Turns Up, Smiling, at His Own Funeral!

The name on the inside of his collar looked like "Mc-Grath" or "McGraw." Because the body had been in water a few hours, the name had been partially effaced.

The body lay in the Hertz Undertaking Parlors of Kankakee, Illinois, until restaurant employes of that city identified it as Jerry McGrath of Fowler, Indiana.

From Fowler came relatives of McGrath, looked at the body and argued among each other as to whether the dead man was really Jerry. The scars on his body looked like Jerry's, and the face was like Jerry's, but some of the sisters couldn't believe the dead derelict to be their brother.

After much argument, the body was taken to Fowler, a funeral arranged and a grave dug. But just as the body was being taken to the cemetery, a man walked up to the mourner's carriage. One sister screamed; another fainted.

"I heard I was having a funeral," said Jerry McGrath. "I really thought I ought to be there."

So, the body that had originally been buried in the potter's field, dug up for identification, sent to Fowler for a funeral, was sent back to Kankakee and reburied.

Before its first burial, the body had been recorded as an "Unknown" in the office of R. Don Bleau, Kankakee expert. Bleau had in his office the finger prints of the dead man, and for many months he tried to find the identity of the unknown man. Finally, the companion set was discovered in Washington, where they had been sent from Ionia, Michigan, and Greencastle, Indiana. And the dead man was not Jerry McGraw of Fowler, Indiana, but Thomas McGrath of Battle Creek, Michigan.

McGrath's relatives in Chicago were notified and they sent photographs of him which were said to be exactly like the man who had been thrice buried before he was identified.

1. "Corpse Thrice Buried In Queer Identity Tangle", Finger Print and Identification Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 7, January 1926, page 15.

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