Love After Death: The Story Of Carl Tanzler And Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos

By | October 13, 2019

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Carl Tanzler and his beloved. Source: (

Traditional wedding vows usually contain phrases such as “until death do us part” or “as long as we both shall live,” but for a deranged doctor named Carl Tanzler that wasn’t good enough. His love for his patient, Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos, was so strong that he could not let her go, even after she died.

His full name was Georg Karl Tanzler and he was born in Dresden, Germany, on February 8, 1877. According to Tanzler, it was during his childhood that he first became aware of his beloved. He claimed to have been visited by the spirit of a deceased relative, who revealed the face of his one true love. It would be years later before he would meet the real Elena. First, he had to travel the world, spending most of World War I in an internment camp in Australia.  

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Count Carl Tanzler von Cosel at his building on Flagler Av. C 1940. From the DeWolfe and Wood Collection in the Otto Hirzel Scrapbook Source: (Wikimedia Commons)

Having reached his forties without meeting his fated lover, Tanzler married a woman named Doris Shafer instead and had two daughters with her. He eventually left them and traveled to the United States in 1926 where, after a brief stop in Cuba, he lived in Zephyrhills, Florida. His wife and daughters joined him in Florida only to have him leave them again, this time to Key West, Florida, less than a year later. It was while working at a U.S. Marine hospital in Key West as a radiological technician under the name Carl von Cosel that he finally met the real Elena.