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Now, back in those days they had backyard burial plots and did not drain the body of its fluids. They simply prepared a proper coffin and committed the body (in its coffin) to its permanent resting place. Throughout this process, my great-great grandfather protested so fiercely that he had to be sedated and put to bed. His wife was buried and that was that.
That night he woke to a horrific vision of his wife hysterically trying to scratch her way out of the coffin. He phoned the doctor immediately and begged to have his wife's body exhumed. The doctor refused, but my great-great grandfather had this nightmare every night for a week, each time frantically begging to have his wife removed from the grave.
Finally the doctor gave in and, together with local authorities, exhumed the body. The coffin was pried open and to everyone's horror and amazement, my great-great grandmother's nails were bent back and there were obvious scratches on the inside of the coffin.
An American scientist revealed in 1982 that the bokor used a slow acting poison to paralyse his victims. The zombie-like state is created by a substance that contains tetrodotoxin, a chemical which lowers a person’s metabolic rate to the point where he appears to be dead.
Once buried, the victim often does die from the poison or from suffocation. If he is still alive when the bokor reaches him, he will be forced to eat a mysterious paste containing a powerful psychoactive substance such as datura stramonium – known as the zombie cucumber.
This causes memory loss and disorientation. The new zombie will soon become a submissive slave to his master the bokor.
According to one such rumor, a local woman was buried, but her daughter insisted that her mother was still alive. When the mother’s grave was dug up, the exhumed body was reportedly in a different position than when it was originally laid to rest.
A 35-year-old male from Bosque was also supposedly buried alive during the epidemic. While digging a grave for another flu victim, the Bosque man’s coffin was accidentally dislodged. The grave diggers opened the disturbed coffin to find the confined body in a contorted, belly-down position, indicating that the poor man had suffocated after burial had taken place.
A Las Vegas (east of Santa Fe) family, the Gardunos, all fell ill with influenza. Mrs. Clara Garduno succumbed to the disease first, and was soon pronounced dead. Health Department officials demanded that she be buried immediately to prevent the spread of the disease, and her husband secured the services of an undertaker.