In the early 1800s body-snatching was a common practice for some criminals. Stealing the corpse to sell for dissection or anatomy lectures in medical schools. But less than forty years ago in 1978, Charlie Chaplin—the British film star—was dug up and held for ransom.

Sir Charles Spencer “Charlie” Chaplin, was a comic actor, filmmaker, and composer. He was pioneer in the film industry from 1899 to 1976. Charlie preferred silent movies and hesitated to adopt the new technology of movies with sound. He is best remembered for his roles in which he carried a cane.

Charlie died of a stroke in 1978, he was 88.

Oona, his fourth wife and their children buried him in a cemetery near their home in Switzerland. Three months later they received a call from the police.

Charlie’s body had been stolen from the cemetery and at the time no one knew why. Soon after the family received a call… It was the grave robbers. They demanded $600,000 for Charlie’s kidnapped body and threatened to harm the couple’s younger children.

Oona didn’t think that Charlie would want her to pay the ransom, so she did not.

The desperate body-snatchers kept insisting. So police tapped the family’s phone. They also monitored the pay-phones in the area. Soon after they caught the grave-robbers, two individuals hoping to profit from the sorrow of others.

The men, Roman Wardas and Gantscho Ganev led authorities to the cornfield where they had stashed the body. Wardas received a four year sentence and Ganev received an 18-month suspended sentence.

Charlie’s body was reburied in it original resting place. But this time covered in concrete.

Holding the dead for ransom didn’t payoff for these two criminal masterminds. Yet another reason grave robberies are not a problem anymore.

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