A crowd of people gathered at an opening of a coffin at Senhora Santana cemetery out of curiosity. Apparently, neighbors had been hearing odd noises coming from a tomb for days, and it was time to find out what was going on. When the coffin was finally opened, what they found, and what it meant, sent shivers down everyone’s spine.
37-year-old Rosangela Almeida dos Santos was from the northeastern town of Riachao das Neves, in Brazil. She was rushed to the emergency room by family members on January 28 due to experiencing sever fatigue. While at the hospital, she went through two cardiac arrests. Things didn’t look good for her.
For a year, Rosangela had been experiencing medical problems. At seven years of age, she began having fainting spells and was eventually put on anti-convulsant medication, which she would end up taking for the rest of her life. Regardless of everything that she had been through, her family was shocked when she was pronounced dead from septic shock.
The Almeida family was devastated, but they immediately began planning her funeral. That night, the family held a wake in her honor. After saying their goodbyes, the family buried Rosangela at Senhora Santana cemetery. After placing her in a wooden coffin that was nailed shut, she was put inside of a concrete tomb. Finally, the family was able to start their grieving process.
After a few days, strange things began to happen to the neighbors of the cemetery. Muffled screams were heard coming from the graveyard. Screams that became clearer at night. Neighbors even heard groans and banging. At first, they thought it was just kids playing around, but the noises didn’t stop. After some time, neighbors decided to check it out.
Natalina Silva went to the graveyard to try to find out where the noises were coming from. She came up to Rosangela’s tomb. “When I got there right in front of the tomb, I heard banging from inside it. I thought the kids who play around the cemetery were playing a joke on me. Then I heard her groan twice, and after those two groans she stopped,” she said. Natalina knew something was terribly wrong.
Natalina and other neighbors tried to find the family of Rosangela to let them know what was going on. After the news was spread around the town, the family finally found out what was happening. They immediately went to the graveyard to check on the tomb, accompanied by hundreds of curious people.
After eleven days of being buried in the ground, the family was helped by locals to break open the tomb and pull out the coffin. When they opened the lid, what they had found shocked them. Rosangela’s body was no longer on her back, instead, she was on her side. The balls of cotton wool had been taken out of her ears and nostrils. But that wasn’t all they found.
Germana, Rosangela’s mother, noticed quite a few wounds on her body that weren’t there at the time of burial. There were fresh injuries on her hands and forehead. There was blood on the inside of the coffin at the spots where nails were hammered in. It appeared that Rosangela had tried to break out of the coffin. Hoping that she was still alive, the family moved closer to her body.
Some of the people who had gathered around suggested calling an ambulance for help, but nothing could be done. Rosangela had no heart beat because she had died in that coffin. Unfortunately, Germana realized she hadn’t been gone for long. “Lots of people touched her foot and everybody saw that she was still warm. She wasn’t cold,” said local resident Ana Francisco Dias. Rosangela’s family was heartbroken for the second time, and they sought out justice.
The family called the police and told them that she was declared dead when she wasn’t. “She had tried to open the lid, even the nails that had been hammered in were loose. Her hands were injured like she had been trying to get out,” said Germana. Isamara, Rosangela’s sister, demanded answers from the hospital.
“We don’t want to accuse any doctor, we don’t want to cause any problems, but we witnessed that situation, there’s just no way a person can be buried for 11 days and still be warm,” explained Isamara. The turned to the police to help them figure out what happened.
Chief Arnaldo Monte led the local police in an investigation of the incident. “We have today started to take statements from family members and other people. If need be we will exhume Ms. Santos’ body again so we can get to the bottom of what really happened,” he said. As that’s happening, the hospital says their being cooperative.
The hospital that treated, and ultimately pronounced her dead, was Hospital de Oeste in Barreiras, located in Brazil’s northeastern state of Bahia. A hospital spokesperson said that they, “will provide all necessary information requested from them to the family and authorities.” Many people have no idea how something like this could have happened. Even though an accidental burial is rare, they definitely happen.
Since the beginning of history, reports of people being buried alive have been recorded. These days, it entirely depends on the burial process. In the U.S. and Canada, most families choose to embalm their loved ones before burial and that process would kill anyone still alive. Embalming wasn’t a common practice in Brazil until recently, and some towns still don’t do it.