Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Is Weirdness Genetic?

The mummified body of a baby, kept as a family heirloom for nearly a century, is missing.

Charles Peavey of Concord, NH, present owner of the small mummy, said it was possibly the newborn son of a great-great-uncle which has been in his family for over 90 years. Police learned of it in 2006 after Peavey's 4-year-old niece mentioned it at her day care center. Authorities collected the 18-inch mummy for testing, and Peavey went to probate court to get custody of it. The tests concluded that the baby died of natural causes shortly after his birth decades ago but failed to prove he was related to Peavey. A judge ordered the remains buried, and it was placed in an unmarked grave in the children's section of a local cemetery where stuffed animals and other toys decorate the grave sites.

This week, it was discovered that the grave had been exhumed and the corpse of "Baby John" removed from his casket, which was reburied. Disturbance of a grave and abuse of a corpse are felonies. Peavey denies any knowledge of what happened and has not been charged with a crime.

Relatives had treated the mummified infant as a family member, giving it cards on holidays and a dried fish as a pet.


meno said...

Does he only eat beef jerky and fruit leather?

How creepy.

TechnoBabe said...

Sounds a bit strange to me. The part that is most strange in my opinion is giving cards and gifts to a mummy. But I am always willing to give the next person space to do their own thing.

The Good Cook said...

Apparently weirdness does run in families. And disrespect and strangeness and total lack of common sense.

Whitney Lee said...

Huh? Seriously? There's no accounting for taste, right? The dried fish is a nice touch.

secret agent woman said...

There is something both thoroughly creepy and a little touching about the family's feelings about the baby mummy. I love the dried fish pet - that is just perfect. And really, is it any weirder than those horrible roadside memorials or elaborate displays at gravesites? You see people in cemeteries talking to their deceased relative all the time. Or what about keeping an urn with the ashes on the mantel? And around here, it isn't uncommon for people to take photos of the body int he casket before it is sealed up and buried, and then stash the pictures in the family bible. There is a lot of weirdness around the way people respond to dead loved ones.

Cecilieaux said...

There's a perfect legal citation for this, but I need my expert to provide it to me. Gird your loins ...

Cecilieaux said...

Found it without bothering my expert!

752 N.W.2d 769 Wis.,2008

Google it.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


He looks like beef jerky and fruit leather.


That's what I meant by my "label" to this post. And I cannot think of any way in which this whole thing is not strange. Even cultures that worship ancestors don't keep the bodies on their family altars.

Good Cook,

Yes, all of this and more. Another chapter in the "truth is stranger than fiction" category.


Dead and DRIED, like a mummy.


I first encountered the custom of photographing the deceased with his family members several years ago. I was shocked. It wasn't that I disapproved - I had just never heard of the practice before. I can't imagine my children doing that with me because they know I never even like pictures of myself while I'm alive.


I looked it up. I don't believe anyone thinks Mr. Peavey is having sex with the baby mummy. And it isn't MY loins that need girding.

nick said...

As SAW says, there are so many weird practices around people who've died, most of them thoroughly morbid and obsessive. I mean, once you're dead, you're dead, right? I don't expect Jenny to spend hours talking to me once I'm gone. As for keeping a mummified baby for almost a century - there's nowt so queer as folk....

the walking man said...

Ok so if they had used DNA or some other analysis to determine that in fact the mummy was related to the family would they have let them keep their possession? While it wouldn't be in my house less it was in an urn what is creepier about that than a mummy (of which there are thousands) sitting in a museum display case.

Of course no one sends King Tut birthday cards anymore but still...

furiousBall said...

holy crap ... wow. yeah, more about the wow.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I would much prefer to be remembered as a live person than for weird things to be done with my lifeless body.


I wondered the same thing. The article seemed to imply that the judge ordered the mummy buried because DNA testing failed to prove a relationship. The basis for his order SHOULD have been that it was unhygienic or at least creepy to keep it around the house.


Sometimes there are no words. "Wow" doesn't even come close here.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Mark - p.s. Do you think King Tut would appreciate a nice dried fish for his next birthday?

Wanderlust Scarlett said...


That's disgusting and ghastly!!

Who else would want this mummy back if not his 'family'? It's a foregone conclusion that they're the ones who've taken possession/custody of the mummy.

Ew. Just EW.

I wonder what Mr. Peavey's brain thinks normal is. That's a bit terrifying.
I know, there IS no normal, as there is nothing to base it on, but even the norm for him would be fascinating and possibly horrific to discover... walking around in his head to see what's there... *shudder*

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Warty Mammal said...

For once in my life, I'm speechless.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You know what? Political correctness is simply too much effort and besides, it's silly in this instance. I think the whole thing is hella creepy.


I can relate!

Jocelyn said...

It's all very Victorian, indeed. So hard for us to understand the impulses and emotions that led to treasuring such a thing. But why not treasure it, really? I hope the great uncle has it in his closet now. Who cares?

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heartinsanfrancisco said...


I agree. There are far more dangerous kinds of weirdness out there.


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