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It’s not uncommon for people to have a type – but for Karen Greenlee there was only thing she insisted on in a partner… that he had no pulse.

On December 17 1979, the then 23-year-old apprentice embalmer triggered a huge police search after she stole from her workplace a hearse carrying the body of a dead man.

It was claimed that she arrived at the crematorium as planned but when she saw the grieving family of John L. Mecure, 33, she “did a big donut and took off” – with him still in the back.

Karen, the hearse, and the corpse were missing until the next day, with the dead man’s family distraught they had been unable to give him a proper burial.

What's the worst thing that you've experienced at a funeral? Tell us in the comments below!

When police eventually caught up with her, she was miles away from the funeral home in Sacramento, California, and tried to take her own life by overdosing on a fistful of paracetamols and codeine.

She was rushed to hospital to have her stomach pumped, and survived her attempt to take her own life.

Alongside her was a four-and-a-half page letter listing the 40 dead men that she had sex with while in the grips of necrophilia “addiction”.

Karen must have written it believing it was her deathbed confession, but in reality it exposed her darkest desires and changed how everyone she knew or loved saw her forever.

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And if that wasn’t humiliating enough, how the rest of the world saw her was about to change, too.

Greenlee was about to go from a no one to the world’s most infamous female necrophile, the face of a secretive subgroup believed to make up less than ten per cent of people who have sex with corpses.

Incredibly, necrophilia wasn't illegal in California so she faced charges of theft of a hearse and interfering with a funeral.

Her punishment? She had to pay a $255 (£190) fine and spend 11 days in jail.

That wasn’t the end of her legal woes, and John. L. Mercure’s mum Marian Gonzales tried to sue her for $1 million.

In court, Karen admitted to climbing in to the coffins at her workplace to molest corpses, and of drinking heavily in her apartment which was attached to the mortuary.

But there were more shocking revelations to come, and in 1987 she gave an explosive interview titled The Unrepentant Necrophile in which she explained all the different ways that she used dead men to reach orgasm, describing herself as a “morgue rat”.

She said: “People have this misconception that there has to be penetration for sexual gratification, which is bull!

“The most sensitive part of a woman is the front area anyway and that is what needs to be stimulated. Besides, there are different aspects of sexual expression: touchy-feely, 69, even holding hands.

“That body is just laying there, but it has what it takes to make me happy.

“The cold, the aura of death, the smell of death, the funereal surroundings, it all contributes.”

She also went in to detail about how she would slip back in to her workplaces after hours to have sex with the bodies, and how she was only attracted to ones that smelled a certain way.

Karen explained: "I find the odour of death very erotic. There are death odours and there are death odours. Now you get your body that’s been floating in the bay for two weeks, or a burn victim, that doesn’t attract me much, but a freshly embalmed corpse is something else."

But what many people found most shocking was that she didn't believe that what she had done was wrong – and she had no plans to stop.

She said: "For a while I found myself thinking, 'Yeah, this isn’t normal. Why can’t I be like other people. Why doesn’t the same pair of shoes fit me just right?' I went through all that personal hell and finally I accepted myself and realised that’s just me.

"That’s my nature and I might as well enjoy it. I’m miserable when I try to be something I’m not."

No one knows where Karen is now, but it is believed that she changed her name and moved away to start a new life after the publication of the "regrettable" interview.

  • Crime

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