🌸Weird Key West History including TV show The Dead Files🌸

🌸The Real Sloppy Joe it’s not just a bar in Key West, but named after a real man!🌸

I’ve compiled some Key West history and it’s strange, from a man who lived with a decaying corpse for 7 years to the KKK killings, to the REAL SLOPPY JOE. My search for the macabre in The Keys lead me to Necrophilia and stabbing in  both eyes with a pen in 2017.

From the Sloppy Joe’s website:  see link here:  http://sloppyjoes.com/history/”The official beginning of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, the famous and infamous Key West saloon, was December 5, 1933–the day Prohibition was repealed. The bar was destined to go through two name changes and a sudden change of location before it would become Sloppy Joe’s, seen by millions of visitors to Florida’s southernmost outpost.

“Key West being a bastion of free thinkers even in the thirties, Prohibition was looked on as an amusing exercise dreamed up by the government–and Joe Russell was just one of the enterprising individuals who operated illegal speakeasies. Even Ernest Hemingway, who made Key West his home at the time, slipped over to Russell’s on occasion to buy illicit bottles of Scotch, and the two struck up an enduring friendship.

“When the government’s Great Experiment ended a dismal failure, Joe Russell became a legitimate saloon-keeper-proprietor of the Blind Pig, a droll rundown building that Russell leased for three dollars a week.”

There’s the grave of the real Sloppy Joe – “Sloppy” Joe Russell (1889-1941) who was Ernest Hemingway’s fishing guide and a famous Key West bartender.

While searching Sloppy Joe I ran across Key West History and the KKK.  Which led me to find a segment of The Dead Files which I watch quite often and never saw this episode.  I have included it below, I also found an article in the Sun Sentinel some of which I will post here, but if you want to read the full article you will have to click the read more link below.


Peace on earth, good will toward men – the spirit of Christmas. But not in Key West in 1921.

That year, the holiday season exploded into a tropical wave of violence, culminating in a grisly murder. There were many who participated, yet no one would say who the killers were. No one was ever charged. For the record, the crime remains an unsolved murder, another Key West legend.

That legend lives on partly through two curses: one a voodoo curse on the killers; the other, a curse on the city itself.

BECAUSE HIS FAMILY CAME from the Canary Islands, off the coast of Spain, Manola Cabeza was known in Key West as “Isleno,” the Islander. After serving with distinction in World War I, a decorated Cabeza returned to Key West, where he owned and operated the Red Rooster, described variously as a bar, a coffee shop and a sporting club. It was located on Thomas Street, near a Key West waterfront that knew no shortage of action after the sun went down.

During Prohibition, rumrunning from Havana pumped money into the Key West economy and plenty of forbidden booze into the bars, whorehouses and illegal gambling dens along the waterfront. It was a lawless world, but the muscular Cabeza could take care of any unruly patrons at the Red Rooster. One old Key Wester, Perucho Sanchez, described Cabeza as “one tough, mean hombre.”

One of the women working the waterfront area was a beautiful mulatto named Angela – called a “high yellow” in those days. Black hair and black eyes complemented a complexion described as “silky smooth, cafe au lait skin.”

The handsome Cabeza took Angela off the streets and brought her into his apartment as his common-law wife. They lived together in a second-floor flat on Petronia Street, not far from today’s Ernest Hemingway House.

The Key West of the 1920s was a tolerant, live-and-let-live town. Still, it was a long way south of the Mason-Dixon Line, and there were a few taboos lurking in the tropical shadows. One of them was miscegenation. While a white man could slyly pleasure himself with a black woman, he could not live openly with her without raising eyebrows and, in the Islander’s case, the horsewhips of bigots.

“Isleno began living with a brown – a mulatto girl,” recalled a friend, cigar-maker Norberto Diaz. “They lived in a room right in back of the coffee shop. People talked about his living with a brown, but nobody didn’t really think much about it. I think a man’s got a right to live with any kind of woman he wants to. If he wants to live with a brown, that ain’t nobody’s business but his own.”

The Ku Klux Klan was less tolerant.

ON THE NIGHT OF DEC. 23, 1921, five automobiles, loaded with hooded men pulled up to Cabeza’s home. They went inside and dragged the Islander out to the street, but he fought back, ripping the masks off two of the men, recognizing both.

Read more here at The Sun Sentinal:  https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/fl-xpm-1994-12-11-9412050130-story.html

Watch The Dead Files Episode and Killed by The Klan below.

🌸More Key West History The Jews of Key West🌸

“The Jews of Key West: Smugglers, Cigar Makers, and Revolutionaries (1823-1969),” by author Arlo Haskell. Published November 15, 2017 by Sand Paper Press

Long before Miami was on the map, Key West had Florida’s largest economy and an influential Jewish community. Jews who settled here as peddlers in the nineteenth century joined a bilingual and progressive city that became the launching pad for the revolution that toppled the Spanish Empire in Cuba. As dozens of local Jews collaborated with José Martí’s rebels, they built relationships that supported thriving Jewish communities in Key West and Havana at the turn of the twentieth century. During the 1920s, when anti-immigration hysteria swept the United States, Key West’s Jews resisted the immigration quotas and established “the Southern American terminal of the Jewish underground,” smuggling Jewish aliens in small boats across the Florida Straits to safety in Key West. But these and other Jewish exploits were kept secret as Ku Klux Klan leaders infiltrated local law enforcement and government. Many Jews left Key West during the 1930s and their stories were ignored or forgotten by the mythmakers that reinvented Key West as a tourist mecca.

Arlo Haskell’s The Jews of Key West is an entertaining and authoritative account of Key West’s Jewish community from 1823-1969. Illustrated with over 100 images, it brings to life a history that had long been forgotten.

Read More here at The Jews of Key West:  https://www.jewsofkeywest.com/

🌸Even weirder history in Key West, man lives with corpse for 7 years!🌸

 Carl Tanzler, or sometimes Count Carl von Cosel (February 8, 1877 – July 3, 1952), was a German-born radiology technologist at the Marine-Hospital Service in Key West, Florida. He developed an obsession for a young Cuban-American tuberculosis patient, Elena “Helen” Milagro de Hoyos (July 31, 1909 – October 25, 1931), that carried on well after the disease had caused her death.[1] In 1933, almost two years after her death, Tanzler removed Hoyos’ body from its tomb, and lived with the corpse at his home for seven years until its discovery by Hoyos’ relatives and authorities in 1940.[2]

Despite Tanzler’s best efforts, Hoyos died of tuberculosis at her parents’ home in Key West on October 25, 1931.[1] Tanzler paid for her funeral, and with the permission of her family he then commissioned the construction of an above ground mausoleum in the Key West Cemetery, which he visited almost every night.[1][7]

One evening in April 1933, Tanzler crept through the cemetery where Hoyos was buried and removed her body from the mausoleum, carting it through the cemetery after dark on a toy wagon, and transporting it to his home. He reportedly said that Hoyo’s spirit would come to him when he would sit by her grave and serenade her corpse with a favorite Spanish song. He also said that she would often tell him to take her from the grave.[1] Tanzler attached the corpse’s bones together with wire and coat hangers, and fitted the face with glass eyes. As the skin of the corpse decomposed, Tanzler replaced it with silk cloth soaked in wax and plaster of paris. As the hair fell out of the decomposing scalp, Tanzler fashioned a wig from Hoyos’ hair that had been collected by her mother and given to Tanzler not long after her burial in 1931.[7] Tanzler filled the corpse’s abdominal and chest cavity with rags to keep the original form, dressed Hoyos’ remains in stockings, jewelry, and gloves, and kept the body in his bed. Tanzler also used copious amounts of perfume, disinfectants, and preserving agents, to mask the odor and forestall the effects of the corpse’s decomposition.[9]

In October 1940, Hoyo’s sister Florinda heard rumors of Tanzler sleeping with the disinterred body of her sister, and confronted Tanzler at his home, where Hoyos’ body was eventually discovered. Florinda notified the authorities, and Tanzler was arrested and detained. Tanzler was psychiatrically examined, and found mentally competent to stand trial on the charge of “wantonly and maliciously destroying a grave and removing a body without authorization.”[1] After a preliminary hearing on October 9, 1940 at the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West, Tanzler was held to answer on the charge, but the case was eventually dropped and he was released, as the statute of limitations for the crime had expired.[1][7]

Shortly after the corpse’s discovery by authorities, Hoyos’ body was examined by physicians and pathologists, and put on public display at the Dean-Lopez Funeral Home, where it was viewed by as many as 6,800 people.[8] Hoyos’ body was eventually returned to the Key West Cemetery where the remains were buried in an unmarked grave, in a secret location, to prevent further tampering.[1]

The facts underlying the case and the preliminary hearing drew much interest from the media at the time (most notably, from the Key West Citizen and Miami Herald), and created a sensation among the public, both regionally and nationwide. The public mood was generally sympathetic to Tanzler, whom many viewed as an eccentric “romantic”.[1]

Though not reported contemporaneously, research (most notably by authors Harrison and Swicegood) has revealed evidence of Tanzler’s necrophilia with Hoyos’ corpse.[1][7] Two physicians (Dr. DePoo and Dr. Foraker) who attended the 1940 autopsy of Hoyos’ remains recalled in 1972 that a paper tube had been inserted in the vaginal area of the corpse that allowed for intercourse.[1][7] Others contend that since no evidence of necrophilia was presented at the 1940 preliminary hearing, and because the physicians’ “proof” surfaced in 1972, over 30 years after the case had been dismissed, the necrophilia allegation is questionable. While no existing contemporary photographs of the autopsy or photographs taken at the public display show a tube, the necrophilia claim was repeated by the HBO Autopsy program in 1999.[9]

Watch the autopsy with Michael Baden I remember watching this years ago.


🌸Even more recent in Key West as recent as 2017🌸

A grand jury met Tuesday and indicted Calhoun, 24, who identifies as female, with first-degree murder of Mark Brann, 67, citing also the alleged use of a handgun during a robbery.

The indictment mentions the eye-stabbing and the allegation Calhoun jammed a broken piece of furniture down Brann’s throat.

Brann was attacked early Aug. 14 inside his 1206 12th Street home in New Town, where Calhoun said she often stayed. The two had been having a sexual relationship, she told police.

Calhoun admitted to the attack, saying it started when she accused Brann of being a cannibal and Brann grabbed a gun which went off during a struggle, according to detectives.

No one was shot, police said, but Calhoun then racked the pistol planning to shoot Brann with it but firearm jammed.

After stabbing Brann in the eyes, detectives said, she jammed a piece of wood down his throat and stomped on it, and then grabbed a dresser drawer and beat Brann about the head and throat with it.

“Calhoun admitted [she] went beyond self-defense,” wrote Detective Jeffrey Dean, in the arrest affidavit.

Brann died the next day, having suffered severe head injuries.

Calhoun is also charged with robbery with a deadly weapon, possession of cocaine and possession of hydrocodone.

Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/florida-keys/article179663911.html#storylink=cpy

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