The Ghoulish State of Necrophilia Law

John Troyer, a newly arrived scholar at the University of Bath’s Centre for Death and Society, dug up evidence of a little-unappreciated gap in the law. His study, called Abuse of a Corpse: A Brief History and Re-Theorisation of Necrophilia Laws in the USA, appears in the only-occasionally-ghoulish journal Mortality.

Troyer spotlights an incident that frustrated the police and the courts of one American state. He writes: “In September 2006, Wisconsin police discovered Nicholas Grunke, Alexander Grunke and Dustin Radtke digging into the grave of a recently deceased woman. Upon questioning by police, Alexander Grunke explained that the three men wanted to exhume the body for sexual intercourse. In the Wisconsin state court system, the three men were charged with attempted third-degree sexual assault and attempted theft. None of the men could be charged with attempted necrophilia, since the state of Wisconsin has no law making necrophilia illegal.

“What the Wisconsin case exposed was the following gap in US jurisprudence: many states have no law prohibiting necrophilia.” …

So begins this week’s Improbable Research column in The Guardian.