Vampires have been the subject of fascination and mystery for hundreds of years. In 1990, the grave of one of them was found in Connecticut. But the technology at the time did not allow us to learn more about its identity. Thirty years later, a conclusive DNA test has solved the mystery.
‘JB 55,’ the 'vampire'
Little is known about this person. The man is thought to have died in the 1800s but his family, fearing that he would come back to haunt them, rearranged his skeleton so that his head was above his rib cage and then crossed the rest of his bones. This was presumably the way to prevent the deceased from leaving the grave. When they had finished, they wrote ‘JB 55’ on his coffin. This corresponds to his initials and age.
Technology reveals his identity
Thanks to advances in DNA testing technology, scientists were able to determine his identity for the first time, 200 years after his death. Using the Y-chromosome and genealogical databases, a surname emerged: Barber.
The scientists then did a quick search to determine whether this family had actually lived in this place at this time. An old diary from 1826 recorded the death of a young boy named Nathan Barber whose father was named John Barber. After research, Nathan Barber's grave had also been marked with his initials and age, ‘NB 13,’ just like his father’s had been.
Who was John Barber?
John Barber was a farmer and not a bloodsucking vampire as one might imagine. He was a carrier of tuberculosis, the cause of his death. At the time, the symptoms and outcomes of tuberculosis were similar to those that could make you appear to be a vampire. Hence the fact that John Barber's bones were found in this position.