"The Case of the 13th Coffin" sounds like an old Sherlock Holmes mystery, but it really happened in 1950s France. This story comes from the "Lowell Sun," September 14, 1953:
Fronsac, France, Sept. 14--This French village buzzed today over the mystery of the 13th coffin.Doctors who examined the body came to the conclusion that the mystery woman likely died of meningitis, so police decided that at least they didn't have an unsolved murder on their hands. However, as far as I can tell, it was never learned who the girl was, or how she came to be buried in the Dorneau vault.
It all began when P. Dorneau asked the village cemetery watchman to open the family mausolem and rearrange the 12 coffins it contained to make room for additional burials.
Jules Taris, the watchman, went about the task. When the mausolem was opened, he inspected the coffins. There were 13 instead of 12. He counted again...thirteen.
He notified P. Dorneau, the latter could not explain. Only 12 members of the Dorneau family were buried there. He notified the mayor, who refused to believe his story.
Then the 13th coffin was opened. It contained the body of a fair-haired girl, dressed in a low-cut ball gown and dancing slippers.
No one in the village could identify her. The cemetery had no record showing the body was there.
Police believe the girl may have been murdered. There were indications of head injuries. But if a murder, who is the victim and what was the motive? Who was the murderer?
Police confessed that they did not even know where to begin an investigation of the mystery.
Judicial authorities in nearby Libourne are expected to send orders soon for an official exhumation and the opening of an official inquiry.