Elmer McCurdy was a criminal who was killed in a gunfight in the Osage Hills in Oklahoma. After death, the corpse was transported to a funeral home in Oklahoma. No one claimed the corpse, so the funeral home put him on display and visitors could see the effectiveness of the arsenic-based preservative for the price of a nickel, “The Bandit Who Wouldn’t Give Up.”
In 1916, McCurdy’s body was claimed by a representative of the Great Patterson Shows who, posing as a relative interested in giving Elmer a proper burial, put the body on exhibition as the ‘Oklahoma Outlaw.’
For much of the 1930’s and 1940’s the mummy was displayed by former police officer Louis Sonney in his ‘Museum of Crime.' It appears that the remains were real was forgotten. McCurdy was sold as a mannequin to a wax museum in 1971.
In December of 1976 the body was part of the stage dressing in ‘Laff in the Dark’ funhouse the Nu-Pike amusement park in Long Beach, California, when it was and a human bone became visible. The medical examiner who took on the case opened the mummy’s mouth to find a 1924 penny and a ticket from the Museum of Crime in Los Angeles. From that he was able to trace the body and ID it.
Like Sylvester it appears that the arsenic-based embalming method, while toxic, was effective.
Alleged to have died of a gun shot wound to the chest.
It was said that Elmer's last words were "You'll Never Take Me Alive!"
The mummy was laid to rest in Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie, Oklahoma. The state medical examiner ordered two cubic yards of cement poured over the coffin before the grave was closed.
Morton, E. (2014, April 11). How a Real Corpse Ended Up in a Fun Park Spookhouse. Retrieved March 18, 2017, from http://www.slate.com/blogs/atlas_obscura/2014/04/11/the_corpse_of_elmer_mccurdy_and_how_it_ended_up_in_a_long_beach_fun_park.html