In Council Bluffs, Iowa, a man placed an online classified ad offering an oak coffin for sale. Seems pretty harmless. Who doesn’t need a discounted coffin? What coffin owner Dave Burgstrum failed to mention is that the coffin includes a full skeleton. Police stopped the deal and seized the bones.
The ad was simple, “Oak coffin on stand,” and was listed in the antique section of the local Craigslist site for $12,000. What was not posted in the ad title was that the coffin contained a full set of skeletal remains. Burgstrum said the coffin was used in a ritual conducted by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, a fraternal organization that has a long history in Council Bluffs.
Burgstrum wants to sell the coffin to pay property taxes on the organization’s hall.
The coffin is believed to be from the 1900s and was possibly used in initiation rituals as a representation of death. The symbolism of the skeleton is not quite so clear. Burgstrum, who is one of the few remaining members of the Order of Odd Fellows, told police lodge records show the skeleton was donated by a doctor in the 1880s.
“They were just there as long as anyone could remember,” Burgstrum told The Daily Nonpareil.
The site of a skeleton in an online ad is what caught the attention of the police. Detectives took the remains and plan to have them examined. They cannot be sold without an identification tag on them.
“What do you do with them?” You can’t throw them in the trash or bury them,” Burgstrum said. “The (medical examiner) can keep them and I’ll be done with them.”
The coffin is still for sale.
“I’m ready to wheel and deal on it,” Burgstrum said. “I’d like to get those taxes paid.”
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