What do Benjamin Franklin, and Jeffrey Dahmer have in common? Not much, except for the fact that both men had numerous dismembered bodies removed from their personal residences.
Now, before we go drawing to many imaginary paralells between the actions of a horrible mass murderer, and a beloved founding father, let's examine the facts as they really are.
In the years leading up to the boilng point of the American Revolution, Franklin was working as a delegate for the US Colonies in England. He lived in a flat in the center of London, 36 Craven Street to be exact. In 1998 at this very site, workmen undertaking a 1.6 million dollar renovation of the property were shocked when they uncovered ten bodies; four children and six adults buried beneath the home.
Archeoligists were notified immediately, and began a historical excavation of the property. Ground penatrating radar suggest that there were even more bodies buried in the basement portion of the home. The carbon dating results released after these excavations dates the bodies to the exact time that Franklin lived in the home, two hundred years ago.
When these facts were released to the public rumors began to run rampant through regular society, as well as through the historical, and scientific communities. A rumor began to circulate that Benjamin Franklin was connected by deed to the likes of Hannibal Lecter.
The truth however, is not so exciting.
During the time that Franklin was in England some two hundred years ago, medical dissection was outlawed. The body trade had become so lucrative, that many people had turned to murder to provide a living for their family. Many families lost loved ones to grave snatchers, and some funeral homes were selling the bodies of customers to these "body snatchers" who would then sell them to research facilities, and hospitals. When these things began to happen, the practice of human dissection was outlawed.
Many doctors and scientists however continued on with the practice purchasing bodies on the black market. Enter Dr. William Hewson. The good doctor was the husband of the daughter of Franklin's landlord in London. He was a scientist, a surgeon, and had a curiosity nearly as insatiable as Franklin's own. It should be noted at this point that Franklin himself, a scientist was fascinated by the human anatomy and medicine.
The bodies recovered showed signs of medical procedures. The skulls were neatly sawed, and bones showed scalpel like cuts. The final verdict? Dr. Hewson and Franklin were working together discecting bodies for the purpose of scientific experimentation. If they had been caught in these times, they likely would have hanged for their practices. However they were not caught, and the knowledge of their crimes, (yes it was a crime) were hidden away beneath the soil for over two hundred years.
Even after the official report was released, many still speculated about the possibility of Franklin being a serial killer. Rumors pushed the hand of Philadelphia scientists, who began survying Franklin's Phiadelphia estate. To the dismay of conspiracy theorists however, no bodies were discovered, adding validity to the conclusions of the London Archeology Community.
So in truth, Franklin was not a serial killer. One could make a valis argument that he was indeed a little strange, after all who wants to live on top of the bodies of ten people? But this, will just pass into the school of history as one more notable interest of the amazing Benjamin Franklin.