Brazilian Man, Thought Dead, Shows Up at His Own Wake

The UK Guardian recently reported on a case in Brazil in which a wake was thrown into chaos when the person who was allegedly dead showed up very much alive. A wake, after all, is hardly ever attended by the person being honored.

Grób Jerzego Kawalerowicza

The man was Gilberto Araújo, a 41-year-old car washer from the town of Alagoinhas, about 70 miles from Salvador. It seems that his family misidentified a body that had turned up in the local morgue as that of Araújo. Funeral arrangements were made and the wake was held in honor of the recently not-so-very departed.

Despite the fact that several people at the wake fled in terror or fainted, Araújo's mother was reported to The real dead person, a murder victim, was actually Genivaldo Santos Gama, who greatly resembled Araújo and was also a car washer. The local police had also misidentified the body as that of Araújo, contributing to the confusion.

Araújo had learned of his own funeral from an acquaintance who had run into him in the street. Araújo tried to telephone to tell his relatives that he was very much alive, but it was dismissed as someone pulling a cruel prank. So Araújo was obliged to show up at his own wake to demonstrate that news of his demise had been greatly exaggerated.

One would have wanted to be there when Araújo burst in and hear what his first words were. It would depend, one supposes, whether he was amused or appalled at the mix up.

Misidentification of bodies in the morgue happens from time to time. The Dayton Daily News reports a case in which a coroner's office accidentally switched bodies, giving the wrong one to each of two grieving families. The mix up resulted in one body being mistakenly cremated and the other mistakenly interned in the family mausoleum.

More disturbingly, CBS News reports that a grieving mom recently discovered that her long missing son was misidentified as one of John Wayne Gacy's many victims. DNA testing revealed that the body in question was not that of Michael, Sherry Marino's long missing son, but someone else entirely. Marino, then age 14, went missing in 1976 and was misidentified as a Gacy victim through use of dental records. Marino, if he is still alive, would be a man of about 50 years of age.

In this case, Araújo's case ended on a happier note.