Two Perps Arrested
A Pole and a Bulgarian walk into a cemetery….and walk out with Charlie Chaplin’s body. No joke. This actually happened on March 2, 1978.
The two men, Roman Wardas and Gantscho Ganev had moved to Switzerland from their respective countries looking for work. Both were unable to find anything resembling a real job and were pretty down on their luck. They needed a good money making scheme to get their feet under them.
What better way to make a few bucks than to steal the body of the recently deceased comedy legend Charlie Chaplin. Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin had died on Christmas Day, 1977. He was buried in the town cemetery in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, where he had lived in the later part of his life. He was buried in a relatively common grave after a small ceremony without much fanfare. It seemed like a pretty easy, if somewhat nauseating, job to remove the casket and demand a reward for its return.
They entered the cemetery armed with shovels and dug up the silent film superstar. Removing his body, they drove it a mile down the road and reburied him in a cornfield. They then called Chaplin’s widow from a payphone and demanded $600,000 dollars. The two figured she could part with that amount considering Chaplin left an estate valued at $100 million.
She immediately went to the police who began monitoring phones in the area and listening in on the Chaplin phone line. After a five-week investigation they caught the two perps. Both cooperated and led the cops to the field where Chaplin was pushing up corn instead of daisies. Chaplin was re-interred in his original grave, this time with a large concrete slab placed over his casket to prevent future thefts and ensure Chaplin would not star in any future zombie apocalypse.
The two perps were convicted of extortion. Wardas was sentenced to four and half years as he was the “mastermind,” and Ganev was given a suspended sentence.