DNA test and genealogy have finally revealed the identity of the Connecticut “vampire”  two centuries after he died.

The bones of the mysterious person were discovered 30 years ago. Evidence suggests the man had long been dead when his remains were dug up in his grave and reburied with the head and limbs piled on top of the ribcage. 

This pattern of burial suggests the man was suspected to be a vampire. 

Now, 200 years after he was buried, the man’s identify was finally revealed. After comparing genetic evidence from the skeleton with online genealogical databases, forensic scientists said that the man’s name was John Barber. 

Barber was formerly known only as "JB 55," which stands for his age when he died and initials. His initials were embedded on his coffin, which was buried in a Connecticut graveyard dating to the late 18th century.

"This case has been a mystery since the 1990s," said Charla Marshall, a forensic scientist with SNA International in Alexandria, Virginia.

"Now that we have expanded technological capabilities, we wanted to revisit JB 55 to see whether we could solve the mystery of who he was."

A representative of the National Museum of Health and Medicine revealed at an event on July 26 that Barber was probably a poor farmer who likely died from tuberculosis. The symptoms of tuberculosis likely led Barber’s friends and family to suspect he was a vampire. 

Reports of Drug-resistant Tuberculosis in India Have US CDC on Alert A doctor (L) comforts her tuberculosis patient at the Indonesian Union Against Tuberculosis clinic in Jakarta, April 4, 2011. Tuberculosis remains a major global public health problem, with 9.4 million new cases and more than 1.7 million deaths recorded in 2009. Indonesia has the fifth highest tuberculosis rate in the world after India, China, South Africa and Nigeria based on 2009 World Health Organization (WHO) data. Photo: Reuters

Known as consumption during the 18th and 19th century, tuberculosis caused terrifying symptoms that those who died of it were thought to leave their graves, infect their relatives and drain away their blood. 

The illness gave infected individuals a ghastly appearance. Tuberculosis caused ulcers in the lungs and left victims pale, thin and weak. Those infected also often had bloodstains at the corners of their mouths as a result of coughing up blood. Their gums would also recede, which made their teeth appear longer.

Tuberculosis is also contagious and, as epidemics spread, people thought the changes in the sick persons’ appearance and the subsequent sickening of their family members are a part of a supernatural transformation. 

Advances in the field of medicine have shed light on this once mysterious disease, but tuberculosis remains one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide. Figures from the World Health Organization show that the disease afflicted 10 million in 2017. Of these, 1.6 million died. TB incidence worldwide, however, is falling at about 2 percent per year.