Friday, January 1, 2010

Warren & The Missing Skulls

World Daily News headline]

[Michael Wilson from World Daily News]

[Victorian Family Vault photo by Michael Colbruno]

The above photo is of three of the Victorian family vaults at Mountain View Cemetery in Plot 2. If you look closely you’ll notice that the one on the right has been stripped of the family name. This was done at the request of the family after a horrendous grave robbery in January 1988. The family vault belonged to Dr. Orran Warren.

Michael Wilson, a graduate of Skyline High School in Oakland, and a friend broke into the family vault. Newspaper accounts say that Wilson refused to identify the accomplice, who allegedly had possession of the skulls. According to the Oakland Tribune, someone at Skyline said that Wilson had a “thing for science fiction and monsters and goblins.’

Wilson and his accomplice broke into two coffins and removed the skulls from two women. One had died in 1921 and the other just a year before the grave robbery in 1987. An attempt to desecrate the body of a woman who died in 1941 failed.

Chris Powell, as student at the San Francisco Institute of Art, discovered the grisly scene and took photographs that he gave to the Oakland Tribune. The pictures show the opening above the door where the two men gained entrance as well as graphic images of the desecrated coffins. One image shows the image of the skeletal remains of a child. Cemetery records show that five children were buried in the Warren family vault.

I was unable to find accounts of what happened to Michael Wright or if police ever found his accomplice. The judge in the case, Carol Corrigan, now sits on the California Supreme Court, appointed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

We don’t know much about Dr. Orran P. Warren. His family vault sits among the very first ones built at Mountain View Cemetery in the 1860s. The cemetery has records of the other people buried in the family vault, but out of respect to the dead they will remain anonymous. We know that some of the vaults, mainly the neighboring Tubbs vault, were used as holding places for bodies before their burial places were ready.

What we do know about Orran Warren is that he was born in Vermont in 1811 and married the former Abigail “Abby” Davis in 1834. Records show that he advertised in the Oakland Tribune as an “Eclectic Physician” and lived and worked at 403 Fourteenth Street in Oakland.

In 1848, we know that he was still on the East Coast, as records show that he chartered the New Hampshire Botanic Medical Society that year. On the West Coast, records show that he was a founding member and President of the Eclectic Medical Society of the State of California.

Other than that, all we know is his family was the victim of a gruesome grave robbery and that the remains of his descendants have been moved to an unknown location.

It should also be noted that this grave robbery did not occur under the current management.

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1 comment:

Chris Pattillo said...


I am glad to know a little about these tombs. My maternal grandparents (Thornally) are buried opposite opposite these monuments and they have always intrigued me.

Chris Pattillo