A woman stumbled into Ennery, Haiti on 24th October 1936 in a terrible state. Her eyes were diseased and her eyelashes had fallen out, she was dressed in rags and walking barefoot. She hated direct sunlight and is cited as a famous zombie case, brought to the Western culture by American folklorist and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. She was looking for some confirmation about the zombie phenomena because of soldiers and sailors bringing back stories about them.
‘Felicia’ was said to have spoken in a very flat and emotionless way, she displayed little interested in anything and her laugh was flat and lacked real mirth. She was quite indifferent to events around her and an X-ray taken put into doubt that she might ever have been Felicia as they did not match, the original woman had suffered a fractured leg but there was no sign of this on the recently deceased woman.
The woman attracted a crowd and a local family, the Mentors, said she looked like a deceased relative called Felicia who died in 1907, aged 29 years-old. She was taken home to the family but was transferred to a state hospital a few days later. Hurston thought that what had happened was due to drugs or poison and not due to black magic.
The case for the drug/poison case is due to the postulation that tetrodotoxin (derived from puffer fish) is used in the bokor’s mixture used in Black Magic rituals. Wade Davis went out to look into it and found that they made their ‘zombie powders’ from various animal parts and plants. It was the use of this in various formats that could cause the brain-washed and lethargic nature of the victims they chose, before burial they looked dead and the bokor would then ‘revive’ them later. To get the dosage right would be something precise too, it could fail as often as it was recorded to succeed, and a bokor is hardly likely to hand over their secrets that easily either.
Dr Louis P Mars suggested that rather than her being a case as a zombie she was more likely to have been suffering schizophrenia. Unfortunately it was only a few weeks of survival, she died in the hospital.
Another interesting fact about these zombie cases is that it is a criminal offence in Haiti, under the Haitian Penal Code (Article 246) it is illegal to create a zombie, it is on par with murder only the victim is technically still alive.
A small note on the picture. Whilst most sites are using this picture as Felicia I cannot verify this as her actual image.