New DNA research and technology are shedding some light on a long-buried fright in New England, centuries after some townspeople thought they did away with a vampire.

Back in 1990, the remains of a long-buried man were found in Griswold, Conn., but there was more under the lid of the casket.

“There was a grave that was found and on the lid of the grave – it said “JB 55,” which is believed to be his initials and age at death,” said Dr. Ellen Greytak of Parabon Nanolabs. “He had initially been buried and then, he must have been disinterred and his femur bones were taken out and crossed over his chest.”

Greytak said it was believed this was done to prevent the dead man from coming back and walking the earth as a vampire. Not much else was known about the remains for decades, but researchers with Parabon Nanolabs recently took a high-tech approach to finding out who the alleged vampire was.

DNA testing and analysis revealed physical characteristics of the departed, such as brown eyes and dark hair, and through historical research, the investigation led researchers to records of a man named “John Barber.”

“It’s believed that he died from tuberculosis and that the symptoms of that disease – he was pale, had blood in his mouth, was potentially showing ‘vampirism,'” Greytak said. “And so, there was people in the town who were trying to make sure he couldn’t come back and prey upon them!”

Forensic artists used 3D modelling to reconstruct what Barber looked like, but Greytak said that’s not all the technology can be used towards.

“Imagine (how) if you can do this for something that’s 200 years old, well how about something that’s 50 or 20 years old?” Greytak explained. “And that’s what we’re seeing – we’re using these same types of techniques in law enforcement cases.”

Researchers who worked on the Connecticut case said they had previously reconstructed visual images of Egyptian mummies from over 2,000 years ago.

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