When Domingo Tellechea was approached by men dressed in black in a bar in Argentina one night in 1974, he was immediately suspicious. Argentina was in constant upheaval in the 1970s; guerrilla groups attacked the government, and death squads employed by the government murdered radicals and innocents alike. Tellechea had some protection, however, as he was well-known both around the world and in his native country for restoring art, antiques…and bodies.
The men drove Tellechea to the office of someone he was acquainted with: Eva Peron’s former personal physician. The man had a job for Tellechea. He was to restore Eva Peron’s corpse, which had been on a bizarre and fascinating journey for almost 20 years.
In the 1970s, the mention of the name Eva Peron immediately drew a line in the sand for most Argentinians. For some, the former First Lady of Argentina was a symbol of hope and inspiration who championed the rights of women and the poor. For others, especially those who had supported the 1955 military coup that toppled her husband, President Juan Peron, and his government, she was an enemy of the state.
Eva Peron became the First Lady of Argentina in 1946 when her husband became President. She held the title until her untimely death from cancer in July 1952. She was only 33 years old. Argentina went into mourning at her passing; nearly 3 million people turned out into the streets of Buenos Aires for her funeral.
In 1955, just two years after Eva Peron’s death, her husband was forced from power in a coup, so he fled to Franco’s Spain. In the midst of the coup, Eva Peron’s body was stolen by the new military government, which wanted to prevent Peron’s monument, and in turn her body, from being used as a rallying point for opposition parties.
Thus began Peron’s body’s bizarre, nearly two-decade journey. At first, the corpse was moved from place to place around Argentina in an attempt to hide its location, but every time it moved, word would somehow leak to the public about where the beloved former First Lady was resting. Though the new government had made it illegal to even speak the name “Peron,” mourners would leave burning candles and flowers outside wherever Peron was being stored, even when she was in secure government buildings. After two years of moving the body around, hoping to avoid public detection, the Argentinian government turned to the Vatican. With their help, Eva Peron was buried in a cemetery in Milan, Italy under a fake name in 1957.
Another military coup, this one in 1971, set the stage for Eva Peron’s eventual return to her homeland. That year, General Juan Carlos Ongania’s regime was overthrown. Argentina’s new President, General Alejandro Lanusse, reached out to the exiled Juan Peron. Lanusse reinstated Peron’s citizenship and agreed to return the body of his deceased wife to him. Eva Peron was exhumed in Milan and sent to Juan Peron in Madrid, where he was still living. In 1973, Juan Peron returned to Argentina and was once again elected President of the country he had fled 18 years earlier. His triumph was short lived, however: Juan Peron suffered a heart attack and died in office on July 1, 1974.
Eva Peron also returned to her native country. When Juan Peron’s widow Isabel took over as President, she decided that Eva Peron should finally be brought home. This is where Domingo Tellechea enters the story. Tellechea was tasked with restoring the body, so Eva could be viewed by the public in Argentina. After so many years, Peron’s body was in bad shape, and Tellechea spent many painstaking hours working to make her presentable. Eventually, he succeeded, and Eva Peron’s body was put on display once again for all Argentinians to view. Today, her body, after years of disruption and travel, remains at rest once and for all in Buenos Aires.
Want more? Check out the articles below:
“Say You Love Satan”: The Case of Ricky Kasso, the Acid King
The Irish Assassin: Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll
This Man Thinks He Knows Who The Zodiac Killer Is – His Father
“Born To Raise Hell:” Richard Speck and the 1966 Chicago Nurse Murders