Secrets of the Dead (2000– )
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The Woman in the Iron Coffin 

Construction workers unearth the body of an African American woman in Queens, New York. NYPD detectives assume that she had been dead for just a few days, but this is far from the truth.


Adam Luria


Adam Luria


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Episode credited cast:
Jay O. Sanders ... Narrator (voice)
Kevin L. Karem Kevin L. Karem ... Self - U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (as Dr. Kevin L. Karem)
John Houston John Houston ... Self
Kimberly L. Detherage Kimberly L. Detherage ... Self
Jeffrey Kroessler Jeffrey Kroessler ... Self - Historian, John Jay College (as Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler)
Scott Warnasch Scott Warnasch ... Self
Warren Davis Warren Davis ... Self - New York City Police Department (as Detective Warren Davis)
Clarence Taylor Clarence Taylor ... Self - Historian, Baruch College (as Professor Clarence Taylor)
Jerry Conlogue Jerry Conlogue ... Self
Carla L. Peterson Carla L. Peterson ... Self - Author, Black Gotham (as Professor Carla L. Peterson)
Robert Saenz Robert Saenz ... Self - New York City Police Department (Retired) (as Detective Robert Saenz)
Joe Mullins Joe Mullins ... Self - George Mason University (as Professor Joe Mullins)
Rhonda Quinn Rhonda Quinn ... Self


In October 2011, construction workers unearthed the body of an African American woman in Queens, New York. NYPD detectives assumed that she had been dead for just a few days. But when Scott Warnasch from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner arrived, he identified the remains of a rare Victorian iron coffin and realized that this remarkably preserved body was over 150-years-old. Why was she buried here? And why had she been interred in this elaborate coffin? As they recovered the body, the OCME team discovered that the woman's skin was covered in smallpox lesions. The case had turned from a possible homicide into an archaeological mystery and a potential biohazard. Deploying cutting-edge forensic science, a virtual autopsy and historical research we uncover her identity and lay bare a forgotten piece of American history from before the Civil War.

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User Reviews

A touching look into the life of a woman from over 150 years ago.
10 October 2018 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

In Queens, New York in 2011, a most unusual discovery was made while folks were doing construction. At first, they thought they discovered a murder victim and the body appeared relatively recently buried. However, surprisingly, they discovered the body was from about 1850 and it was amazingly well preserved. But that is what caused some confusion. The dead woman was clearly a black lady....but her nice clothing and expensive iron coffin were not the sort of things investigators expected. See the show as they try to discover as much as they could about her--her lifestyle, how she died and even, perhaps, who she might have been.

As my wife and I watched this show, we noticed how touching and reverent it all was. And, it also is a great example of how history is NOT just about world leaders and wars but about people...everyday people. Well worth seeing and lovingly crafted.

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Release Date:

3 October 2018 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9 HD
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