Narcisse age 40, arrived at a Haitian hospital on April 30, 1962. He was suffering from a fever, and he felt like bugs where crawling on his skin. Doctors noted a general physical deterioration, and immediately gave Narcisse a room. On May 2, 1962, he was pronounced dead. His family laid his body to rest in a cemetery near his village, l’Estere. He was placed in a coffin, nailed shut, and set within the earth. This should have been the end of his story.
In 1980, sixteen years later, Narcisse reappeared with a strange and hard to believe tale. He tells that after his funeral, late at night, his body was dug up by a man that had cursed him. He claimed the man was a powerful Haitian vodou sorcerer. The sorcerer beat Narcisse, bound him, and gave him a strange potion. He took Narcisse to a sugar plantation where other zombie slaves awaited. There, he put Narcisse to work, continuously injecting him with doses of the potion to maintain his zombie-like state. He claimed that he had become a lifeless husk bound to the powerful man. When the sorcerer died two years later, Narcisse escaped and roamed around for sixteen years until he found his way home.
Narcisse’s death and reappearance, is well documented, but what happened within the sixteen year time span is where things gets complicated. Some researchers believe the strange concoction that caused Narcisse to enter into a death-like coma was a combination of tetrodotoxin and bufotoxin (toxins from the puffer fish and toad) that where administered through the skin. The single greatest advocate for this was a graduate student from Harvard University, Wade Davis, who published two popular books based on his travels to Haiti. Subsequent scientific examinations have failed to support the presence of tetrodotoxin, that was central to the claims reported by Wade.
We may never know what actually happened to Narcisse, he passed away for the second and final time in 1994.