"In 1846, a man named Horace Ray died of tuberculosis in Griswold, Connecticut. Within the next six years, two of his grown sons died of the same disease. When yet another son fell ill two years later, Ray’s family and friends could think of only one explanation: The dead sons were somehow feeding on and sickening the living one—from the afterlife. In an effort to keep the remaining son from getting even worse, they exhumed the dead sons’ bodies and burned them.
This wasn’t an isolated incident. In 1874, a Rhode Island man named William Rose dug up his own daughter’s body and burned her heart, and in 1875 a victim of “consumption,” as TB was called then, had her lungs burned posthumously for good measure. This practice of digging up, burning, or otherwise attempting to restrain the deceased was a widespread practice in many Western countries until the early 20th century, and it was intended to prevent what people at the time thought of as vampires: Dead victims of disease that literally sucked the life out of the living from beyond the grave.”
"Last year, Bulgarian archaeologists found two skeletons whose chests had been impaled with iron rods near the Black Sea town of Sozopol—apparently a typical treatment for those suspected of post-mortal malfeasance until the early 1900s there. About 100 such skeletons have been uncovered in Bulgaria alone. This summer in Poland, researchers unearthed remains that had their heads removed and placed in their laps—possibly a sign that whoever buried them wanted to hinder any potential future resurrection by making the vampire find its head first. One Italian village even buried a suspected vampire with a brick in her mouth.”
What Vampire Graves Tell Us About Ancient Superstitions | The Atlantic