Graverobbers have stolen from a crypt the head of German expressionist cinema great Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, director of the silent-film vampire classic "Nosferatu", reports said Wednesday.
Police did not rule out an occultist motive after finding candle wax in the family crypt in Stahnsdorf southwest of Berlin and were investigating the case on charges of theft and disturbing the peace of the dead.
One or more grave robbers opened the metal coffin before decapitating the director's embalmed body but did not disturb the remains of his two brothers, reported Bild daily and national news agency DPA.
Born in 1888, Murnau is best known for his 1922 silent movie classic "Nosferatu -- A Symphony of Horror", which Hollywood magazine Variety wrote is "recognised as one of the scariest horror movies of all time".
Murnau later moved to Hollywood where he directed "Sunrise", which won several Academy Awards. He died in a 1931 car crash near Santa Barbara, California, and his body was repatriated to his native Germany.