Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Gaetana Stimoli, Sicilian Female Serial Killer Murders 23 Children Out of “Revenge” - 1895

NOTE: The correct spelling appears to be "Stimoli," rather than "Stomoli."


EXCERPT (Article 1 of 4): And now, when one “irresponsible delinquent” [Callisto Grandi] has finally been acknowledged to be such and detained in an asylum, we are startled by an infanticidal outbreak of appalling cold-bloodedness – twenty-three children poisoned by one of those semi-lunatics who pose as “witches.” At Aderno, in the province of Catania in Sicily, a woman thirty-three years of age, Gaetana Stimoli by name, made it a practice to allure little children to her den with sweatmeats, after which she gave them a drink of wine containing undiluted phosphoric acid. The victims barely got home when they were seized with agonising pains, in which they died. The woman, having been arrested, at first denied her guilt, but then made a full confession, from which it appeared that, having lost two children of her own, she believed their death had been caused by incantation – “erano stato strogati” (they had been bewitched) was her expression — and to avenge them she poisoned the children of others! The woman’s den was minutely searched and found to contain all the armoury or “stock-in-trade” of witchcraft, phosphorus included, while at the necropsy of her victims the evidence of poisoning by phosphoric acid was fully made out. The incident has created a profound impression throughout the kingdom, where similar cases (one victim having been boiled to death in a cauldron containing so-called “medicinal” herbs) are reported from nearly every province. The public are gradually becoming aware that Italy’s expensive and ineffectual penal system is one gigantic illustration of “beginning at the wrong end,” and that some such educational system as that which her medico-psychologists recommend can alone protect her from the homicidal explosions by which her daily life is periodically saddened.

[“Rome. An Epidemic of Infanticide.” The Lancet (London, England), Oct. 19, 1895, p. 1012]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 4): Catania, Sicily, Oct. 13.— A woman known as Gaetana Stomoli has been arrested for the wholesale poisoning of children with phosphorus. She administered the poison by mixing it with wine and prevailing upon the children to drink the mixture. Her victims already number 23. It is stated that they all died in fearful agony.

The woman has confessed to having committed the deed, and offered as an explanation that she wanted revenge for the death of two of her own children, who had been bewitched. A crowd of people attempted to lynch the unnatural wretch, and were prevented with great difficulty.
[“Poisoned 23 Children. - A Woman Arrested In Sicily For Wholesale Poisoning – She Confesses.” syndicated, Evening Democrat (Warren, Pa.), Oct. 13, 1895, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 4): Palermo – A woman has been arrested at Aderno, 17 miles southwest of Catania, on the charge of poisoning children. After her arrest she confessed that she had poisoned 23 children, her object being to avenge the death of her 2 sons, whose taking off she declared was due to witchcraft by the relatives of the child victims. The bodies of 10 have been found in the places whose taking where she said she caused them to be buried. The woman is not believed to have been alone in the crime and 7 persons who are supposed to have been her accomplices are also under arrest.

[“Hideous Poisoner – Of 23 Children for Revenge Upon Those Thought to be Guilty of Witchcraft in Italy.” The Reading Eagle (Pa.), Oct. 12, 1895, p. 3]


EXCERPT (Article 4 of 4): Come l'idea di una subita malia possa per vendetta trascinare ai più gravi reati di sangue, è pure dimostrato da quanto avvenne nell'antunno 1895 in Adernò (Catania). Dieci ragazzi, intorno ai dieci anni, morirono in breve tempo per causa ignota. Si venne a scoprire ch'erano stati tutti avvelenati da certa Gaetana Stimoli, che volle in questo modo vendicare un figlio ch'essa credette morto in causa di stregonerie. La terribile madre comparve alle Assise di Catania: i periti la ritennero inferma di mente e quindi irresponsabile; lo stesso Pubblico Ministero ammise il vizio parziale di mente; i giurati esclusero qualsiasi alterazione mentale e la condannarono a trent'anni di reclusione, con soddisfazione del pubblico, dissero i giornali di quei giorni; di quel pubblico, aggiungo io, ch'era animato dallo stesso spirito di vendetta che aveva trascinata quella disgraziata al suo pazzesco reato.

Se a tanto può condurre la vendetta per malìa subita, come debbono apparire pericolosi coloro che coi loro consulti mantengono vive queste superstizioni fra il credulo popolino!

[Salvatore Ottolenghi, La suggestione e le facoltà psichiche occulte in rapporto alla pratica Legali e Medico-Forense, Fratelli Boca, Torino, 1900, p. 377]



For more Real Life Ogresses see: Ogresses: Female Serial Killers of the Children of Others


1 comment:

  1. a very informative blog. I had never heard of many of these people