Sunday, September 25, 2011

This Charity Would Help Wives Learn How to Murder Husbands (and Get Away With It) - Serbia, 1926

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): Belgrade, Jugoslavia — A club of women poisoners under the guise of a charitable organization with the significant name of “Lucretia” has been raided by the police.

Police asserted that at secret meetings the club members were taught the medieval art of mixing and administering poisons. Six women who were unhappily married were declared thus to have found means of ridding themselves of their husbands. The remains of these were exhumed and in two cases toxicologists have found traces of poison.

Five women of the club were charged with being the ringleaders of the organization and arrested.

[“Club Of Women Poisoners Is Unearthed In Belgrade,” syndicated (AP), The Galveston Daily News (Tx.), Oct. 20, 1926, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Everybody in the little Jugoslavian town of Nagy Kikinda thought the women’s club of Saint Lucretia was a very respectable society and above suspicion, until the number of deaths among the male population showed a striking increase which nobody could explain. Rumors arose. It was found that many of the men who died had been married to or were friends of women who were members of the Saint Lucretia club, that their deaths had been more or less unexpected and that there was a striking resemblance of the circumstances under which they took place.

Every one of the dead men had been wealthy and respected in the little community. Some of the widows spent more money than they had ever done before, purchased costly clothes, automobiles, and led the lives of grandes dames. When things had developed so far, somebody remembered that Saint Lucretia had a namesake who was one of the worst poisoners in history, namely Lucretia Borgia, the daughter of Pope Alexander VI [note: the name “Lucretia Borgia” had been synonymous with “female serial killer” until research in the mid-20th century showed that her homicidal reputation was based on legend, not fact] This stirred the suspicion that the women’s club was not named after the saint, but after Lucretia Borgia, and that it really was a league of poisoners.

At first there was no absolute proof of these dreadful suspicions, but the police considered them sufficiently grave to arrest several of the members of the club, among them the ringleader, who disappeared when she smelled danger, but was so imprudent as to return to Nagy Kikinda because she believed her social position and that of her friends would be sufficient protection. Her husband was among the persons who died recently from a sudden illness.

The police had meanwhile found out that one of the women made frequent  excursions abroad and supplied the necessary poison, which she obtained from chemists under some pretext or other. Naturally, the little town is in seething excitement and the scandal is great.

The unprecedented criminal affair had a tragic-comical result. The men of Nagy Kikinda have been caught by a general panic. None of them had ever thought of  the faint possibility of an organization for the purpose of their removal by poison. Certainly not in their social circles. Who could still trust his wife or fiancée in such a depraved milieu? Thus it happened that numerous men left their families because they were not certain whether their wives were secret members of the Lucretia club. Engagements were dissolved, and new arrests are hourly expected. It will take women in Nagy Kikinda a long time to win back the confidence of the male part of the population.

[“Woman’s Murder Society Forces Husbands From Town in Terror – Police in Jugoslavian Village Hold Modern Borgias on Charge of poisoning Rich Mates; News Causes Men to Break Engagements and Leave Families,” New York Herald-Tribune (N. Y.), Oct. 17, 1926, part III, p. 2]



NOTE: Such organizations were common in eastern Europe (primarily in the Austro-Hungarian Empire) from the mid-1800s through the 1930s. They claimed many hundreds of victims. What was unusual about this one was its brazenness: it was publicly promoted as a charity.


Kikinda (Serbian Cyrillic: Кикинда, pronounced is a town and a municipality in Serbia, in the autonomous province of Vojvodina. It is the administrative centre of the North Bana District. The town has 38,065 inhabitants, while the municipality has 59,453 inhabitants.



For more than two dozen similar cases, dating from 1658 to 2011, see the summary list with links see: The Husband-Killing Syndicates


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