Sunday, September 25, 2011

Makrena Stankovic, Husband-Killing Syndicate Matron - 1890


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2):– Marriage must be deemed a failure, at all events in the District of Mitrovitz, at which town ten women are now taking their trial on the charge of poisoning their husbands by means of arsenic, procured, as suggested in the Staybrick case, from flypapers. The accused are Makrena Stankovic, residing at Bingula, aged forty-eight, with one child, and charged with administering arsenic to her husband, niece, father-in-law and a neighbor, and also with having supplied arsenic which caused the death of five other persons poisoned by their wives; Nata Nestoroy, aged forty-eight, mother of four children, living at Bingula, charged with poisoning her husband with arsenic; Milica Plavsic, aged fifty-three, mother of one child, living at Divuscha, and charged with having aided and abetted the two last named prisoners in poisoning their husbands by buying fly-papers for them at Neasatz; Stephanie Illoie Bailie, aged forty-nine, mother of one child, living at Bingula, and charged with poisoning her husband with arsenic; Mara Danilovic Savkaric, aged thirty-six, married, living at Erdevic, and charged with having by the same means poisoned her husband and another man, Jela Radojeic Ostojic, aged thirty-nine, mother of four children, residing at Erdevic; Stevka Jagmasevic, aged fifty-four, with three children, residing at Erdevic; Ljuha Djakovic Illinaeki, fifty years old, mother of one child, living at Erdevic; Ljuba Gavrilovic, aged thirty-eight, with three children, all charged with poisoning their husbands by administering arsenic; Sremcic, thirty-five years old, charged with providing the poison which caused his brother’s death, and, finally, Milda Maralic, aged sixty, living at Nestin, charged with poisoning a woman.

All the prisoners are peasants and belong to the Greek orthodox religion. They are all accused of murder, excepting Simon Sremcic and Milieu Placsio. The judicial expert, a chemist from Agram, declared that the traces of arsenic in the human body would be perceptible in the hair and beard long after complete decomposition of the intestines, his testimony was borne out by the condition of several bodies exhumed in connection with the Mitrovitz trial. The deaths occurred in 1880, 1883, 1884, 1884, 1885, 1886 and 1888, yet distinct traces of arsenic were found. In each case it had been obtained from fly papers. Each sheet contained forty-five centigrammes of the poisonous drug, whereas ten to fifteen centigrammes are enough to cause the death of a strong man—therefore one paper would suffice to kill three to four people. According to partial confessions made by some of the accused, their victims did not all suffer the same length of time.

In certain instances death followed rapidly, while in others it came on gradually. Eva Sarac, who died in prison last October, was the instigator of these various crimes. She was a kind of village witch, who prepared love draughts for the girls of the locality as well as poison for the men. Fly-papers were often fetched for her from Neusatz by the woman Plavszic, and before her death she confessed to having supplied Stankovic and Nestorov with arsenic to poison their husbands. Makreua Stankovic, the leading personage in this terrible drama, was undoubtedly a pupil of Sarac. She lived with her niece, whom she robbed of 100 florins. The latter threatened to prosecute her, but was taken suddenly ill and died.

[“Ten Husband Poisoners. - Wives Who Sent Their Partners to Death With Fly Paper.” Syndicated (Vienna Cor. London Telegraph), St. Paul Sunday Globe (Mn.), Nov. 9, 1890, p. 1]


EXCERPT (from article on multiple murder cases):

~ A Wholesale Murder Plot. ~

A wholesale example will now be placed upon record, a peculiarly atrocious one, the scene being a village in Austro- Hungary, near Mitrowitz.

Here, in the year 1890, a number of women of the peasant class – some twelve or thirteen in all – conspired together to poison their husbands. The plan they adopted was as follows: – At christening parties in their part of the country it is customary for little cakes, made of flour and honey, flavoured with various strong essences, and coloured yellow with saffron, to be eaten. These nativity cakes, as they are called, are not prepared by the person who is giving the party, but are sent as presents by all the friends and relatives of the family for miles around.

Taking advantage of these two circumstances, the plotters arranged that whenever a christening was about to take place at any one of their respective homes one of the others was to post them from some neighbouring town a parcel of poisoned nativity cokes. Yellow orpiment, a preparation of arsenic, was the poison decided upon for the purpose, it being argued that its colour harmonised well with the saffron which, as has already been explained, was one of the usual ingredients, while its bitter taste would be effectually disguised by the strong flavouring essences.

It would be difficult to find, in the annals of human crime and wickedness, a more horrible plot than was this one. Think of it! An occasion sacred to the celebration of the advent into the world, or, rather, reception into the Church of its forefathers, of a new-born babe, was to be utilised in order to hurry out of the world one of the authors of its being; and this, too, in a most cruel and callous manner, since death from poisoning by arsenic is one of the most agonising it is possible to conceive of. Further, as a crowning touch of horror, the hideous crime was to be perpetrated with the connivance, if not the active participation, of the baby’s mother, the victim, of course, being her own husband, and the father of her innocent child.

~ Murder Cakes. ~

The diabolical plan worked smoothly enough in four instances. The doomed man in each case ate of the poisoned cakes, and died soon afterwards in torment. In the confusion that ensued upon his sudden illness the plotters made away with the of the doctored cakes, so that when the others come to be analysed nothing deleterious was found in them. It seemed, indeed, as if the number of deaths amongst the remaining husbands was only to he limited, as to time and so forth, by the number of babies born to their respective wives.

Fortunately, however, the fifth husband had his suspicions aroused when his him came, and refused the proffered cakes. This upset, of course, the plans of the coterie of murderesses. Not only that! They became alarmed and one of them tried to regain possession by force of two of the poisoned cakes, which the man had pocketed with a view to having them analysed. Something like a free fight ensued. The police were called in, and, by and by, inquiries revealed the whole hideous plot. Two or three of the women implicated committed suicide, but ten were arrested and put upon their trial. Of these four were sentenced to death, four to penal servitude for life, while the remaining two were, for some not very apparent reason, acquitted.

[“Murder By Post,” Lloyd’s Weekly News (London, England, Feb. 7, 1915, p. 5]

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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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