Thursday, September 22, 2011

Maria Varga, Hungarian Serial Killer - 1930



FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): Budapest, Thursday. - What is regarded as probably the worst Hungarian poisoning drama was unfolded at Szolnok When Maria Varga was charged to-day with poisoning her husband, also her lover, Michael Ambros. The story goes that the husband was Hungary’s first soldier to be blinded in the war, being the victim when a shell burst on Russian frontier. His wife was disgusted at being so burdened, and gave him the coolest reception. She called in a “widow-maker,” Aunti Susi. Her husband died in agony after the second dose of arsenic.

A story was circulated in the village as to how the ghost of the blinded soldier was seen tapping a stick round the churchyard, and tearing the sightless sockets of his eyes, as he went towards the farm. The widow declared that the house was haunted, and took in Ambros, who died in similar agony.

Maria’s defence was that she believed the “widow-maker’s” medicines were harmless.

[“Poison Drama. – ‘Widow-Maker’ Called In. - Two Dead.” The Advocate (Burnie, Tasmania), Feb. 8, 1930, p. 13]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Budapest, February 10. – The appalling spectacle of a woman, recently condemned to death, giving evidence against her former friend, in order that she should not go to the gallows alone, was a feature of the Szolnok case, when the trial of 31 women and three men prisoners was resumed.

The evidence was given against Maria Varga, aged 41, who was accused of having murdered her husband, Stefan, who was blinded in the war, her lover, Michael Ambrus, and her lover’s grandfather. The woman was led in wearing a velvet mantle and other finery.

For a time, the evidence was so weak, that an acquittal seemed certain. Her mother gave evidence that Stefan often spoke of suicide, as a release from blindness. Moreover, it was shown that Maria Varga did not, in fact, inherit the property when Ambrus’s grandfather died, and although Varga admitted she administered the fatal dose, she said she did not know it was poisonous. She explained that her husband was acquainted with Fazekas, a midwife, who committed suicide when the police came to arrest her. Maria added she understood it was a soothing draught Fazekas had given her husband.

However, the last witness for the prosecution, Frau Kardos, entirely changed the aspect of the case.

This once beautiful woman, who was condemned to death a few days ago for having murdered her husband and only son, came to the Court in the custody of gendarmes. She was also in a her finery, After taking the oath, she turned upon the cringing figure in the dock, and cried, “You know your statements about Suzanne Fazekas. All we villagers know that if Aunt Suzanne entered the house, it signified unavoidable death. Everybody knew Suzanne’s profession. She led astray all the women in the village. Whenever she darkened the door of a village home, some unwanted man or woman soon died.” I heard  you promise the midwife 500 weights of wheat if she killed your husband.”

Frau Kardos concluded by describing Stefan’s death agony in detail, and while the crowded Court shuddered with horror, she added. “I killed my own husband and son, so I know how they die. I am condemned, and I do not want the other murderess to escape.

Varga angrily denied the charges, but Kardos’s damning evidence was sufficient, for Varga was found guilty of having murdered her husband.

Kardos, however, missed her final vengeance, as Varga was sentenced to imprisonment for life. Despite the public prosecutor’s demanding the death sentence, the Court decided it had not been proved she murdered Ambrus, although the woman admitted the could not explain how such an enormous quantity of arsenic got into her lover’s body. There was also lack of evidence of how the grandfather died.

The body of another peasant Peter Hegedues, was exhumed to-day. He died in 1914, and It is believed he was poisoned with cucumber salad containing rat poison.

[“Apalling Case. - Hungarian Poisoning Charges. - Condemned Woman Called as Witness.” The Townsville Daily Bulletin (N. Queensland, Australia), Feb. 1, 1930, p. 7; “Apalling” as in original.]

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3 Victims:

Stefan Varga, husband, blind
Lover, Michael Ambros (”Ambrus”)
grandfather of Michael Ambros

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Note: There is a possible confusion with another case, Sijj, in the following account: “Maria Varga killed seven members of her family, considering the death of her husband in particular a Christmas present to herself.” [Katherine Ramsland “Angels Of Death: The Female Nurses - Murder By Proxy,” True TV website]

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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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For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.

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