NOTE: Some English language sources give the spelling as “Rayya” for the one sister and offer the following full name for the other: “Sekina Aly Hammam.”
The sisters Abdel-Al, Raya and Sakina were convicted, along with their husbands and two other accomplices, on May 16, 1921 of 17 murders of women in the Labban quarter of the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. The sisters were operators of four underground “houses of depravity.” Their victims were visitors some of whom were prostitutes, others married women using the facilities for trysts.
Their murder spree began in November 1919. The public became aware of the serial murders of women only in November of the following year when Al-Ahram newspaper displayed the shocking headline: “Women slaughtered in Labban: 12 corpses unearthed.” The murderers’ confessions revealed that they would drug the victims by offering them a drink, then strangle them, working as a team, each with a specific task: “one of the killers would clamp his hands over the victim’s mouth, another would grab hold of her throat, a third would hold her hands behind her back and the fourth would pin down her feet until she stopped breathing. Abdel-Aal was in charge of holding the feet.”
The trial of Raya and Sakina lasted three days, from May 10th to the 12th in 1921. On May 16, 1921, the court issued the death sentence against Raya and Sakina, their husbands and two “thugs” who had taken part in the actual murders of the 17 women.
For a thorough history of the case see Al-Ahram Weekly, June 1999
The woman Sekina entered the box, and after smoothing her hair and draping the folds of her gown to her satisfaction, recited her crimes without the flicker of an eyelid or a change in the calm confidence of her expression.
“I myself have cut the throats of six women,” she began. “My first victim was called Hanem. I leaned over Hanem as if to whisper in her ear. Soon after death had passed.”
The second victim came to sell her something. The killing of this woman was attended to by another member of the band, as Sekina “had to 50 out to buy some medicine for her sore feet.” She gave the order, and when she returned the victim was stretched on the floor. “Death had passed,” Sekina said again.
Her third victim was a young girl she had lured by promising to tell her fortune. As she dealt the cards she made a sign with her eves to an accomplice, and “death passed that way.” This peculiar phrase was used by the murderess in connection with each crime.
“After a throat-cutting or smothering we took off the jewellery and searched for the valuables, which were divided. I had to look sharp to make sure I was not cheated out of my share.”
Once she tried to sever her connection with the other murderers, but was unable, to do so, and she was obliged regretfully to take an active part in the earring of “a dear friend’s” throat, for fear of tie other members of this horrible society. Details of the disposal of the bodies followed.
[“‘Death Passed That Way.’ - Murderess Recites Her Crimes.” The Auckland Star (Australia), Apr. 30, 1921, p. 1]
FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): Alexandria, Sunday. – The search for the bodies of the 42 women who have mysteriously disappeared here during the last 18 months has resulted in the discovery of 14 more corpses, making a total of 32 found. A quantity of bones has also been discovered the identity of which has not yet been established.
Ten corpses were found in one room in the house of a procuress named Sekina, who has confessed her responsibility for most of the murders. All these bodies were neatly buried under the floor in two rows feet to feet.
Some of the murdered. women were of the poor and respectable class; others native prostitutes who, it is believed, were murdered for the sake of their jewellery.
A number of other houses previously inhabited by members of Sekina's gang are being searched.
The police believe that there have been many murders of a similar nature during the last 4 or 5 years.
About 18 arrests have been made. These people seem to have made no profit out of their alleged crimes as they were living in the most wretched conditions.— Reuter.
The discoveries began, as stated by our Cairo correspondent on Friday, with a body in a drain of a house which a woman recently left. Searching the house of this woman's sister, the police found two bodies buried under the floor.
[“Female ‘Bluebeard.’ – Confesses To Share Of 32 Murders.” Daily Mail (London, England), Nov. 22, 1920, p. 10]
Photos from: George Owen Hastings, “Solving the Startling Mystery of a Woman-Bluebeard,” syndicated, Washington Post (D.C.), Jan. 16, 1921, Magazine Section]