Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Poisoned Brandy Husband-Killing Syndicate - 1901

FULL TEXT: The poisoning case just discovered at Kisoda, in Southern Hungary, says the Vienna correspondent of the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ in his letter of the 22nd November, may well be called a chapter of frightful crimes. Instances in which wives rid themselves of inconvenient husbands and girls did away with lovers whom they no longer wanted increased there appallingly. From time to time wholesale poisoning took place in single villages. In such cases the attention of the police is excited by the numerous deaths. Inquiry is made, and then it turns out that the original suspicion is more than justified by the facts. So it was some year ago at Hodmezo-Vasarhely, and so also in the Comitat of Temesvar in Southern Hungary. Most of the inhabitants are farm labourers.

In that village lived a man who had the reputation of being a magician. He asked a high price for the wonder-working medicines be sold. Not only from Kisoda, but from all ports of Southern Hungary, came his customers, consisting for the greater part of women and girls, and without much haggling, bought his physic. About two year ago a mysterious disease began to carry off the men of his village. Healthy people were suddenly taken ill without apparent to save them, although medical help was at once called in. In a few days they died. After a very short time their widow married. Also young fellows whose sweet hearts feared them because of their jealousy died in the same unaccountable manner. These uncanny occurrences at last excited the suspicions of the gendarmes. They laid the facts before the Court of Justice, and it gave orders for the exhumation of the last men who had died and the examination of their remains.

The execution of this order met with unexpected difficulties. When the commission had the graves of the men who had died within the last few weeks opened, it became plain that the inscription on the graves had been falsified. The corpses of such persons as had born buried scarcely a month were quite decomposed. It was discovered that the crosses had been interchanged, obviously with a view to frustrating the judicial investigation. Consequently long and troublesome inquiries were necessary for the identification of any desired graves. The bodies that were then exhumed were dissected, and it was proved beyond all doubt that in no less than eighteen cases arsenical poisoning had taken place. The widows and sweethearts of the murdered men were arrested, as likewise Petar, the magician. In his house were found several bottles of brandy containing a solution of arsenic. The magic draught that be had sold was the poison by means of which the inhuman wives and girls had got rid of their husbands and lovers. The suspicion of having used the poisoned brandy is spreading, and fresh examinations ordered.

[“Epidemic Of Poisoning In Hungary. - Eighteen Men Killed.” The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia), Jan. 12, 1901, p. 38]

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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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