Friday, September 23, 2011

Esther Sarac, Hungarian Serial Husband-Killing Maven - 1890


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 3): At Mitrowitz, in Hungary, the trial is about to commence of ten women and a man who are accused of (and have confessed to) poisoning not only their husbands, but other persons who were in their way. There was literally a society of poisoners, advising and helping each other, so that some of the women are implicated in all the murders. The poison used was arsenic, obtained from fly papers, and was administered in the victims’ food and drink. One of the accused, Eva Sarac, who taught all the others their terrible trade, died in prison some time ago. The victims are supposed to number over fifty.

[“Fifty Women Prisoners.” The New York Times (N.Y.), Jul. 13, 1890, p. 4]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 3):  Modern historians distrust the stories of the Roman poisoner Locusta, and of the women who in Italy sold aqua tofana as the best means of satisfying jealousy or hate or greed; but the Hungarian tribunals are trying a case which makes all those legends possible. No less than ten women in the town of Mitrovitz are charged with poisoning their husbands with arsenic obtained from fly papers, and they are only a section of the women originally arrested or suspected. They were all apparently taught by a single woman, Esther Sarac, a local witch or herbalist, who deliberately instructed at least once disciple, and probably many more. The poisonings, some sixty in number, were done with little precaution, and cover a space of more than ten years, during all which time a vague suspicion has been floating about. The evidence against the women under trial is said to be overwhelming, and most of them have saved trouble by pleading guilty. They are all peasants, and probably a low order of intelligence; but the revelation throws a strange light on the true value of much of modern “progress.” In Hungary, at all events, it does not prevent epidemics of crime, though no doubt the improvement of chemical analysis helps the authorities in detecting and punishing the guilty.

[“Women Poisoners.” (from The Spectator (London, England, Jul. 5, 1890, p. 3); New York Times (N.Y.), Aug 3, 1890, p. 18]

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FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 3): The Assize Court of Mitrowitz, in Hungary, has concluded the trial of 10 peasant women arraigned for poisoning their husbands. Four of the prisoners were sentenced to death, one to penal servitude for life, three to 15 years’ penal servitude, and two were acquitted. The evidence (the Times correspondent says) would have been enough to hang eight out of the 10 in England, for it disclosed that the murderesses acted with the most cold-blooded premeditation; nor were their crimes extenuated it any way by ill treatment received at their husbands’ hands. On the contrary, the husbands seem to have been good fellows, and it does not appear that their wires cherished any strong animosity against them. One of the women said that she killed her husband because she had a neighbor who had poisoned hers. Another confessed that her only object in committing murder had been that she might have a little less work to do. As the Emperor of Austria never signs a death warrant against a woman, those who have been sentenced to the gallows will not be executed.


[Untitled, The Northern Argus (Clare, New Zealand), Aug. 15, 1890, p. 3]

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LOCATION: Mitrovitz – Sremska Mitrovica is a city and municipality located in the Vojvodina province, Serbia, on the left bank of the Sava river. As of 2011 the town had a total population of 37,751, while Sremska Mitrovica administrative area had a population of 79,940. It is the administrative centre of the Srem District of Serbia.

Once a capital of the Roman Empire during the Tetrarchy, the city was referred to as the glorious mother of cities. Likewise, ten Roman Emperors were born in or near this city, Emperors Herennius Etruscus (251), Hostilian (251), Decius Traian (249-251), Claudius II (268-270), Quintillus (270), Aurelian (270-275), Probus (276-282), Maximianus Herculius (285-310), Constantius II (337-361) and Gratian (367-383). [Wikipedia]

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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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