Monday, April 27, 2015

Julie St. Joseph, Serial Killer Vamp – Russia, circa 1870s


The following text is the final segment of an episode taken from from the memoirs of Michael Danevitch, chief of the Supreme Bureau of the Russian Police (the “secret police”), edited and published in book form in English in1897. It tells the story of a French adventuress, Madame Julie St. Joseph, who had lived in St. Petersburg for some time. She was about 40 years of age during the course of events described here. Two murders and another attempted murder are recounted.

The story opens with descriptions of two mysterious deaths, those of Col. Ignatof and his heir Capt. Peter Baranoff, which investigation reveals to be cases of murder, and closes with the attempted murder of Michael Danevitch under the assumed identity of Count Prebenski.” The total count of Madame St. Joseph’s victims is, we are told, “numerous there was not the slightest doubt.” The poison she and her accomplice employed was black hellebore (holleborus niger).

Note: The name “Julie St. Joseph” appears on page 56 of the cited source.

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EXCERPT: Subsequent revelations brought to light that the wretched woman had been in the habit of luring men to their doom by means of her fatal beauty. She bled them of their money, her plan being to cajole them into giving her a lien on any property they might possess. This was most artfully worked by the aid of Vlassovsky, and when the victim had been securely caught, he was poisoned. The poisons were concocted by Madame St. Joseph herself, and when she could not do it herself, Roko administered the fatal dose or doses. She had picked up this man in Spanish America, where she had been for some time, and weaving her spell about him, had made him absolutely her slave.

Vlassovsky, who, up to the time that he made her acquaintance, had been an honest, industrious man, fell under the magic of her influence, as most men did, and became her all-too-willing tool. His nature once corrupted, all scruples were thrown to the winds, and he hastened to try and enrich himself. It seemed that the miserable woman really loved him, and though he was fatally fascinated with her, he was afraid of her; and, as he confessed, his aim was to accumulate money as quickly as possible, and then flee from her and the country for ever. But unfortunately for himself, during that memorable interview following Captain Baranoff’s death, he had aroused the suspicions of Danevitch, whose marvelous perceptive facilities had enabled him to detect something or another in Vlassovsky’s manner, or answers to the questions put to him, which made him suspicious. For Danevitch to become suspicious meant that he would never rest until he had proved his suspicions justified or unfounded.

It need scarcely be said that with her arrest in St. Petersburg Madame St. Joseph’s career came to an end. From the moment that Danevitch entered her house her doom was sealed. Believing him to be the person he represented himself to be, she begged of him to help her financially; and, seeming to yield to her entreaties, he drew up a document which purported to make over to her at his death certain estates in Poland. Of course, these estates had no existence. Having secured him, as she thought, her next step was to poison him by small doses of black hellebore, so that he might gradually sicken and die.

Her devilish cunning was evidenced in every step she took. She would not appear in public with him, nor did she allow any of the visitors to her house to see him. Consequently it would not be generally known that she had associated with him. As his illness developed by means of repeated doses, she would have had him removed to a hotel, and she knew pretty well that, as in Colonel Ignatof’s case, he would shrink from letting it be known that he had been intimate with her. Her cunning, however, overreached itself; she was defeated with her own weapons; Danevitch had been too much for her. The poisoned barley-tea he submitted to analysis, and the evidence against her was overwhelming. But when she found that there was no hope, she was determined to defeat justice, and one morning she was found dead in her cell: she had poisoned herself with prussic acid. The acid was conveyed to her by a warder, who was heavily bribed by one of her friends to do it. It cost him his liberty, however, for he was sent to Northern Siberia for the term of his natural life.

Roko died very soon afterwards from typhoid fever contracted in the prison, but he was faithful to the last, for never a word could be wrung from his lips calculated to incriminate the strange woman who had thrown such a spell around him. Vlassovsky was deported to Northern Siberia in company with the treacherous warder. He very soon succumbed, however, to the awful hardships he was called upon to endure and the rigours of the Arctic climate.

The number of Madame St. Joseph’s victims was never determined. That they were numerous there was not the slightest doubt; and had it not been for the cleverness of Danevitch she would probably have continued to pursue her infamous career for years longer, and ultimately have passed away in the odour of sanctity. Her downfall, it need scarcely be said, caused great satisfaction in St. Petersburg and Moscow, where she had destroyed so many of her victims.

[Dick Donovan (Pseud, James Edward Preston), “A Modern Borgia” (pp. 33- 59), from: The Chronicles Of Michael Danevitch Of The Russian Secret Service , London Chatto & Windus 1897; quoted segment: pp. 57-59]

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For more cases like this one, see: Vamps – Femmes Fatales – Predatory Women

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Maria Dunne, Irish Baby Farmer Serial Killer - 1898


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): In the Southern Division Police Court to-day a woman named Maria Dunne, described as a widow, residing at Inchicore, was charged with causing the death of children under their care, and with having neglected others.

Mr. Clegg, the Crown solicitor, said that the prisoner would show a shocking and barbarous state of things. – Sergeant Thomas Conlon stated that when he visited the house between 3 and 4 p. m. on Monday he found two children lying dead on a couch. There were four other children there, the eldest about four years. He was not so bad as the others. One of the dead children, Leo Mole, was merely skin and bone – there was no flesh. The child O’Grady did not appear to be far gone. The prisoner said to him, “I hope I won’t get into trouble over this. I will give you something for yourself if you say nothing about it. I would not like it to get into the paper. I will give you half-a-sovereign for yourself if you say nothing about it.” The dead children were in the house yet awaiting the inquest. He removed the other children. He saw no food about the house that the children should get. The eldest of the living children in the house appeared healthy, and was not a subject of a charge. He asked the prisoner if she had any other children besides the dead ones in the house. She said she had two. He asked to see them, and she brought up the two children named Wallace and Sutton. The first appeared to be well cared for, and the other was in a bad condition and duty. He asked had she other children. She said “No.” He searched the house, and found near the kitchen another child, Eugene Pyle, one and a half year old. It was tied with a string on a chair near a basket, and was hanging motionless on the right side and apparently dead. He took it up and found it in a filthy condition. It screamed when he tried to straighten out of the position it was in it had the top of a sucking bottle attached to a spool in its mouth. On further search he found in a cradle another infant, George O’Connell, not quite three months old. It was rolled up in filthy rags, in lying on straw in the cradle. Two empty sucking bottles were lying near. He brought these children to the South Dublin Union. The accused alleged to him that she did not know the parents of one of the children. She said that the child O’Connell was driven in a cab to the door when it was about nine days old by a woman, whom she thought would state who its mother was, and who gave her £10 to take the child. The child was rarely three months old now. In the case of all the other children she said that there were weekly and monthly payments were made for them, but that they were nearly all in arrears now. He asked who were the parents. She gave him several addresses. He went to all these places, and there were no such people there at all. He telegraphed to Linden, where she gave another address, and there was no such person there as she named.

A daughter of the accused woman was examined, identified the following letter as being in the handwriting of her mother: -- “Dear James, -- This morning the other found dead. I never went to the doctor with him. Skin and bone the child is. Will you get the cash for him? I will give £1, for I will sell my piano for it. I am gone if you don’t. Don’t let money stop you. Will sell anything. Two children dead.”

The witness further said that her mother had been paid 10s. a month for two months for one of the dead children – O’Grady. The child was there three months. It was eight months there. Her mother fed the children with milk and cornflour. The two children were not ailing before their death, except an odd time. One of them died in a fit. Her mother went for Dr. Louis Byrne, High-street, and her sister for Dr. Attock, Inchicore, but both were out. The mother took the child to Dr. Byrne.

Dr. Boyce deposed that he saw the children about 7:30 the previous evening. Leo Mole was very emaciated in the body, face, and limbs. He appeared to have been dead about ten hours. He attributed death to malnutrition, which might be caused either by improper feeding or want of feeling. The child had not been properly cared for. The other child, Henry O’Grady, was emaciated in the limbs, and the head and body were swollen. He had been dead for some time. He could not say the cause of death. The child was in a neglected state.

The accused was remanded pending further inquiry.

[“Baby Farming Near Dublin. - “Shocking And Barbarous” Neglect.” The Manchester Gaurdian (England), Ayg. 18, 1898, p. 10]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 2): A shocking ease of baby farming was investigated by a Dublin city magistrate on August 18, when a widow named Maria Dunn was charged with having caused the death of two children, aged 5 and 8 months respectively, by not providing them with.necessary sustenance and with having neglected three other children of 10, 8, and 3 months respectively. The evidence given by the police witnesses showed that the children had been found in the prisoner's house in a fearful condition of emaciation and filth, that the prisoner tried to bribe a police sergeant not to say anything about it, and that the addresses she gave as those of the children’s parents were found to be false. The prisoner was remanded till August 23, the magistrates refusing bail. After the termination of the inquiry it was discovered by the police that in addition to the children found dead in the prisoner's residence one of the other children brought to the South Dublin Union Hospital had died owing to the wretched condition to which it had been reduced. It is very rarely that so shocking a case of baby farming is found in Dublin.

[“Shocking Charge of Baby Farming.” The Telegraph (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia), Oct. 7, 1898, p. 2]

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For more cases of “Baby Farmers,” professional child care providers who murdered children see The Forgotten Serial Killers.

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Catherine Csassna, Slovakian Suspected Black Widow Serial Killer - 1880


FULL TEXT: At a town called Verbo, in Hungary [currently in Slovakia], not long since, a woman named Catherine Csassna buried her seventh husband. Her life appears to have been a strange succession of matrimonial adventures, none of which were very startling, but all of which make up a curious total. At the age of seventeen the buxom Catherine espoused a maker, who died after fifteen months of connubial felicity. The following year she married an aged widower, who said goodbye to her at the end of thirteen months. She remained a widow this time but one month, marrying for her third another widower, who lasted but four years. Doubtless determined to make a good choice sooner or later, she married a stout young fellow of twenty-eight; but in just four years he also died of consumption. Catherine remained a widow eight weeks, at the end of which time she married the village butcher, a fine fellow; but alas he was doomed to fade away, and in six years a cross in the little cemetery announced that he had gone over to the majority. For her sixth husband Catherine Csassna selected a man so robust and massive in physique that all the villagers in Verbo that he would survive Catherine, and great was the surprise and scandal when, four months after the celebration of the nuptials, this son of Anak was placed in the cheerless tomb. Many persons accused Catherine of being a female Bluebeard, of poisoning her unfortunate husbands, etc., but she snapped her fingers at them, and asked them to produce their proofs. As they could not well do this, the doughty Catherine married again, and, to the surprise and horror of every one, husband number seven cruelly deceived her by turning up his toes only a few days after the marriage. Catherine is now seeking an eighth husband, but all the men in Verbo tremble.

[“Much Married.” Vermont Phoenix (Battleboro, Vt.), Aug. 13, 1880, p. 1]

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FULL TEXT (translated from German): As a Pest newspaper from Verbo reports, a woman there, named Katharina Csassna, has three days ago her seventh husband to the grave. This woman has an interesting life story behind her, from which there are many surprising details to tell. She recalls the exact chronology of all her marriages and claims to have entered her first marriage in her seventeenth year. The first of her spouses was a brewer named Martin Bossak, who lived with her for only fifteen months, then died of withering. She was widowed for a year and then married Johann Hubicsek, who was also widowed and very elderly. With him she spent 13 years, then died of old age just in the hundredth year of his life.

She did not even mourn this man for a month, because she soon got married to the widower Martin Krchnik, who died of dropsy after four years. She mourned her third for nine months; then she managed to fish a man named Georg Nisznanszky, who was a young man at the age of 28. But even this marriage would not last long, because after four years our heroine was granted the opportunity to make a new marriage covenant. Nisznanszky died after four years of marriage from an unfortunate fall. After a mourning of eight weeks, the widow entered into a marriage with the butcher Josef Marczinka and spent six years with him.

When now he also died, she joined after a mourning of nine months with a tree-strong man named Josef Tomaskovics as a spouse. That was her sixth marriage; now Verba was generally convinced that this man would survive the woman. But after only four moons the sixth sank into the grave. Wept bitterly by the woman. The grave of the Sixth was not overgrown with grass yet, as the rumor spread that Csassna would take a seventh man in the person of the Master of the Masters, Josef Cilat, which actually took place. Now the Herculean woman buried this man too, and now only thinks of marrying again, and for the eighth time. The woman is 50 years old today, and she is still full of strength and health and can expect to bring her to twelve men.

["A woman burying seven spouses." Tages-Post (Linz, Austria), 9 Juli 1880, p. 2]

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FULL TEXT: Wie einem Pester Blatte aus Verbo berichtet wird, hat ein dortiges Weib, Namens Katharina Csaßna, vor drei Tagen ihren siebenten Gatten zu Grabe geführt. Dieses Weib hat eine interessante Lebensgeschichte hinter sich, aus der es viele überraschende Einzel heiten zu erzählen weiß. Sie erinnertsich genauder Chronologie aller ihrer Eheschließungen und gibt an, ihre erste Ehe in ihrem siebzehnten Lebensjahre eingegangen zu sein. Der erste ihrer Ehe gatten war ein Czischmenmachermeifter Namens Martin Boßak, der nur fünfzehn Monate mit ihr lebte, indem er dann an Abzehrung starb. Ein Jahr brachte sie als Witwe zu und ver heiratete sichdannmit Johann Hubicsek, der ebenfalls im verwitweten Zustande sich befand und sehr bejahrt war. Mit dem verlebte sie 13 Jahre, dann starber an Altersschwäche gerade im hundertsten Jahre seines Lebens.

Diesen Mann betrauerte sie nicht einmal einen Monat lang, denn alsbald vermälte sie sich mit dem Witwer Martin Krchnik, der nach vier Jahren an der Wassersucht starb. Sie beweinte ihren Dritten neun Monate lang; dann gelanges ihr wieder, einen Mann zuerfischen, der den Namen Georg Nisznanszky führte und ein junger Mensch mit 28 Jahren war. Doch auch diese Ehe sollte nicht lange währen, denn schon nach vier Jahren war es unserer Heldin beschieden, wieder einen neuen Ehebund schließen zu können. Nisznanszky ist schon nach vierjähriger Ehe dnrch einen unglücklichen Sturz um's Leben gekommen. Nach einer Trauer von acht Wochen ging die Witwe eine Heirat mit dem Fleischer Josef Marczinka ein und verlebte mit ihm sechs Jahre.

Als nun auch dieser starb, verband sie sich nach einer Trauer von neun Monaten mit einem baumstarken Manne Namens Josef Tomaskovics als Ehegattin. Das war ihre sechste Eheschließung; nun war man in Verba allgemein über zeugt, dieser Mann werde das Weib überleben. Aber schon nach kurzen vier Monden sank auch der Sechste in's Grab. Von dem Weibe bitterlich beweint. Noch war das Grab des Sechsten nicht mit Gras bewachsen, da verbreitete sich schon das Gerücht, die Csaßna werde einen siebenten Mann in der Person des Hafnermeisters Josef Cilat nehmen, was auch wirklich erfolgte. Nun bestattete das herkulische Weib auch diesen Mann und denkt auch jetzt nur daran, sich wieder und zwar zum achtenmale zu ver ehelichen. Die Frau ist heute 50 Jahre alt und strotzt noch von Kraft und Gesundheit und kann es voraussichtlich noch auf zwölf Männer bringen.

[“Ein Weib, das sieben Ehegatten begräbt.” Tages-Post (Linz, Austria), 9 Juli 1880, p. 2]

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Vrbové (German: Vrbau (modernized:Werbau); Hungarian: Verbó) is a town in the Trnava Region of Slovakia. It has a population of 6,309 as of 2005. The town lies around 8 km (5 mi) northwest from Piešťany.

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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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[559-6/17/19]
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Margaret Grant, Serial Poisoner – Staten Island, New York, 1867


FULL TEXT: A great sensation prevails on Staten Island, caused by the discovery of a dreadful poisoning case at the farm house of J. K. Jessup, in the town of Westfield, near Ellenville station, on the Staten Island Railroad. If the details as given are correct, and we have them from the highest authorities in the county, three persons, one an aged lady, have recently been poisoned to death by a woman named Margaret Grant, J. K. Jessup is a a wealthy farmer residing in the town of Westfield. Among his large force of farm hands recently were two young men named Archibald McClusky and John Dougherty: and among his help about the house and garden were a Mr. Grant and his wife Margaret.Nr. and Mrs. Grant who are both aged about twenty-five years, had been in the service of Mr. Jessup for a long time, for which reason they had frequently received little favors from him that the others did not. This, it seemed, had the effect to create an envious feeling among some of the hands; which resulted in occasional quarrels; and at one time. It is alleged, Mrs. Grant, in a fit of passion, threatened to take their lives, adding that she would “fix them.” This occurred about two months ago. In the latter part of the month of May, McClusky was taken suddenly ill, and despite the best medical aid, died in a short time. The threat of Mrs. Grant had almost been forgotten, and no one thought for a moment that she had been instrumental in causing his death. But a few days ago another incident occurred which aroused everybody’s suspicions. Young Dougherty arose one morning in his usual good health, partook of a hearty breakfast, and started to commence his day’s work at a mill some distance from the house. He had proceeded only a short distance when he became so thirsty that he was compelled to drink from a brook near by. The water did not slake his thirst in the least; and he continued to drink until prostrated by pain, when he was discovered and conveyed back to the house, and there died on the same day; his symptoms throughout being very conclusive, and just before he breathed his last he said he had been killed by Mrs. Grant, who had poisoned his coffee at breakfast; at the same time making a request that his body be opened and examined after his death. To add to this tragic state of affairs, an aged lady in the same house had died suddenly two days previous under similar circumstances. The date of McClusky’s death was May the 19th. The lady, whose name has not been ascertained, died June 15, and Dougherty and on the 17th ult. The facts of the case have not been published before, in order to give the officers of the law a better chance to bring the case into form for prosecution. A Coroner’s inquest was held over the remains of Dougherty, which resulted in the holding of both Mr. and Mrs. Grant to bail, and meantime the body of Dougherty was to be sent to New York for analysis. But when the circumstances attending the death of McClusky and that of the lady were remembered, there remained no doubt that all were depatched by the same hand; and the woman Grant and her husband were re-arrested, and they are now secured in the Richmond county jail, and will not be bailed on any considerations. The chemist who has the body of Dougherty yesterday reported to the authorities that poison had been discovered, and the other bodies will be immediately exhumed and undergo a similar analysis. A further examination of the prisoners will take place to-morrow afternoon, before Justice Vaughn, at Clifton, S. I. The prisoners are what would be called a rough looking pair; and when they were conveyed to the jail in the constable’s carriage, their appearance was so bad as to cause remark by every one who saw them. Margaret is particularly uncouth in appearance, and her features very irregular and repulsive. She is downcast since her last arrest, and begins to manifest deep anxiety. The tragic affair is the main topic of conversation throughout the breadth of the Island.

[“A Modern Borgia. – Wholesale Poisoning on Staten Island – An Old Lady and Two Men Believed to have been Poisoned to Death by a Woman.” (from New Work World, Jul. 12), Chicago Tribune (Il.), Jul. 15, 1867, p. 1]

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Deaths:
May 19, 1867 – Archibald McClusky
June 15, 1867 – “a lady”
Jun. 17, 1867 – John Dougherty

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http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2012/02/female-serial-killers-of-19th-century.html


For more cases of this category, see: Female Serial Killers of 19th Century America (as of January 20, 2014, the collection contains 61 cases)

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Magdalena Castell Pons, Serial Poisoner on Demand – Majorca, Spain, 1941


FULL TEXT: Accused of selling poison used for at least four murders, Magdalena Castell, aged 45, was arrested in Palma, Argentina [sic; error; should be Spain]. Twelve of her relatives who are said to have known of her “activities” were also arrested. Mrs. Castell is said to have sold a mixture of rat poison and flour to one woman who used it to kill her mother-in-law, while three others killed their husbands.

[“Modern Borgia Jailed," The Morning Call (Paterson, N. J.), Jan. 7, 1941, p. 26]

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EXCERPT: The poisoners of the La Soledad district. In the absence of divorce, try poison. This was what the protagonists of this tragic event thought, as they used poison to do away with the lovers of their husbands, their husbands themselves and even their mothers-in-law, in the early 20th century. These poisoners, who operated from the district of La Soledad, were punished, although it was difficult to prove their guilt and implication in several of the cases of murder by poisoning. The official supplier of the poison was called Magdalena Castell, and although she was condemned, she managed to elude the death sentence. This charlatan healer and fortune teller supplied her customers with a lethal mixture of barium, arsenic and flour.

[“The scene of the crime,” Palma Daily (Majorca, Spain), January 25, 2015]

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(Based on article in Spanish): Magdalena Castell Pons lived in the quiet working-class district of La Soledat in Palma, Majorca (Spain). She was a healer, fortune teller, herbalist and clandestine abortionist. Soon, there was a need to expand the business with a brew made with flour, barium and arsenic (the latter products were rat poison that was easily accessible at any store at the time). The main clients were women who wanted to become widows.

Magdalena Castell's intermediary was Antònia Font, who, from her tailor's shop, sent the clientele to the sorceress. One of the first to contact her was Joana Maria Veny Noguera, 40. Her husband had found out he had a lover. To appease her anger, she had tried to kill him by resorting to the services of another healer. Seeing that the product she had been given had no effect, the adulteress thought of the healer of Solitude. This time his "ready" gave the expected results. On December 24, 1939, the unfaithful husband died in the midst of severe vomiting.

Also hostile to her husband was Margalida Martorell Taberner, 32. He was unaware she lived a double life as a prostitute. She decided to kill him with Magdalena Castell's cocktail on January 15, 1940. The same strategy was followed by Antònia Suau Garau, a 28-year-old woman from Puigpunyent. In 1930 he had married an uncle who had come from America. She had incorrectly assumed he was rich, but was disappointed. She took a lover in Palma. She killed him with Castell’s potion on October 19, 1940.

Another customer was Nomia Maria Nicolau Sorell, 28, who had “mother-in-law issues.”  She lived with the woman, 76, and a son. Her husband had disappeared at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. It was soon learned that her mother-in-law was planning to marry a 25-year-old boy. In order to prevent that outsider from getting hold of the family inheritance, he decided to kill the old woman. On March 18, 1940, after a week of severe diarrhea, the woman died.

~ Suspicions Arise ~

In each case, physicians certified that the deaths were from a heart condition. Yet towards the end of 1940, police became suspicious. The suspicious deaths came to the attention of Eugenio Blanco, head of the Command of the Civil Guard of Palma. He set up an uncover investigation. Then a plan will be orchestrated to stop it. Dressed as a farmer, a police agent contacted the go-between, Antònia Font. He told her that he wanted to kill his wife in a foolproof way. She accompanied him to Magdalena Castell's address, at number 4, Carrer Antoni Rosselló Nadal. He paid her 2,000 pesetas for the lethal cocktail, and when leaving the house, a group of Benemérita's agents stormed the apartment, where they found the two women distributing their money.

Magdalena Castell confessed to her criminal activities and named her homicidal clients. All were arrested. Judgment in the case of the "Poisoners of Solidat" was carried out in April 1943. As author of four crimes for murder, Magdalena Castell was sentenced to death. The penalty, however, was appealed to the Supreme Court, which commuted him to a 30-year prison sentence. Her partner, Antònia Font, fell fourteen years, eight months and one day in minor confinement. To Joana Maria Veny, Margalida Martorell and Antònia Suau, thirty years of minor imprisonment. And to Maria Nicolau, 25 years of major imprisonment.

~ Forgotten by History ~

Interestingly, in its day, the case of the "Poisoners of Solitude" had little media impact. This has been attested by the historian Jeroni F. Fullana Martorell, author of the book, Crímenes y criminales en la isla de (Mallorca 1884-1951), by the publisher Lleonard Muntaner. Fullana kept track of the press at the time and found almost nothing. "In the 1940's," he says, "the censorship was very strong. The newspapers barely covered the judgment. Yes, they did publish the sentence. This has one explanation: Franco's regime considered all matters of public order secret. The regime was probably interested in selling an idyllic image of citizen coexistence. It was only in the 1950's that the media began to give more varied and more informed news. "

[Based on: Antoni Janer Torrens, “When women killed men; At the end of 1939, a group of women in Palma resorted to the services of a Soledad healer to poison their husbands,” (“Quan les dones mataven els homes; A final de 1939, un grup de dones de Palma va recórrer als serveis d’una curandera de la Soledat per enverinar els seus marits.”)  Arabalears, Jun. 8, 2019]

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Magdalena Castell Pons, number 4, Carrer Antoni Rosselló Nadal.
Antònia Font, accomplice, go-between.
Dec. 24, 1939 Joana Maria Veny Noguera, (40), murdered husband.
Jan. 15, 1940 – Margalida Martorell Taberner, (32), murdered husband.
Oct. 19, 1940 – Antònia Suau Garau, (28), from Puigpunyent.
Mar. 18, 1940 – Nomia Maria Nicolau Sorell, (28), murdered mother-in-law (76).
April 1943 – convictions. Magdalena Castell sentenced to death, commuted to 30 years; Antònia Font, 14 yrs., 8 mos;

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Kusuma Nain, Indian Bandit Queen - 2004


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 3): New Delhi – An outlaw gang’s leaders killed 13 villagers and burned a woman and her child to death to avenge the killing of three gang members, the United News of India reported Sunday.

The news agency quoted police as saying that gang chieftan Lala Ram-Shriram and his paramour, Kusuma Nain, lined up 13 villagers and shot them to death Saturday night in Asta village near Kanpur, in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

They then set fire to several houses, and a mother and child died in the flames, the agency said.

It said the slayings were to avenge the killings of three comrades by a rival gang whose members lived in the village. A witness reported that the bandits entered the village shouting “Teach them a lesson,” and then opened fire.

[“Indian villagers murdered,” syndicated (AP), The Citizen (Ottawa, Canada), May 28, 1984, p. 6]

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EXCERPT (Article 2 of 3): Ram Asre Tiwai alias Phakkar Baba, along with his mistress Kusuma Nain and seven more allies surrendered on June 8 [2004]. Ram Asre was a dacoit operating in the Chambal Valley and was responsible for several cases of murder, robbery and abduction in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. According to O.P. Singh, DSP Sikandra, the featuring of Ram Asre’s crimes on “India TV’s Most Wanted’’ played a vital role in the criminal’s surrender.

[Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar and Bindu Shajan Perappadan, “Back on the air,” The Hindu (Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India), Jun. 25, 2004]

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EXCERPT (Article 3 of 3): Hence, the dreaded Kusuma Nain, another contemporary female bandit who faced eighty-four murder charges, anointed herself “dasyu sundari” (the beautiful bandit queen), jogging memories of another who had borne the appellation two decades earlier.

[Bishnupriya Ghosh, Global Icons: Apertures to the Popular, 2011, Duke University Press, p. 347]

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Discredited Female Serial Killer Legends & False Reports


1364 – Countess “Agnes” d’Orlamunde, “White Lady”; Agnes, Queen of Hungary – Neuhaus Castle, Bohemia

“the Countess Dorlamunde, responsible for the death of her father, mother, brother, husband, three children and several friends” [“Women Poisoners Perverse, Liars, Says Pathologist,” Atlanta Constitution (Ga.), Jan. 20, 1928, p. 2]

[The Graphic (London, England), February 17, 1883; Issue 690 and early 20th century online for research.]

Early 1500s – Gila Giraldo, AKA “La Serrana de la Vera” – Plasencia, Spain

1519 – Lucrezia Borgia (18 April 1480 – 24 June 1519) – Italy

“Lucretia Borgia did not poison anyone and probably did not have an incestuous affair with Pope Alexander VI, her father, art experts and historians said yesterday [Feb. 9, 2010].” [Bruce Johnston, “Lucretia Borgia ‘not incestuous sex-mad poisoner,”The Daily Mail (London, England), Feb. 10, 2012]

1535 – Anna Neumann von Wasserleonberg, “The Female Bluebeard of Noetsch” (d 1623) – Carinthia, Austria

“In the years between her birth on November 23, 1535, and her death on December 18, 1623, Anna, was married six times, bat she was never divorced. She disposed of her first five husbands more simply by rubbing them affectionately with an ointment that contained a mysterious and deadly poison.” [William C. Mccloy. “The Wasserleonerg Ghost.  – Woman Bluebeard Of Sixteenth Century. - History Of A Honeymoon Castle,” The Auckland Star (Australia), Jul. 10, 1937, p. 9]

1591 – Katheryn of Berain – Llanefydd, Denbighshire, Wales – died Aug. 27, 1591 – Wales; legend

[Katharine Olson, “Did 16th century wealthy Welsh heiress poison three of her four husbands?” Western Mail (Wales), Mar. 26, 2011]

1649 – Lucida Mansi – Lucca, Italy

“Lucida Mansi (Lucca, c. 1606 – Lucca, c. February 12, 1649) was an Italian noblewoman, and the subject of a legend in the province of Lucca, Italy. She is of uncertain origins. Lucida was married very young to Vincenzo Diversi, who was killed in the early years of their marriage. Made a widow early, she was remarried to the old and very wealthy Gaspare di Nicolao Mansi. The wealthy Mansi family was well-known earlier than the 16th century in much of Europe thanks to their trade in silk. Their marriage was the subject of much gossip, due to their significant age difference, and how much more attractive Lucida was than her husband. Lucida was very vain, and is rumored to have dedicated an entire room in the Villa Mansi to mirrors in order to admire her own appearance. Lucida died of the plague February 12, 1649, and was laid to rest in the chiesa dei Cappuccini a Lucca, in her family's crypt. Lucida Mansi, the daughter of Lucchese nobles, was said to be very beautiful and very vain. She was so cruel and concerned with the pleasures of the flesh that she killed her husband in order to be free to enjoy her many lovers. The legend states that she killed her lovers after sleeping with them by throwing them down a ditch covered in sharp blades.” [Wikipedia]

1686 – Mary MacMahon (Máire Rua MacMahon, Red Mary) – Lemenaugh, County Clare, Ireland

“It is said that if a servant were foolish enough to displease her, they would be hung out of one of the castle windows, the men by their necks and the women by their hair. If the maids did not learn to bend to her will, she would punish them by cutting off their breasts.”

“Her that murdered two husbands and dide at last of the curse of a poor widow woman she wronged.” [archaic spelling and grammar retained]

1763 – Marie-Josephte Corriveau Saint-Vallier – Quebec, Canada

“Marie-Josephte Corriveau (1733 at Saint-Vallier, Quebec – April 18, 1763 at Quebec City), better known as “la Corriveau”, is one of the most popular figures in Québécois folklore. She lived in New France, and was sentenced to death by a British court martial for the murder of her second husband, was hanged for it and her body hanged in chains. Her story has become legendary in Quebec, and she is the subject of numerous books and plays.” [Wikipedia]

[Accounts of the purported series of husband-killings: James MacPherson Le Moine, “Marie-Josephte Corriveau, A Canadian Lafarge, Maples Leaves, 1863, p. 68-74.]

The Corriveau legend has her murdering her first husband by pouring lead in his ear. “Ostander’s case, of an English woman who murdered six husbands by pouring molten lead into the ear. She was detected in the seventh attempt.” [Rudolph August Witthaus, Medical jurisprudence, forensic medicine and toxicology, Volume 3, 1896, p. 125; based on Ostander’s 1813 book] [Ostander [Friedrich Benjamin Osiander], Über den Selbstmord, seine Ursachen, Arten, medicinische gerichtliche Untersuchung und die Mittel gegen denselben. Hannover 1813, p. 395]

Some accounts describe her as English but unnamed in medical reference books and in English newspapers; story has her murdering 6 husbands, and attempting to kill another, by means of pouring molten lead into the ear. [English Black Widow – 6 hubs, 7th surv (“Ostander’s case” ), 1792]

1807 – Rebecca “Becky” Cotton – Edgefield, South Carolina, USA

The “Devil in Petticoats”

“In his later work, a sermon, the Rev. Weems tells the story of Rebecca Cotton, who, in the early 1800s, murdered three of the four men she married. Her schemed and brutal murders only ended when her brother stoned her at the county courthouse in 1807.” [Catherine Thomas, “The Edgefield Legend of Rebecca Cotton,” Aiken Standard (S. C.), Sep. 18, 1990, p. 7]

1820 – Lavinia Fisher (1793-1820) – Charleston, South Carolina, USA

“The legend of Lavinia Fisher has been told and retold since her execution in Charleston, South Carolina in 1820 and with each telling it has grown more extravagant and further from the truth. Today tourist pamphlets and web sites will earnestly tell you that Lavinia was America’s first female serial killer when, in fact, there is no hard evidence that she ever killed anyone.” [Robert Wilhelm, “The Legend of Lavinia Fisher,” Murder by Gaslight, Oct. 1, 2010]

Book: Bruce Orr, Six Miles to Charleston: The True Story of John and Lavinia Fisher, 2010

1831 – Rosa (Annie) Palmer – Rose Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica (reportedly died, 1831)

“The basis for most of the White Witch legend seems to come from H.G. de Lisser’s 1928 novel “The White Witch of Rose Hall”. This was a popular novel telling the gripping story of an Annie Palmer that lived a very different life to that indicated by the records available from the time. [The facts about Rose Hall,” Jamaica Travel and Culture] 

1834 – Delphine Marie LaLaurie – New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

“The legends have grown about this house and its namesake, twisting the real events into something almost unrecognizable. The phony body count attributed to Delphine seems to increase with each passing year. But the truth shows us that ‘Mad’ Madame LaLaurie was definitely not a saint, even if she wasn’t a murderer (and it is unclear if she was). She was an accomplice and almost certainly a participant in the slow, systematic torture of other human beings, and demonstrated zero remorse for her misdeeds.” [James Caskey, “The Haunted LaLaurie House in New Orleans,” James Caskey, Savannah Author, 13 Oct, 2014]

1867 – Sarah Jane Newman “Sally Skull” – Texas, USA

“Sally Skull may have killed two of five husbands. This is hedged with the usual caveat — she was never charged or convicted. They just disappeared.” [Murphy Givens, “Did husband No. 5 kill Sally Skull?” Corpus Christi Caller Times (Tx.), Jun 29, 2011]

1873 – Mrs. York – Moeaqua, Illinois, USA

The statement of Mr. Drake certainly shows that Mrs. York could not poisoned three of the persons she is said to have said to admitted killing, and hence it is very probable that the confession, if made, was uttered while suffering from mental aberration.” [“Discredited – What Mrs. E. R. Drake Knows of the Alleged Poisoning of Six Persons Near Monmequa – Mrs. York’s Death-Bed Confession Discredited.” The Chicago Daily Tribune (Il.), Jun. 17, 1873, p. 2]

1889 – “Cattle Queen Kate” Maxwell – Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA

“Ellen Liddy Watson (July 2, 1860 – July 20, 1889) was a pioneer of Wyoming who became erroneously known as Cattle Kate, a post-claimed outlaw of the Old West. The “outlaw” characterization is a dubious one, as she was not violent and was never charged with any crime during her life. Accused of cattle rustling, she was ultimately lynched by agents of powerful cattle ranchers as an example to what happens to those who opposed them and whose interests she had threatened. Her life has become the subject of an Old West legend.” [Wikipedia]

“Her husband died mysteriously. It was whispered that she poisoned him … she played every card game well and to fleece the innocent was only pastime for her and her husband. two men who mysteriously disappeared were traced to this deadfall, where they were, in all probability, murdered for their money.” [‘Cattle Queen Kate’ Maxwell,” Salina County Journal (Ks.), Aug. 1, 1889, p. 6]

1896 – Mrs. C. M. Powell (“Powers”) – Leonardsburg, Ohio, USA

[“Mrs. Powell Denies Stories. - She Says She Did Not Poison the Five Persons as Charged.” Newark Daily Advocate (Oh.), Feb. 1, 1896, p. 1]
[“Terrible Charges. - Several Murders Laid at the Door of a Springfield Woman,” Daily gazette, (Xenia, Oh.), Feb. 13 1896, p. 2]

1934 – Bonnie Parker – Sailes, Bienville Parish, Louisiana, USA (place of death)

Recent research holds that she did not personally murder anyone

►1961 – Georgia Rutledge Hanson – Watsonville, Ca., USA

Falsely confessed to strangulation murders.

2001 – Gisela Kandorfer  – Frankfurt, Germany

(hoax article) “A black widow killer slaughtered six husbands – then chopped up the bodies and ate them, shocked cops say.” [Cliff Linedecker, “Black widow bride murdered six husbands,” Weekly World News, Jan. 2, 2001, p. 4]

2012 – “Indonesian Cannibal” – Indonesia

An article, illustrated with several gruesome photos, was apparently a hoax. [“Female Cannibal In Indonesia,” Aaj News (India), Jan 27, 2012] 

►2013 – Miranda Barbour– Philadelphia, Pa., USA

Troy LaFerrara was a Port Trevorton, Pennsylvania man murdered on November 11, 2013. Miranda Barbour and her husband, Elytte Barbour, were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in September 2014. The murder is notable because of the claim by one of the killers, Miranda Barbour, that she had murdered at least 22 other people, triggering worldwide news coverage of the case.