Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Women’s Clubs Devoted to Murdering Husbands

“Women’s Clubs Devoted to Murdering Husbands,” by Robert St. Estephe, July 1, 2015


It is amazing what college professors manage to “forget” to tell their customers about. In a modest effort to offer a corrective, we offer here is a bit of “gender studies” reality that does not fit well with the standard indoctrination fare – promoting fundamentalist dogmas of “social constructionism” and “critical theory” over facts – that makes up the typical distorted history lesson that passes for education these days. Facts and theories often do not mix well.

Here are some overlooked facts about the relations between the sexes in Eastern Europe (Bohemia, Croatia, Romania, Russia, Serbia) – from the past which are worth knowing about – and, we suggest, also worth thinking about. Compare them to the so-called  theory you’ve been sold (“theories” which actually are more wish-lists, scapegoat myths, and magic words than anything resembling a legitimate theory of any kind).

Sometimes old news ends up becoming new news.

~ A Bohemian Death Soirée ~

A tantalizing snippet of crime news from far away turned up in a few American newspapers back in the early Spring of 1871. The story was only two sentences in length describes the outcome of a trial in a region (proper Czech spelling: Podbrdský) close to Prague.

“Four married woman of Podbizka, in Bohemia, were convicted of having poisoned their husbands at a party which one of them had given for that purpose. They were sentenced to penal servitude for life.” [1]

So far, no other report of these crimes have been located in English language sources. Czech sources are inaccessible to this writer.

Our apologies for offering up such an intriguing tease with no prospect for filling out the picture any time soon. But this little item prompts a discussion of a little known phenomenon for which, in other instances, there is a bit of detailed information available: Eastern European “clubs” formed by wives for the express purpose of killing off husbands. There are dozens of historical instances of professional poisoners located  in eastern Europe, who specialized in assisting wives in murdering husbands [2]. Most, of course, used poison, but some used other methods. Here we will look at only five of these conspiracies, those involving particularly organized activities: killing “clubs,” killing “parties” and a “marry for the purpose of killing scheme” that was organized for the benefit of unmarried young women who wished to gain quick inheritances.

~ The Croatian Matchmaker from Hell ~

In eastern Croatia in the town of Aingula, Syrmia district, in October1887 newspapers reported what was perhaps the most cynical scheme conceived by one of these professional “widow-makers.”

“Young married farmers have been dying off with dreadful suddenness in villages of Syrmia in Eastern Croatia. These young farmers were all brand new husbands, and at last their deaths, all coming so soon after their marriage, excited suspicion, and the matter was investigated. It was found that an old woman had conceived the idea of getting pretty young girls to marry farmers and then poison them and divide the spoils. The old woman is now in gaol, and so far seven young widows to whom she had furnished poison with which to kill their husbands. These arrests have all been made in a single village, and a lot of other arrests are anticipated.” [3]

~ An Exclusive Romanian Wives “Club” ~

In 1903 Romania (then part of the Austo-Hungarian Empire) in the town of Veresmacht near Arad, a coroner formed what English language newspapers called a “club.”

“A sensation has been caused by the arrest of five women on the charge of poisoning their husbands. It is charged by the authorities that the women were members of a club which was formed among the married women of Veresmacht [or, Beresmait], near Arad, Hungary [currently in Romania]. None but women who were dissatisfied with their husbands could become members of this organization. Whenever a woman was heard to say that she wished she was never married, or that she would like to have her husband out of the way, she was immediately visited by one of the agents the club. Once in the toils of the club the women had no alternative but to go on with the plot of murder. The members of the club were supplied with poison, which, it is charged, was obtained from the coroner of the district, who then put it on the record that the men had died of heart disease. The coroner, whose name is Hansuch, is under arrest, accused of being accessory to the murders that are charged against the women.” [4]

It would seem that after assisting the women by selling them poison the opportunistic coroner would – after the husband was successfully been rendered a corpse – blackmail the self-made widow. This must have been quite a disappointment since in the majority of cases of this sort in eastern Europe the primary motive was to possession of the assets of the deceased.

~ The Serbian “Saint Lucretia Club” ~

While the husband-killing club in Veresmacht was, it goes without saying, a secret sort of thing, in one town in Serbia, Nagy Kikinda it is called, a group of women were so bold as to form a public club and to register it as an official charity (if the news clipping is accurate in this detail). Here is the extraordinary story of the “kill your husband club” (as one American newspaper called it) that burst into the headlines internationally in 1926:

“Everybody in the little Jugoslavian town of Nagy Kikinda thought the women’s club of Saint Lucretia was a very respectable society and above suspicion, until the number of deaths among the male population showed a striking increase which nobody could explain. Rumors arose. It was found that many of the men who died had been married to or were friends of women who were members of the Saint Lucretia club, that their deaths had been more or less unexpected and that there was a striking resemblance of the circumstances under which they took place.

“Every one of the dead men had been wealthy and respected in the little community. Some of the widows spent more money than they had ever done before, purchased costly clothes, automobiles, and led the lives of grandes dames. When things had developed so far, somebody remembered that Saint Lucretia had a namesake who was one of the worst poisoners in history, namely Lucretia Borgia, the daughter of Pope Alexander VI [note: the name “Lucretia Borgia” had been synonymous with “female serial killer” until research in the mid-20th century showed that her homicidal reputation was based on legend, not fact] This stirred the suspicion that the women’s club was not named after the saint, but after Lucretia Borgia, and that it really was a league of poisoners.

“At first there was no absolute proof of these dreadful suspicions, but the police considered them sufficiently grave to arrest several of the members of the club, among them the ringleader, who disappeared when she smelled danger, but was so imprudent as to return to Nagy Kikinda because she believed her social position and that of her friends would be sufficient protection. Her husband was among the persons who died recently from a sudden illness.

“The police had meanwhile found out that one of the women made frequent excursions abroad and supplied the necessary poison, which she obtained from chemists under some pretext or other. Naturally, the little town is in seething excitement and the scandal is great.

“The unprecedented criminal affair had a tragic-comical result. The men of Nagy Kikinda have been caught by a general panic. None of them had ever thought of  the faint possibility of an organization for the purpose of their removal by poison. Certainly not in their social circles. Who could still trust his wife or fiancée in such a depraved milieu? Thus it happened that numerous men left their families because they were not certain whether their wives were secret members of the Lucretia club. Engagements were dissolved, and new arrests are hourly expected. It will take women in Nagy Kikinda a long time to win back the confidence of the male part of the population.” [5]

Only today (July 1, 2015) has a source been uploaded in a newspaper archive that states that name of the club’s founder – Maria Vukitch – and gives the details of the scheme’s origin and its judicial denouement. Maria Vukitch murdered two husbands and aided seven other women in becoming poison widows. Nine men in total were killed by the blessed Society of Saint Lucretia. Two of there were spouses of Maria Vukitch. She and her acolytes are, it is reported, hanged for their crimes.

It was following the murder of her first husband, Dusan, that she began to perform services for her young lady friends. Two became her beneficiaries – through willed widowhood – in short order. The poison was a mixture of arsenic and opium. Maria started a worship group in her home, where young women visitors, were seen entering, Bible in hand, and remained for hours on end. They made it known their patron saint was Lucretia. Their piety became so famous in the town that others clamored to be allowed into Maria’s inner sanctum, her “day room.” But these woman were rejected, adjudged as insufficiently pious for her exclusive club.

Finally the body count of healthy men dropping like flies grew so large that masculine members of the community demanded an investigation. It did not take long for the gendarmes to find the evidence of murder: a mix of arsenic and opium in each and every corpse.

~ Sophie, the Russian Party Monster ~

For our final story, dating from 1927 – the year of the hangings of the Kikinda women –   we shall return to the “party” theme. But we’re talking husband-killing party on a grand scale here. It took place in a tiny village to be sure, yet the effect was grand nevertheless. According to the few and scanty reports available at present, every single husband was ‘whacked” in the course of a single festival.

“The Russian authorities have been surprised to discover the village of Navoia is inhabited only by widows. After investigations they discovered that all the husbands in the village, numbering 58, had been murdered. The women confessed to poisoning them when they were intoxicated during a village festival, after the War, when the men returned and disturbed their wives’ untroubled lives.

The ring-leader, Sophie Safarine, stated that she committed thirty murders. She says she developed androphobia owing to the brutality of her first husband whom she killed in addition to the second and third husbands.” [6]

The phrase “party till you drop” takes on an entirely new meaning when there is a proactive “androphobe” around on a crusade to rid the world of representatives of the condemned sex, personal sacrifices in military service notwithstanding.

Among the dozens of other cases of “husband-killing syndicates” – mostly in Eastern Europe, but some in Italy, Sicily and France – there are stories as remarkable as these – with large conspiracies that operated sometimes over a period of decades. These party-killers and killing clubs are but a quaint subcategory of a widespread phenomenon that has been with us many centuries. Gangs that lure men into marriage only to be killed off by their wives for their assets – and life insurance pay-outs – are still operating, the most recent of which to be discovered was in Medellin, Colombia in 2011.

Husband-Killing Syndicates



[1] “Podbizka,” Bohemia – [Untitled, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (N.Y.), Mar. 11, 1871, p. 3; Same text:  Pittsburg Post-Gazette, Mar. 4, 1871, p. 1]
[2] See: “Husband Killing Syndicates” on blog “The Unknown History of Misandry”
[3] Aingula, Croatia – [“Poisoning Manias.” The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser (NSW, Australia), Dec. 27, 1887, p. 3]; quotation from [From column “Town Talk.” The Record (Melbourne, Australia), Dec. 24, 1887, p. 5]; [“Our Cable Dispatches – Remarkable Murders in Southern Europe,” The Oldensburg Journal (N.Y.), Oct. 31, 1887, p. 1]
[4] quotation from [“Women Formed Club To Murder Husbands – A Strange Conspiracy Is Unearthed at Arad, in Hungary.” The Pittsburgh Press (Pa.), Nov. 29, 1903, p. 1]; [“Coroner Advises Poisoning Of Men - Woman Administers Potion Because the Official Was Her Lover.” The San Francisco Call (Ca.), Jan. 3, 1904, p. 17]
[5] Some reports use the obsolete term “Velika Kikinda”]; source for name of founder: [“Arsenic Poisoners - Past and Present.” The Wellington Times (Australia), May 8, 1930, p. 5]; [“Club Of Women Poisoners Is Unearthed In Belgrade,” syndicated (AP), The Galveston Daily News (Tx.), Oct. 20, 1926, p. 1]; long quotation from: [“Woman’s Murder Society Forces Husbands From Town in Terror – Police in Jugoslavian Village Hold Modern Borgias on Charge of poisoning Rich Mates; News Causes Men to Break Engagements and Leave Families,” New York Herald-Tribune (N. Y.), Oct. 17, 1926, part III, p. 2]; [“A Poison Your Husband Club.” Springfield Republican (Mo.), Dec, 15, 1926, Editorial Page (p. 8)]
[6] Regarding the identification of the place: there are over 50 different locations with the name Navoija in Russia. An Italian book on serial killers, published in 2011, identifies the village as Novaja Laloga. [“Husbands Slain - Russian Women Confess - Fifty-eight Murders,” The News (Adelaide, Australia), Sep. 29, 1927, p. 7]; quotation from: [“Women With A Grievance. - 58 Husbands Killed.” The Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser, Oct. 15, 1927, p. 6]



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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