Thursday, September 22, 2011

Maria Kardos, Hungarian Serial Killer - 1929

Note: Name variants: "Mara Kardos-Szendi," "Maria Kardos," "Marie Aszendi," Marie Szendi."


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 6): Budapest, Jan. 18. – Following the arrest of 60 widows from Tiszahurt, Nagyrev, and Skolnok on charges of having poisoned their husbands, mainly with the object of obtaining possession of their land, Marie Aszendi [sic] has been charged with having murdered her son, because he made her look too old.

Aszendi is a popular hostess at tea parties to the well to do peasantry of Skolnock. It is alleged that her husband died of poisoning after he had thrashed her for infidelity and that her second died in a similar manner after he had threatened to divorce her.

There was a dramatic scene when the judge interrupted Aszendi’s evidence, and said angrily, “Stop lying and tell the truth. Did you know that the midwife Susan Fazekas was poisoning your son?

Aszendi who was terrified, wavered and confessed that she did know, “We cooked a nice supper,” she said, “and put poison in it. I paid Fazekas ₤2. My son died. It took three doses of poison to kill my husband. The poison was put in his food.”

The judge asked Aszendi how much she paid for the poisoning of her husband, and she replied, “Nothing, I refused to pay.”

[“Woman Poisons Son. - Made Her Look Too Old. - Also Kills Two Husbands.” The Argus (Melbourne, Australia), Jan. 20, 1930, p. 8]

[Note: Name sometimes transliterated as “Szendi”]

FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 6): Szolonok, Hungary, Jan. 1. – The trial of forty alleged poisoners of the little Hungarian hamlets of Mahyrev [sic; Nagyrev] and Tizakurt reached its highest point of dramatic interest to day when Maria Kardos was accused of the murder of her own son and husband and the attempted murder of the husband of her friend, Juliana Foldvari, and Juliana Foldvari was charged with poisoning her husband, lover and mother.

These two women known in their youth as the belles of the district, are still among its wealthiest inhabitants. In contrast with the half dozen peasant women already tried they exhibited in their more intelligent features, more correct accents and more fashionable garb a degree of refinement and culture which threw into stronger relief the medieval crudity of the crimes of which they are accused. That the accusations are well-founded, however, was shown by the admission of Mme. Kardos under the strain of to-day’s cross-examination of her responsibility for poisoning her husband and son.


Mme. Kardos appeared in court in black with silk stockings and patent leather shoes. She was depicted by police accounts as a vital, passionate figure who combined a certain longing for city refinements with rural coarseness in the indulgence of unbridled desires.

After marrying and divorcing two husbands Mme. Kardos found herself, at age of 40 with a 22-year-old son. As his bad health made him a burden whose existence interfered with the mother’s pleasures, she enlisted for £100 the services of “Aunt Suzi” the midwife who is alleged to have been the inspiration for most of the sixty poisonings supposed to have occurred.

After a first dose of poison the son grew ill. Mme. Kardos had his bed moved outside one fine Autumn day. Then, in her own words, “I gave him more poison in his medicine. Suddenly I remembered how splendidly my boy used to sing in church so I said “Sing my boy! Sing me my favorite song!” He sang it with his lovely, clear voice, then suddenly he cried out, gripped his stomach, gasped and he was dead.

Mme. Kardos then remarried, but on being threatened with divorce by her husband she obtained another dose of arsenic from the midwife, who charged her nothing this time, as she herself was eager for revenge against the husband, who had once been her own lover, and got rid of him by more summary means. This murder she also admitted in court today.


Juliana Foldvari, who is 49 years old, four years younger than Mme. Kardos, flatly denied today the three charges against her. The first is that she poisoned her old mother, from whom she had had large property expectations, but with whom she lived in none too friendly relations, by inducing her to eat cookies filled with arsenic. The old woman died in great agony.

After providing an imposing funeral the daughter erected a gravestone with the epitaph “Here lies she whom I most loved.”

Two years later Mme. Foldvari’s first husband died suddenly. On exhumation traces of arsenic were found in his body. Another two years and another victim followed, this time Ladislaus Toth, with whom she had lived as common-law wife.

After partaking of soup which Mme. Foldvari had sent him when he was at work in the fields, Toth died in great agony. His exhumation also revealed the presence of arsenic.

In to-day’s hearing Mme. Foldvari denied all previous admissions. When reminded by the prosecutor that a Mrs. Krek, a neighbor, had heard Mme. Foldvari’s mother cry just before her death. “The devil fly away with these cookies my daughter made me. They made me ill,” Mme. Foldvari’s reply was.

“She lies, she lies out of the depths of her dirty soul. She hates me because once, when she wanted to buy a house from me I would not give her back her deposit money.”

[“Woman Admits Poisoning Son And Husband - Hungarian Says Her Mate’s Former Sweetheart Gave Arsenic Free. - Another Accused. – She Denies Charges of Slaying Mother, Husband And Lover with Food.” The Daily Gleaner (Kingston, Jamaica), Jan. 28, 1930, p. 8]

FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 6): Budapest, February 10. – The appalling spectacle of a woman, recently condemned to death, giving evidence against her former friend, in order that she should not go to the gallows alone, was a feature of the Szolnok case, when the trial of 31 women and three men prisoners was resumed.

The evidence was given against Maria Varga, aged 41, who was accused of having murdered her husband, Stefan, who was blinded in the war, her lover, Michael Ambrus, and her lover’s grandfather. The woman was led in wearing a velvet mantle and other finery.

For a time, the evidence was so weak, that an acquittal seemed certain. Her mother gave evidence that Stefan often spoke of suicide, as a release from blindness. Moreover, it was shown that Maria Varga did not, in fact, inherit the property when Ambrus’s grandfather died, and although Varga admitted she administered the fatal dose, she said she did not know it was poisonous. She explained that her husband was acquainted with Fazekas, a midwife, who committed suicide when the police came to arrest her. Maria added she understood it was a soothing draught Fazekas had given her husband.

However, the last witness for the prosecution, Frau Kardos, entirely changed the aspect of the case.

This once beautiful woman, who was condemned to death a few days ago for having murdered her husband and only son, came to the Court in the custody of gendarmes. She was also in a her finery, After taking the oath, she turned upon the cringing figure in the dock, and cried, “You know your statements about Suzanne Fazekas. All we villagers know that if Aunt Suzanne entered the house, it signified unavoidable death. Everybody knew Suzanne’s profession. She led astray all the women in the village. Whenever she darkened the door of a village home, some unwanted man or woman soon died.” I heard  you promise the midwife 500 weights of wheat if she killed your husband.”

Frau Kardos concluded by describing Stefan’s death agony in detail, and while the crowded Court shuddered with horror, she added. “I killed my own husband and son, so I know how they die. I am condemned, and I do not want the other murderess to escape.

Varga angrily denied the charges, but Kardos’s damning evidence was sufficient, for Varga was found guilty of having murdered her husband.

Kardos, however, missed her final vengeance, as Varga was sentenced to imprisonment for life. Despite the public prosecutor’s demanding the death sentence, the Court decided it had not been proved she murdered Ambrus, although the woman admitted the could not explain how such an enormous quantity of arsenic got into her lover’s body. There was also lack of evidence of how the grandfather died.

The body of another peasant Peter Hegedues, was exhumed to-day. He died in 1914, and it is believed he was poisoned with cucumber salad containing rat poison.

[“Apalling Case. - Hungarian Poisoning Charges. - Condemned Woman Called as Witness.” The Townsville Daily Bulletin (N. Queensland, Australia), Feb. 1, 1930, p. 7; “Apalling” as in original.]


FULL TEXT (Article 4 of 6): Szolnok, Hungary, Jan. 13. – Marie Kardos, the first woman to be hanged in Hungary in many years, went to the gallows today for the murder of her husband and her 22-year-old son last year.

Seventy persons watched the execution, which took place early today. The woman had lost all the composure which had remained with her during the period of her imprisonment, and she was on the verge of collapse when she was led from her cell to the scaffold.

~ One of 40 Prisoners. ~

Frau Kardos was one of forty women who were tried last spring and summer after their husbands and other relatives died mysteriously of poison. Most of the crimes were traced to an old woman called “Aunt Susie,” who, it was established, incited most of the murders and in most of the cases administered the poison for a fee. She was said to have made a small fortune this way. After she had been convicted of murder she took her own life in prison.

Frau Kardos was one of three women sentenced to death. The woman who was hanged today spent last night in prayer, but was thrown into hysterics when the hangman came Into her cell to estimate her weight before they fashioned the noose. As she mounted the scaffold, the executioner’s assistants bound her arms and legs and kicked the stool from under her.

“God help me,” she cried. Eight minutes later she was dead.

[“Woman is put to Death In Hungary - Marie Kardos Hanged For Murder Of Husband And Son With Poison.” Syndicated (AP), Jan. 14, 1931, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (article 5 of 6): There were dramatic scenes at the public execution of Kardos, who was the centre figure in the mass poisoning, of husbands. The prison was besieged by an eager mob, the scenes recalling the storming of a fortress.

From dawn ladders were rested, on the prison walls, and men and women fought for positions. Doors, windows and roofs of the surrounding houses were black with onlookers.

The woman spent the that night making her will, leaving the tiny farm, the fruit of her crime, to a distant relative.

When awakened at 6 o'clock, Stephen Tordor [sic; Sandor], the young lover for whom she killed her husband, was allowed to enter the cell, The warders had to carry her to the scaffold. She was crying out “Have pity on me. Let me see my daughter.”

When the platform fell, Tordor, who remained till the end, ran screaming through the courtyard into the street.

Tordor later made a remarkable confession [of what Marie Kardos had told him] : “I killed my son, Sandor.”

“After he had drunk the poison, I remembered what a wonderful voice he had and how he used to dominate the singing in the church. While I waited for the poison  to take effect, I thought how nice it would be to hear him sing once before his death.”

“I asked him to sing my favourite love-song, and he sang it for me, lying there in a wonderful way, with all his power and feeling. The young heart suddenly broke off, and he put both hands to his side and uttered a despairing cry.”

“He sighed once or twice, and then it was over. I laid him on the bed and put on my mourning dress before going out.”

[“Prisoner Hanged – Boy's Death Song - Amazing Confession Vienna,” the Maitland Daily Mercury (Australia), Jan. 14, 1931, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 6 of 6): One of the poisoners from the Theisswinkel, Mrs. Maria Kardos-Szendi, will be executed in Szolnok today, Tuesday, as is the case from Budapest. The hangman has already arrived in Szolnok. It is the first execution of a woman in Hungary in eighty years. The request for clemency was rejected by the imperial administrator. Lawyer Dr. Kovacs, the defender of Maria Kardos-Szendi, will still try to obtain a pardon; but the judicial authorities do not believe that the defense counsel's action will be successful. Maria Szendi, the poisoner from Nagyrew in Theisswinkel, was one of the richest farmers in the area. Her second husband, Michael Kardos, was also wealthy. Together the two had 20 to 25 yoke fields. At a young age, Maria was a celebrated beauty and much wooed.

Her first husband was called Sandor Kovacs. From this marriage a son named Sandor was born. He was 23 years old when his mother poisoned him. She held the year of mourning for the son and only then married Michael Kardos. However, the two did not harmonize with each other. The woman needed too much for herself, she drove an extravagance that her husband did not like. So, one day she went to visit the midwife Suse Olah and to get her tried and tested help, namely the arsenic poison. Soon afterwards Michael Kardos was dead. The Szendi took a 26-year-old boy, a Transylvanian, into her abandoned house.

The unequal couple lived in conflict, the Transylvanian meant a new love for Maria Szendi. She adopted the boy and so he became Stephan Szendi, as he is still called now. One day she got tired of him; Stephan now stood in her way again. She set the plan; to marry him off. Soon she had found a fetching girl for him, and the Assemblyman Erödi-Harrach, who of course had no idea of ​​the Szendi's deeds, acted as best man. Stephan Szendi is still in the Szendi house in Nagyrew and manages their property; presumably he will inherit it too.

[“Maria Kardos-Szendi is executed. One of the poisoners from the Tiszagug." (“Maria Kardos-Szendi wird hingerichtet. Eine der Giftmörderinen aus dem Theißwinkel.”), Kleine Volks-Zeitung (Vienna, Austria), Jan. 13, 1931, p. 5]


3 Victims:
Sandor Kovacs, husband #1.
Michael Kardos, husband #2; murdered.
Sandor Kardos (jr.) (23), son; murdered.
Foldvari (husband of friend of Juliana Foldvari)








For more than two dozen similar cases, dating from 1658 to 2011, see the summary list with links see: The Husband-Killing Syndicates


More cases: Female Serial Killers Executed


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