Sunday, February 8, 2015

Raya & Sekina Aly Hammam, Egyptian Serial Killing Sisters - 1920

NOTE: There are a variety of transliterations of the names to be found in English language accounts (“Rayya”; “Sakina”; “Ali Hammam”).


OVERVIEW: The sisters Raya and Sakina were convicted, along with their mates and two other accomplices, on May 16, 1921 of 17 murders of women in the Labban quarter of the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. The sisters were operators of four underground “houses of depravity.” Their victims were visitors some of whom were prostitutes, others married women using the facilities for trysts.

Their murder spree began in November 1919. The public became aware of the serial murders of women only in November of the following year when Al-Ahram newspaper displayed the shocking headline: “Women slaughtered in Labban: 12 corpses unearthed.” The murderers’ confessions revealed that they would drug the victims by offering them a drink, then strangle them, working as a team, each with a specific task: “one of the killers would clamp his hands over the victim’s mouth, another would grab hold of her throat, a third would hold her hands behind her back and the fourth would pin down her feet until she stopped breathing. Abdel-Aal was in charge of holding the feet.”

The trial of Raya and Sakina lasted three days, from May 10th to the 12th in 1921. On May 16, 1921, the court issued the death sentence against Raya and Sakina, their husbands and two “thugs” who had taken part in the actual murders of the 17 women.

For a thorough history of the case see Al-Ahram Weekly, June 1999


EXCERPT: A year after their arrest, the court sentenced all of the group to death by hanging. On December 21, 1921, a woman was executed for the first time in modern Egyptian history – in fact, not one but two. [Eyal Sagui Bizawe, “Sisters without mercy: Behind Egypt's most infamous murder case.” Harretz, Dec. 27, 2014]


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 3): The trial of a band of assassins who murdered women in order to obtain their jewels, and then buried them in the courtyard of a house in Alexandria, trial take place in Cairo soon.

The police have arrested the two principals – a slim, small woman, attractive in appearance, named Sekina, and the chief cut-throat, a little blackish man of villainous aspect, called Raya. Their preliminary evidence in Court created a sensation.

The woman Sekina entered the box, and after smoothing her hair and draping the folds of her gown to her satisfaction, recited her crimes without the flicker of an eyelid or a change in the calm confidence of her expression.

“I myself have cut the throats of six women,” she began. “My first victim was called Hanem. I leaned over Hanem as if to whisper in her ear. Soon after death had passed.”

The second victim came to sell her something. The killing of this woman was attended to by another member of the band, as Sekina “had to go out to buy some medicine for her sore feet.” She gave the order, and when she returned the victim was stretched on the floor. “Death had passed,” Sekina said again.

Her third victim was a young girl she had lured by promising to tell her fortune. As she dealt the cards she made a sign with her eves to an accomplice, and “death passed that way.” This peculiar phrase was used by the murderess in connection with each crime.

“After a throat-cutting or smothering we took off the jewellery and searched for the valuables, which were divided. I had to look sharp to make sure I was not cheated out of my share.”

Once she tried to sever her connection with the other murderers, but was unable, to do so, and she was obliged regretfully to take an active part in the earring of “a dear friend’s” throat, for fear of the other members of this horrible society. Details of the disposal of the bodies followed.

[“‘Death Passed That Way.’ - Murderess Recites Her Crimes.” The Auckland Star (Australia), Apr. 30, 1921, p. 1]


FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 3): Alexandria, Sunday. – The search for the bodies of the 42 women who have mysteriously disappeared here during the last 18 months has resulted in the discovery of 14 more corpses, making a total of 32 found. A quantity of bones has also been discovered the identity of which has not yet been established.

Ten corpses were found in one room in the house of a procuress named Sekina, who has confessed her responsibility for most of the murders. All these bodies were neatly buried under the floor in two rows feet to feet.

Some of the murdered women were of the poor and respectable class; others native prostitutes who, it is believed, were murdered for the sake of their jewellery.

A number of other houses previously inhabited by members of Sekina’s gang are being searched.

The police believe that there have been many murders of a similar nature during the last 4 or 5 years.

About 18 arrests have been made. These people seem to have made no profit out of their alleged crimes as they were living in the most wretched conditions.— Reuter.

The discoveries began, as stated by our Cairo correspondent on Friday, with a body in a drain of a house which a woman recently left. Searching the house of this woman’s sister, the police found two bodies buried under the floor.

[“Female ‘Bluebeard.’ – Confesses To Share Of 32 Murders.” Daily Mail (London, England), Nov. 22, 1920, p. 10]


FULL TEXT (Article 3 of 3): ALTHOUGH now a modernized and a hybrid sort of a place in the eyes of the average tourist, Alexandria famed city of Alexander the Great and metropolis of Egypt under the Ptolemies once again steps into the limelight this time by reason of the confessions of Sekina Aly Hammam the Woman Bluebeard whose revelations have caused civilized Egypt and all Europe, especially the parts which border on the Mediterranean sea, to experience a sensation of ghastly horror. Even Paris, jaded and calloused to post-war excesses, is fairly speechless with amazement at the cold-blooded atrocities to which this avaricious Egyptian woman has with indifference admitted authorship.

Many a weird and shocking tale has come out of the land of the Caliphs. But never before has Egypt or rather Cairo or Alexandria its two most important centers of population, with the customary large lawless element found in all seaports of the Suez Canal region, supplied any such story of barbarous cruelty and systematized loot. That a woman should have been the directing brain in such an uninterrupted campaign of butchery and wholesale theft makes it all the more abhorrent to the minds of Europeans and Americans, who will also be appalled by the fact that all of the victims nearly four score were women.

This though means nothing to the native of Egypt nor to the traveler who is familiar with the views of a land where the inferiority of the gentler sex is essentially a part of the national religion. Innumerable passages in the Koran testify to the idea maintained by the founder of the Moslem faith of the ineradicable iniquity of womankind.

“I stood at the Gates of Paradise,” wrote the pessimistic old prophet, “and lo, most of the inhabitants were the poor and I stood at the gates of Hell and lo, most of the inhabitants were women.”

Several weeks ago, when the daily newspapers of Paris first gave hint of the well-nigh incredible chain of murders attributed to the woman Sekina and her sister, Raya George Owen Hastings, the special foreign correspondent who had but recently returned from Wales, whither he went to report the trial of Greenwood, the central figure in the strange Kidwelly poison mystery, set forth at once for Alexandria where, as is frequently the case with newspaper investigators in the United States, he was of to be of vital assistance to the Egyptian authorities in tracking down members of Sekina’s organized band of assassins.

The story he sends back is almost unbelievable to Americans. His assertions that no Mohammedan takes a woman seriously, that he regards her as merely an ornamental appendage of his household and is not quite satisfied that she has a soul are interesting in the extreme to people of a land which accords woman the highest place in the social scheme and at the same time they throw light upon the unheard of boldness and insensibility of the hired ruffians who could operate to the extent of sending 72 women to death with no other incentive than the few odd bits of jewelry and odd piece of silver they possessed when lured to their doom.



THROUGH the characteristic pertinacity of an American engineer, temporarily resident in Alexandria, there has just been brought to light in that city all the facts in an orgy of slaying and robbery such as would have spread horror throughout ancient Egypt, a country of mystery and of bloodshed.

I arrived here from Alexandria yesterday, glad to leave behind the noxious sights beheld in course of inquiry into this monstrous plot of slaughter and ghoulish robbery I had thought that my eagerness to get away from Alexandria was fathered merely by a desire to come to a city offering better hotel accommodations and more of the tourist comforts but I realize now as I am writing that it was chiefly the yearning to come away from scenes of such horror as I had witnessed.

It will be, I fear, many years before I can efface the memories of the five houses which I saw partly demolished in an effort to rescue the bodies of 72 girls and young women who had been put to death by various lethal agencies in order that the cupidity of one woman might be satisfied. It was a grewsome process surpassing all attempts at description at each of which the accused woman was present. Yet not so much as by the flutter of an eyelid did she betray any conception of the enormity of the crimes which she calmly confessed.

As, one by one, the bodies of her victims denuded of what cheap finery they had once worn and shorn of all the real and imitation jewelry with which they had once been adorned were brought to light, Sekina Aly Hammam stood by, a shadow of Oriental inscrutability over her coarsened Amazonian features. At times she seemed bored. Once or twice she broke into a torrent of mixed Egyptian and Arabic oaths and abuse as if wearied at having to stand by and witness verification of matters with which she was already thoroughly cognizant.

In custody at present, besides Sekina and her sister Raya, are two other Egyptian women known to the police as Sadah and Haidee, and three men, miserable specimens of the waterfront outcast and alley assassin whose names are not material. The men and the two other women may not pay the extreme penalty for the murders but there is no chance that they will escape altogether. Now that the authorities have finally become keen to the scope of this staggering underworld plot they are bent upon seeing that justice shall be dealt out after the European fashion. Sekina and Raya will pay the death penalty. They have not yet had formal trial but I am in a position to say it, had they not confessed the evidence against them would be too sweeping. The story alone told by one of the men and women accomplices would be sufficient to convict.

I have just said they will go before the executioner. They will unless some night a jail attendant grows fatigued at the sight of them or tires of answering their calls for some scanty prison comfort. In that case the sisters will be found in their cells next morning lifeless on the stone flooring and their dusky throats slit. Then it will be given out that two irreligious and ill-begotten daughters of an infidel dog had committed suicide. I learned quite a bit about Egyptian gaols during my stay in Alexandria.

The name of the American who upturned all this terrible recital of bloodshed and greed is John Edgar Madden formerly of Akron, Ohio. He came to Egypt on an errand of hydraulic engineering about twelve years ago, and was induced to remain in an advisory capacity to the administration of the Suez Canal and the Nile delta. About six months ago business took Mr. Madden to Alexandria for an indefinite stay. He engaged an apartment at No 5 Rue Marcoris not far from the Place Mahomet Ali, or as it is known to American tourists, the Grand square Rue Marcoris, is not what might be called a fashionable street for all its proximity to the plaza. Indeed one section of it is distinctly off color and the very house in which Mr. Madden rented an apartment had at one time had a suspicious reputation. This Mr. Madden knew, so he told me, but as he said there were certain arrangements about the rooms which he liked and as his neighbors probably wouldn’t have any higher respect for him than he was certain he felt for them, he was not going to allow a little thing like the one-time good or bad repute of a building to interfere with his personal case.

Whereupon he paid his rent and moved in. Immediately he discovered that his apartment for all its cleaning and renovating suffered from an entirely different aroma than that which marks. Alexandria to the sensitive nostril of every American and European visitor coming within the city gates. The dominant odor of Alexandria is camel. Few of you Americans have ever sniffed it in all its undiluted puissance. You may remember a visit to the circus and the feeling of faintness as you passed by the camel herd. Or you may have toured the zoological garden and brought away from the camel corral a nose to which you thought you had done violence. These incidents are trifles. One has never realized the might of the camel odor until one has been in Alexandria.

Americans and Englishmen living in Alexandria told me that it was not until they had been in the city six months at the shortest that they were able to ignore the camel smell and the camel taste which assailed them everywhere I can attest that while in Alexandria in every restaurant I entered I tasted camel in the soup, in the butter, in the vegetables, in the water and in the coffee. Never was there any taste or smell similar. Now I know why it is so easy to steal a camel in this country and not be traced.

For a nasal expert such as Mr. Madden had come to be after a twelve-year residence in an odorful community he rapidly sorted out the respective perfumes which greeted him when he took possession of the apartment in Rue Marcoris. He properly classified them and then complained to his landlord that there was one especial pestilential odor which would have to be muffled. The landlord assured him it was nothing but camel and the American made reply by engaging three native laborers and starting a personal examination of the drain pipes.

The second floor was ripped out but no results were attained. Then the ground floor was attacked. The scent led to a remote corner in the basement or rather an excavation rudely dug under the street floor and stretching out beneath the sidewalk. For an entire day the workmen bent to it with pick and spade. At last they encountered the dismembered arm of a woman. Six feet distant the head of a woman yet sufficiently preserved to identify the sex of its owner at a glance was unearthed.

As if there were nothing unusual about the affair, Mr. Madden bade his workmen go ahead with their task. Meantime he dispatched his personal servant to police headquarters. The gendarmes responded quickly for Egyptians. They got around in something like three hours by which time Mr Madden had a pile of eight skeletons to offer as evidence that revolting crimes had been committed in the house.

~ Women Occupy Degraded Position. ~

The American, however, had, in his several years residence in this country acquired an excellent insight into the Egyptian character. Knowing that the surest way to spread the news of the discovery and thereby warn the criminal that the police were on his trail would be to appear in the least excited over what had taken place in his abode he concealed from the workmen the fact that he had sent for the authorities. Instead he told the laborers who had done the excavating that he had other similar jobs which he desired done and paying them well sent them away after he had taken their names and addresses.

As for the police – well they were for the most part natives and as was to have been expected they were not in the slightest agitated over the discovery. Their general attitude of carelessness in any other country would have been maddening. If they displayed any emotion over the affair it was rather one of admiration that it had been accomplished on such wholesale and magnificent scale. That so many women had been murdered meant nothing at all to them.

In all countries under the yoke of Islam women occupy a notoriously inferior and degraded position and nowhere is it lower and more degraded than in this particular part of Egypt. Though universal equality and fraternity are the cardinal principles of the Moslem cult women are altogether excluded from enjoying the benefits of these liberal tenets. All over the East women are the rich mans toys and the poor mans chattels. Whose affair is it anyway if a rich effendi or a poverty-stricken wretch wants a woman put out of the way? Its only a woman! That is the idea here.

It is difficult to predict where the discoveries made by Mr. Madden would have ended had the duty of continuing the inquiry had been let to the inert police force of the city. I should not like to assert bluntly that the case would have been closed with the removal of the eight bodies from the cellar in the Rue Marcoris if it had been left entirely in the hands of the underlings, though I am constrained to this opinion for the reason that the police department of Alexandria is far from being well organized and it is seldom that the under officers take the trouble to report matters of importance to their superiors.

Having unearthed conditions which gave indication of the existence of a defiant band of robbers and cutthroats holding the city at its mercy Mr. Madden undertook to see the matter through. His first step was to learn from his landlord the names of the tenants who had occupied the house before he moved in. With this knowledge he went to the police captain of the Labbane quarter an official of intelligence and a man who takes his position as a guardian of the law with proper seriousness. Mr. Madden at first said he was anxious to find these former tenants as he wished to return some property which they had left behind when they moved from the house. A search of the city failed to gain track of them. All that could be ascertained so this police captain one Kareh reported was that the occupants of the house were in the habit of leaving the place at daybreak and not returning until nightfall each evening. For the next three days the investigation was at a standstill. Kareh had suspected from the first that the house had once been used for improper purposes. With the true oriental idea of the picturesque he disguised himself as a wandering beggar and haunted the wharves and the camel markets working himself into the confidence of the army of petty thieves and outlaws who infest these places. On the third day of his masquerading one of his disreputable but unwitting confederates pointed out to him on the waterfront a woman who was known to have visited the house in Rue Marcoris under its former occupancy. The disguised police officer approached the woman and on his promise that he would contrive to filch a fat purse somewhere in the course of the afternoon she agreed to meet him at 9 o’clock in the evening. She named a notorious drinking den in the Labbane quarter as the place of rendezvous.

When Kareh went to keep the appointment he was well equipped for the work in hand. To start with he had availed himself of some valuable information at headquarters As in a great many cities in Europe. Alexandria’s police force had a list of all the undesirable women of the town Kareh found this woman to be well-known as a thief and all-round bad character. It was arranged that Mr Madden also should go to the crooks’ cafe that evening to be on hand in the event that the woman gave trouble. She was waiting when Kareh arrived with plenty of silver pieces to show that his deft fingers had been busy dipping into others pockets. Therefore he was high in her estimation.

Representing himself as the Algerian or crony of a man who had once lived at No 5 Rue Marcoris Kareh bought drinks with bewildering rapidity. Under the influence of liquor the woman began to boast of her knowledge of No 5.

“I know all about the house and everything that has gone on there for the last two years,” she bragged. “Did not my own sister Sekina Aly Hammam keep the place? But it was a quiet house compared to the others!

“You should see the house at 38 Rue Aly el Kebir Go there and you will find bodies by the dozens. There is one the body of a woman who wore expensive jewels which is stuffed into an old sofa covered with drapery. We have not had time to bury her yet And there are about five under the floor of the little room to the left as you enter the hallway.”

As heartless and as startling as these disclosures may appear in print the woman told more details which are not needed here to emphasize the scope of the death ring she and her sister had drawn around the playthings of Alexandria’s night life. Even Kareh accustomed to tales of dark crime was dumb with the shock of the revelations. The woman gave her name as Raya and invited Kareh to visit her. He accepted but before leaving the cafe he excused himself upon the pretense of borrowing some money from a friend whom he had just espied in the room. This friend was the American engineer. The sequel to the supposed financial transaction was that when Kareh and the woman arrived at No. 38 Rue Aly el Kebir Madden and a detachment of police were waiting for them.

~ Attempts to Drive Dirk Into Breast. ~

When Raya was finally landed in a cell after a fight in which she all but succeeded in driving a dirk into her breast she was placed in solitary confinement. Her grewsome story was verified in all essentials the next day when Madden had summoned his gang of native laborers found in the house that day alone among them that of a named Bahia Serepta, who, several months before, had vanished from the quarter. Her disappearance had been noticed by the police mainly because a search had been made for her on suspicion of being implicated in the robbery of a ship purser, who had carelessly allowed himself to wander in dangerous quarter after midnight. Bahia was known and her associates for her possession of some solid gold bangl bracelets and anklets, it developed,  and in course of events Raya confessed that the girl was choked to death by two hiremen accomplices so she might become the owner of these glittering ornaments. The body of Bahia was found crammed among the cushions of the old sofa as Raya had foretold.

Having found herself betrayed by her supposed latest admirers, who seemed so endlessly supplied with silver, Raya set a stubborn course for herself in prison. She refused to tell the whereabouts of her sister Sekina. She attempted a hunger strike. She tried to garrote a policeman who entered her cell to question her, springing upon his back as he entered the door. All efforts to trap her into revealing the hiding place of her sister failed.

Then proceeding along lines which will no doubt impress American readers as ridiculous, if not impossible, the police went about the business of finding Sekina. They knew she would make no effort to learn from them where Raya had vanished to. All information that the police had stumbled upon across the trail of the murderers was suppressed from the public. By generous wages, Madden was able to tie the tongues of his force of sullen workmen who probably thought the American himself was a criminal and was trying to remove the evidence of this infamy. So while the underworld denizens of Alexandria lived their daily routine in ignorance that a net was being spread throughout the city the police kept on the track.

Kareh haunted the cafe in the Labbane quarter nightly posing as the enraged and discarded suitor of the missing Raya. Professing to console himself with the smiles of another young woman, whose acquaintance he had made in the den, he was warned that knowing Raya would get him in trouble; if he doubted the truth of the warning he could easily satisfy himself by watching the house at No 8 Rue Garet El Naggah.

Feeling that the time had come when he could strike boldly Kareh took a chance and with a warrant went to the designated house and demanded to see Sekina Aly Hamman. He found her. A few minutes afterward she left the house wit him in the impression that he was leading her to the bedside of Raya but recently fallen ill. When safely distant from the house, precluding the possibility of an outcry and an attempt at rescue, Kareh turned his prisoner over to a waiting squad of gendarmes.

What followed contain an element of comedy. Had I not been present to see for myself I would naturally say, as I fancy most of my readers will be moved to feel, that such a ruse as was tried and usefully worked upon the two murderous sisters was entirely too absurd and childish for belief. Those who would doubt, however, are reminded that what I am relating took place is Egypt and that the object of the deception were women who have from birth the one idea that anything a man wishes to do with them is possible. In company with Mr. Madden I saw the Egyptian equivalent of the famous American “third degree” applied to Sekina and Raya. I have never seen the method in use in America, but I know it can be nothing like this.

At first the sisters with dogedness maintained silence. They broke this silence when a mock flogging was arranged in the adjoining cell. A gigantic negro cracked a bull whip viciously in the air in the next cell while an attendant all but split the prison wall with his agonized shrieks and promises to answer any question he might be asked. A few minutes of this well fabricated uproar and Sekina fell on her knees, beseeching the jailers to tell her why she was being detained the prefect of police in person told her it was for the purpose of having her tell her it was for the purpose of having her tell the truth about the houses in Rue Marcoris and in Rue Aler Bey Kebir.

Sekina responded that she knew nothing. She admitted having visited the house in Rue Marcoris on two occasions to call on her friend, the wife of a tailor. Kareh at this point introduced his trump card. In the house where Raya lived he had found a woman’s flannel undervest richly embroidered with multicolored silken threads sewed in the lining of this vest were bank notes to the value of 160 Egyptian pounds. At a signal from the prefect a veiled figure led into the cell. To all appearances it was a magician accredited with with clairvoyance. This faker broke into a whirling dance after the manner of a dervish, falling apparently from exhaustion at the feet of Raya. As he did so he produced from the folds of his robes the flannel vest. Both women shrank from the sight of it. Hoarse gasps of fear came from their lips as the magician spread the vest on the stone floor at their feet and toughed it with his forehead three times. When he arose, he drew from his skirts a knife which Kareh also had found in the house of many deaths and with the weapon he carefully slit away the lining where was concealed the Egyptian money. He counted it into equal parts, which he next solemnly handed to the sisters.

It was a cheap deception and not especially well carried out according to Western ideas of such tricks, but it was enough to unlock the lips of the two superstitious women. To them it was “fate.” They did not become hysterical. With an air of resignation verging almost upon the pathetic they bowed before the prefect.

“It belonged to Ferdos,” said Sekina in whispered tones.

I should like to make it clear here that the terrible confessions which followed from both women could have been nothing but the truth. Third degree practices, beyond doubt, have at times worked cruelty and wrought from tortured victims false admissions in the hope of escaping some of the torments of inquisition, but there was no trace of such injustice here. All that they told of themselves and of the crimes they admitted were corroborated by subsequent investigation.

~ Death Scenes are Described. ~

Sekina said that her murderous operations within the last year had netted her no less than 8,000 pounds. She told where her jewels which she had purchased with some of her spoils were hidden. Raya was no less voluble. She described one after another the death scenes of their miserable prey. They gave directions as to where different bodies were interred. They enumerated the methods by which various women were put to death, explaining that some were strangled, some stabbed, some attacked from behind with bludgeons and still others slain by choloroform or arsenic. The favorite method, they admitted, was by strangulation. Moreover, the sisters gave the names of the miserable cutthroats whom they employed, and Sekina capped the mountain of atrocities by producing a notebook in which she kept accurate entries of the amounts in cash and in gems realized from the corpses and the sums each had cost her in miserly fees to the executioners.

Most of the murders, it was shown, were done in the three houses already located, but Sekina admitted that she rented two other rooms in other sections of the city, one in the Rue des Sultans and one in the Rue Ghawazee – an alley rather than a street, taking its name from the number dance-halls which fringe its curb. She seldom slept in these rooms but she carried keys to them in case she encountered a subject of such affluence that a speedy death was advisable. No bodies, however, were found buried beneath these two houses. Women slain there were hidden for a day or two while a guard was placed at the door to see that no one entered, and then by night the bodies were removed to the cellars of one of the other houses and thrown in the hurriedly constructed trench on top of the other mutilated forms.

Sekina told the police that the first murder she had committed was done at the suggestion of a tailor who had been on friendly terms with her sister Raya. The wife of a rich carpenter had sent a coat to another shop in Rue des Soers. He proposed that they both go to the other shop for the garment and the woman acquiesced. The tailor, before starting out, communicated with Sekina, who apparently by chance met him and the carpenter’s wife on their way to the stop in cafe. His invitation was acted upon and the three had glasses of cognac.

Presently the tailor, by a prearrangement, announced that he would go to the other shop for the coat asked that the women await his return. While he was gone, Sekina related, she persuaded her drunken dupe to accompany her home under the pretense of looking at a quantity of silk which she intimated had come into her hands from underground channels. Together they walked to the house in Rue Marconis, from which the carpenter’s wife never came out. A glass of drugged wine sent the woman into sleep, during which Sekina choked her to death with her bony but powerful fingers. The tailor returned to the house later in the evening and he and Sekina dismembered the body and buried it in the basement.

It was so easy a job and the profits so huge, when one considers the oriental value placed on the life of a mere woman, the original investment in this instance, that Sekina directly had the notion of going into strangulation as a steady business. Her sudden accession to wealth aroused the suspicions of her sister, however, and in the course of a few days she wilted under the incessant questioning and admitted the slaying. Then, according to Sekina, Raya mentioned a woman acquaintance who seemed to be a promising prospect in a new business. The one marked for death was a pretty Arabian girl who was living in the Labbano quarter under the lavish patronage patronage of an elderly Englishmen. The sisters represented to the girl that some tourists with whom they had become acquainted in a cafe had planned a trip to Cairo and needed one other girl to complete the party. The little Arabian was won over by the opportunity to break the monotony of an evening away from her master and consented to go on the mythical excursion. She did more; she told her protector of the party, refraining, however, from mentioning the tourists, and obtained his permission to be absent for three days.

Thus the plotters had disarmed suspicion. When the girl failed to return to the Englishman’s apartment within the stipulated time he omitted to report the disappearance to the police. A forged letter to him some weeks afterward set forth that the girl had wearied of Alexandria and intended to stay in Cairo. As was expected, the man dropped her from his thoughts.

What had happened, though, was this: The sisters coaxed the girl into putting on some costly jewelry and to wear her most expensive attire. When she went to the home of Sekina to meet her new friends she was seized as she got in the door, her arms pinioned behind her and a gag placed between her teeth. Next she was roped upon a lounge and the sisters stood over her teeth. Next she was roped upon a lounge and sisters stood over her with cloths saturated in chloroform which they pressed over her mouth and nose. It was a painless death, though certain. After the girl had ceased breathing they robbed her of all valuables, taking even the silk stockings and richly embroidered underwear. The body was chopped up with a hatchet, this on the word of the tailor, Hazballah, who expects immunity from the death sentence in return for his candid story.

~ Distinctive Phase of Each Crime. ~

Each instance of the violent deeds admitted by the sisters has some distinctive phase. Each in certain detail just a little more heinous and devilish than the other. Not the least remarkable feature of the chain of crimes is that those women were able to perpetrate them without any other of the tenants of the building hearing the outcries, for it inconceivable that the victims, excepting those who were put away by anesthetics or drugged liquor, went to their deaths without struggling.

In respect to women, Egypt today is, as has been said, as benighted as it was in the darkest of ages. The beat that can be said of Alexandria is that it is a city of memories. It was in Alexandria that St. Mark suffered martyrdom for his teaching of the gospel of Christ and it was in Alexandria that Athanasius did battle with the Arian heretics. Later it was in Alexandria that Greek culture centered where were gathered the greatest intellects of the age. It was in Alexandria that a woman once ruled supreme – Cleopatra, “vainquerer des vainqueurs du monde” – where this entertaining siren held Antony in willing bondage while Octavius was preparing his legions to crush the Roman.

It was in Alexandria, too, that Amru became a mighty conqueror, and there Abercrombie fell. Even those whose tastes do not incline them to historical researches as familiar with Kingsley’s immortal romance with the story of the noble-minded Hypathia and Cyril, to recall which is to recall Egypt.

And it is here that the native values to or a woman at zero. “The worst of this deplorable state of things,” so has written Mr. Stanley Lane-Poole, a British Egyptologist of wide reputation, “is that there seems no reasonable prospect of improvement. The Mohammedan social system is so thoroughly bound up with the religion that it appears an almost hopeless task to attempt to separate the two. As long as the Mohammedan religion exists, the social life with the which it has unfortunately become identified will probably survive; and whilst the latter prevails in Egypt we can not expect the higher results of civilization.”

[George Owen Hastings, “Solving the Startling Mystery of a Female Bluebeard. – How the Unaccountable Disappearance of Seventy-Two Young Women in the Ancient Egyptian City Where Cleopatra Entranced Mark Anthony Has Been Traced at Last to the Operations of a Desperate Gang of Cutthroats, the Leader of Whom Was a Woman,” King Features Syndicate, Washington Post (D. C.), Jan. 16, 1921, p. 4]






Links to more cases: Female Serial Killers Who Like to Murder Women


More cases: Female Serial Killers Executed

[16,894-9/15/18; 20,054-7/26/20]


  1. Actually, Abdel-Al is Sakina's Husband .. Their names are Rayya and Sakina Ali Hammam! .. It's not Rayya in the second picture and none of the victims had as Name Bahia :)

  2. What source? The 1999 Al Haram source gives the captions one way and a 2014 article in Haaretz has switched the captions and has modified the photos too. Apparently there is a complete list of all victims. Do you have an online source for the complete list? The victim pictured is identified as such by a journalist present during the investigation in 1920.

  3. where did the George Owen Hastings source come from?

    1. [George Owen Hastings, “Solving the Startling Mystery of a Female Bluebeard. – How the Unaccountable Disappearance of Seventy-Two Young Women in the Ancient Egyptian City Where Cleopatra Entranced Mark Anthony Has Been Traced at Last to the Operations of a Desperate Gang of Cutthroats, the Leader of Whom Was a Woman,” King Features Syndicate, Washington Post (D. C.), Jan. 16, 1921, p. 4]

  4. That is completely wrong.
    they were only 17 bodies not 72, and also no American discovered the crime. it was the property owner who discovered the corpses during his renovations.
    and of course, There were no camels at all in Alexandria. The serial killers lived in slums but Alexandria was one of the most modern Mediterranean cities during this time.

    1. Thanks. Any English language sources would be helpful.

      It is common for newspapers reporting on sensational cases -- especially by overseas correspondents -- to have distortions and inaccuracies that need correction by accurate sources.