Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Frau Virag, Double Black Widow – Hungary, 1931

FULL TEXT: The gendarmerie of Debreczin has come to terms with a poisoning. An investigation has been launched against the fifty-year-old peasant Virag from a village near Debreczin, as she is under serious suspicion of having her first husband murdered by Arsenik twelve years ago. The death was already suspicious at that time, but the local doctor states that the cause of death was intestinal complications.

Some time ago, the second husband of the farmer's wife also allegedly committed suicide, so that the chain of suspicion intensified. Since there were also numerous onerous moments that speak against the peasant woman, an investigation was initiated. The body of the first man was exhumed and a large amount of arsenic was found in the grave. The court experts are of the opinion that the poison has left the body of the dead man. Based on the result of the autopsy, the farmer's wife was arrested.

[“Again arsenic murders in Hungary. A fifty-year-old peasant woman arrested.” Das Kleine Blatt (Vienna, Austria), 26 August 1927, p. 3]


FULL TEXT: Budapest,  25.August. – Die Gendarmerie von Debreczinist ivieder einem Giftmord auf die Spur gekommen. Gegen die fünfzigjälirige Bäuerin Virag aus einem Dorfeinder Umgebung von Debreczin wurde eine Untersuchung eingeleitet, da sie im dringenden Verdacht steht, vor zwölf  Jahren ihren ersten Gatten mit Arsenikermordet zu haben. Der Todesfall war schon damals verdächtig gewesen, doch stellte der Ortsarzt Gedärmeverwicktung als Todesursache fest.

Vor einiger Zeit hat auch der zweite Mannder Bäuerin angeblich Selbstmord verübt, so daß sich die Verdachts kette verdichtete. Da sich auch außerdem zahl reiche belastende Momente, die gegen die Bäuerin sprechen, ergaben, wurde die Unterstichung eingeleitet. Die Leiche des ersten Mannes wurde exhumiert und im Grabe eine große Menge Arsenik vorgefunden. Die Gerichtssachverständigen sind der Ansicht, daß das Gift aus dem störper des Toten ausgeschieden sei. Auf Grund des Ergebnisses der Obduktion wurde die Bäuerin Verhaftete.

[“Wieder Arsenikmorde in Ungarn. Eins fünfzigjährige Bäuerinverhaftet.” Das Kleine Blatt (Vienna, Austria), 26 August 1927, p. 3]



For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.

Monday, April 29, 2019

“Coby Serial Baby-Killer” – 1906, South Africa

FULL TEXT (Translated from German): According to the Evening Standard, from Coby, South Africa, a woman was arrested there suspected of killing over 100 children. The crime was discovered by the disappearance of a one-year-old child whose body was found in a pond. When the pond was drained, over 50 child skeletons were found. The criminal said she could name a number of women who commit similar crimes.

[“A Mass-murderess.” Frie Stimmen (Klagenfurt, Austria), Aug. 8, 1906, p. 10]


NOTE: The town of Coby, South Africa, has not yet been located.


FULL TEXT: Wie dem “Evening-Standard" aus Coby in Südafrika berichtet wird, wurde dort eine Frau verhaftet, die im Verdachte steht, über 100 Kinder umgebracht zu haben. Das Verbrechen wurde durch das Verschwinden eines einjährigen Kindes, dessen Leiche in einem Teich gefunden wurde, entdeckt. Als der Teich abgelassen wurde, fand man darin über 50 Kinderskelette. Die Verbrecherin erklärte, eine ganze Reihe von Frauen namhaft machen zu können, die ähnliche Verbrechen begehen.

[“Eine Massenmörderin.” Frie Stimmen (Klagenfurt, Austria), Aug. 8, 1906, p. 10]


Marie Manin, Suspected Serial Killer – France, 1937

FULL TEXT: (Translated from German): Mar. 5. – Within a short space of time a farmer and two farmhands, who had relations with the widow [Marie] Manin, died on a farm in Chante Perdrix. Five witnesses, who had spoken in open conversation about the guilt of the peasant woman in the death of her husband and the two servants, themselves mysteriously perished, found dead as apparent victims of accidents. The case against Ms. Manin was set to be closed for lack of evidence. Now, the eleven-year-old son of the widow counts that he saw his mother and a servant slaying his father. The widow was arrested, she admitted the murders of her husband and servants after a long denial; but probably she will also have the mysterious end of the five witnesses on her conscience.

[“A Mass-murderess.” Salzburger Volksblatt (Austria), 5. März 1937. p. 3]



FULL TEXT (Translated from French): In spite of its pretty name, the farm of Chante-Perdrix, perched on the side of a hill in the rough country of the Drome, brings bad luck.

It was the good of Gabriel Manin, a solid guy from the ground, when, in 1931, bad luck decided to take his first shot.

On the night of May 2nd, Manin disappeared. His bicycle was found soon after, abandoned on the banks of the Isere, in Romans.

“He committed suicide,” he said, then, in the village of Peyrins.

And the Manin woman to abound in this sense.

Pretty woman besides the Manin, a brunette girl of the mountain with big ardent eyes whose reputation was not to scare the gallants.

The Manin does. She did not cry too much for the death of her husband. There was then on the farm a valet, a young lad of 17, Paul Puzin, who had won the good graces of the farmer for a long time.

On June 30 of the same year, the body of the deceased was drafted in Saulce-sur-Saone. The autopsy was formal: Manin was murdered.

The bad tongues soon spread nasty noises.

It was over the happiness of the Manin and his youth. The gendarmes, the police, the magistrates of the public prosecutor’s office of Valencia, questioned the couple, returned ten, twenty times to the charge.

Wasted effort. The couple defended themselves well.

- Manin left the farm on the evening of May 2nd; we never had to see him again. If he was killed, he was the victim of a ranger.

They were half-believed, they benefited from the doubt and, ultimately, from an official non-place.

But the two lovers could not stay at the payp. The Manin fled to Grenoble, then to Boulogne-sur-Seine, leaving to his father, M. Maussert, the care of raising to his younger son René, an eleven-year-old had, moreover, confided the day after the tragedy of Chante-Perdrix.

Puzin simply went to the village of Mours.

And six years passed. During this time neither Manin nor his former lover became alarmed, but five unhappy men, who today would be useful witnesses, who, it seems, knew very well about the affair, disappeared in turn.

~ Five mysterious deaths ~

This is where the most tragic mystery of Chante-Partridge is now. Everyone who has approached the Manin household so far is dead.

First of all, it was the guy Christophe who, as we know today, had seen a stop near the tragic farm the night of the tragedy.

Then it was the turn of Father Pipet who, recklessly, said “to have seen things”.

The father of the driver of the mysterious car (it is still forbidden to pronounce his name, a next twist is planned on this side) committed suicide.

His brother also died.

Finally, it is Montagne, former gallant of the beautiful farmer who, on February 21, died of a cerebral congestion.

And that’s not all!

Puzin is dead

Puzin too is dead. He committed suicide the other day. We found the abandoned bicycle on the banks of the Isere, just as had been abandoned the bike Manin.

What, then, is the terrible secret of Chante-Perdix, which leads to so many happy men in death? Is the macabre list closed?

~ The accusations of a child

In truth, this secret will no longer be one when the woman Manin, who has been in police custody for twenty-four hours, has been told by the gendarmerie at Romans.

Lieutenant Gendarmerie Poncet knows it well. It is to him that we owe the rebound of the affair.

Lieutenant Poncet, the lieutenant with strange blue steel eyes, had learned a few weeks ago that little Rene was speaking.

The little Rene said among others to his comrades:

- I saw my dad between Mom and Puzin, just before he disappeared. His head was full of blood. I remember very well.

It was enough for the investigation to be resumed from beginning to end. Lieutenant Poncet took charge of it. He went to Mours, questioned Puzin, from 6 pm to 3 am. The next day, February 18, Puzin committed suicide.

He went to Peyrins and questioned Montagne, who on the night of the crime was prowling around the Manin farm. The next day, Montaigne was dying of congestion.

Lieutenant Poncet, today, does not hide his perplexity.

“I do not dare to question anybody,” he said. I have an apprehension.

I will eventually be unable to deliver a prisoner to the prosecutor of Valencia.

~ Is Puzin guilty? ~

Everything is mystery, it is true, everything is strange in this tragedy of love.

Because everything is played and played around the beautiful eyes of the beautiful farmer. Manin was not rich. He did not have any money. It is not a drama of the earth nor avarice; all this bloody affair was born from the fact that one evening in May, a hot and mild spring evening, all filled with the strong scents of the mountain, a woman asked one of her lovers to remove the troublesome husband.

What lover?

It may not be Puzin. There were others, others dead today, still others that we will hear tomorrow. Were they even several in the big mess of the farm, several who passively concerted to kill?

~ The mother and the son ~

But let’s get to yesterday.

The commissary Vatard, of the mobile brigade of Lyon – Lieutenant Poncet having prudently recused himself  – finally heard the dark heroine of this fantastic novel.

The questions were precise and insidious. The mad, stubborn, fiercely denied. Eur evening was the most dramatic confrontation.

The eleven year old son, facing his mother, accuses.

Manin exclaims:

- A child like that deserves to be killed!

The child maintains:

- I saw daddy’s head bleeding.

It was wanting for such a tragedy that the testimony of a child became the keystone of the investigation.

It should be noted that the child, questioned on known points dating from the time of the murder, answered precisely, demonstrating that his words were not the toy of his imagination.

However, during a second confrontation, little Rene retracted.

- So, you have all the time lying?

He hesitates and confesses:

- That is to say, just now, grandfather Maussert and a gentleman told me that I was a naughty boy.

They scared me, they told me that because of me mom would go to jail!

~ The grandfather ~

Also, this morning, Grandpa Maussert is also heard.

Very many witnesses are interviewed this morning and confronted with the Manin, who spent most of her night supporting an unequal struggle against investigators relaying to her in the hope of an admission.

This confession, the woman, breathless, will deliver it tonight? The truth, if it breaks out, after six years of silence, promises to surpass in horror dramas so far reputed to reach the highest peak of trafficking.

[“The Tragic Mystery Of The Farm Of Chante-Partridge (From Our Envoy Special A.-G. Leroux) Novels, 3 March. (By phone.) Paris Soir (France) 4 Marz 1937, p. 6]



FULL TEXT (Translated from French): PRIVAS, November 18th. Teleph. Morning. – This is the last act of Chante-partridge's case. Henri Tortel and Marie Manin will know their fate. To tell the truth, they do not seem reassured, after the hearing of the last witnesses heard last night. They are even less so now that Me Legrand pleaded on behalf of the plaintiff, because the lawyer was very hard on both cases, even though Advocate General Audibert was no longer great thing to say. He does not want to demand the death penalty against Marie Manin, because she is a mother, and he demands mitigating circumstances for Tortel. Mr. Turin, the young lawyer of the Bar of Valencia, gets down to his task with as much conviction as talent and the jury is moved by his pleading. The most pathetic moment of the pleading is that where the lawyer evokes the testimony of René Manin, the son of the victim, who was 4 years old and half at the time of his father's death.

His presence on the farm when Marin was killed, I see a proof of the innocence of Marie Manin if the murder of the farmer had been premeditated, your accomplices would have taken care to remove the child. At the resumption, one hears Me Vallentin du Cheylard, who presents the defense of Tortel, and Me Rey, who will plead again for the widow Manin.

At 17:15 the jurors withdraw to deliberate. They come back with an affirmative verdict and the judgment is made a few minutes later. The widow Manin is sentenced to 8 years of forced labor.

His accomplice Tortel is sentenced to 5 years of forced labor. The civil party obtains the damages franc which it claimed in symbolic form.

["At the Assises De L'ardèche - Marie Manin convicted of the murder of her husband is sentenced to eight years of forced labor - Her accomplice Tortel is sentenced to five years of the same sentence," Le Matin (Paris, France), 19 Nov. 1938, p. 6]


FULL TEXT: Paris, 5. März. – Auf einem Bauernhöfe in Chante Perdrix starben innerhalb kurzer Zeit der Besitzer und zwei Bauernknechte, die zu der Witwe Manin Beziehungen unter halten hatten. Fünf Zeugen, die sich im Gespräche über die Schuld der Bäuerinam Tode ihres Mannes und derbeiden Knechte geäußert hatten, gingen auf geheimnisvolle Weise zugrunde, sie wurden anscheinend als Opfer von Unfällen tot aufgefunden. Die Untersuchung gegen Frau Manin wurde zu nächst mangels an Beweisen eingestellt. Gesternerzählt nun der elfjährige Sohn der Witwe, er habe gesehen, wie seine Mutter und ein Knecht den Vater erschlagen haben. Die Witwe wurde darauf verhaftet, sie hat nachlangem Leugnen die Morde an ihrem Mann und den Knechten eingestanden; wahrscheinlich dürfte sie aber auch das geheimnisvolle Ende der fünf Zeugen auf dem Gewissen haben.

[“Eine Massenmörderin.” Salzburger Volksblatt (Austria), 5. März 1937. p. 3]


FULL TEXT: Malgré son joli nom, la ferme de Chante-Perdrix, perchée au flanc d’un coteau dans le rude pays de la Drome, porte malheur.

Elle était le bien de Gabriel Manin, un solide gars de la terre, lorsque, en 1931, le mauvais sort décida de porter son premier coup.

Dans la nuit du 2 mai, Manin disparut. Sa bicyclette fut retrouvée peu après, abandonnée sur les rives de l’Isère, à Romans.

— Il s’est suicidé, assura-t-on dès lors au village de Peyrins.

Et la femme Manin d’abonder dans ce sens.

Jolie femme au demeurant que la Manin, une brune fille de la montagne aux grands yeux ardents dont la réputation était de ne point s’effaroucher des galants.

La Manin ne. pleura pas outre mesure la mort de son époux. Il y avait alors à la ferme un valet, jeune gaillard de 17 ans, Paul Puzin, qui depuis belle lurette avait conquis lee bonnes grâces de la fermière.

Or le 30 juin de la même année, le corps du disparu était repêché à Saulce-sur-Saône. L’autopsie fut formelle: Manin était mort assassiné.

Les mauvaises langues eurent tôt fait de répandre de méchants bruits.

C’en était fini du bonheur de la Manin et de son jouvenceau. Les gendarmes, les policiers, les magistrats du parquet de Valence, interrogèrent le couple, revinrent dix, vingt fois à la charge.

Peine perdue. Le couple se défendit bien.

— Manin a quitté la ferme le 2 mai au soir; nous ne devions jamais le revoir. S’il a été tué, il a été la victime d’un rôdeur.

On les crut à demi, ils bénéficièrent dit doute et, en fin de compte, d’un officiel non-lieu.

Mais les deux amants ne pouvaient plus, rester au payp. La Manin se réfu gia à Grenoble, puis à Boulogne-sur-Seine, laissant à son père, M. Maussert, lè soin d’élever à Romans son fils René, un gamin aujourd’hui âgé de onze ans, qu’elle lui avait d’ailleurs confié dès le lendemain du drame de Chante-Perdrix.

Puzin, tout simplement, se terra au village de Mours.

Et six ans passèrent. Pendant ce  temps ni Manin ni son ancien amant  se firent inquiétés, maie cinq malheureux qui aujourd’hui seraient d’utilès témoins, qui, paraît-il, en surent fort long sur l’affaire, disparurent tour à tour.

~ Cinq morts mystérieuses  ~

C’est là qu’est maintenant le plus tragique mystère de Chante-Perdrix. Tous ceux qui ont approché de près ou de loin le ménage Manin sont morts.

D’abord ce fut le gars Christophe qui, on le sait aujourd’hui, avait vu une au- ta arrêtée près de la ferme tragique le soir du drame.

Puis ce fut le tour du père Pipet qui, imprudemment, disait « avoir vu des choses ».

Le père du conducteur de la mystérieuse auto (il est encore interdit de prononcer son nom, un prochain coup de théâtre étant prévu de ce côté) se suicida.

Son frère mourut également.

Enfin, c’est Montagne, ancien galant de la belle fermière qui, le 21 février dernier, décédait d’une congestion cérébrale.

Et ce n’est pas tout!

Puzin est mort

Puzin aussi est mort. Il e’est suicidé l’autre jour. On a retrouvé la bicyclette abandonnée sur les bords de l’Isère, tout comme avait été abandonné le vélo de Manin.

Quel et donc le terrible secret de Chante-Perdrix qui entraîne dans la  mort tant de ftialheureux ? La liste macabre est-elle close?

~ Les accusations d’un enfant

A la vérité, ce secret n’en sera plus un quand aura parlé la femme Manin,  gardée à vue depuis vingt-quatre heures à la gendarmerie de Romans.

Le lieutenant de gendarmerie Poncet le sait bien. C’est à lui qu’on doit le rebondissement de l’affaire.

Le lieutenant Poncet, le lieutenant aux étranges yeux bleus d’acier, avait appris voici quelques semaines, que le petit René parlait.

Le petit René disait entre autres à ses camarades:

— J’ai vu mon papa entre maman et Puzin, juste avant sa disparition. Il avait la tête pleine de sang. Je me souviens très bien.

C’en était assez pour que l’enquête fut reprise de bout en bout. Le lieutenant Poncet s’en chargea. Il alla à Mours, interrogea Puzin, de 6 heures du soir à 3 heures du matin. Le lendemain, le 18 février, Puzin se suicidait.

Il alla à Peyrins, questionner Montagne, qui le soir du crime rôdait autour de la ferme des Manin. Le lendemain, Montagne mourait de congestion.

Le lieutenant Poncet, aujourd’hui, ne cache pas sa perplexité.

— Je n’ose plus interroger personne, dit-il. J’ai comme une appréhension.

Je finirai par ne pouvoir livrer aucun prisonnier au procureur de Valence.

~ Puzin est-il coupable? ~

Tout est mystère, il est vrai, tout est étrange dans cette tragédie de l’amour.

Car tout se joue et s’est joué autour des beaux yeux de la belle fermière. Manin n’était pas riche. Il n’avait pas de magot. Ce n’est pas un drame de la terre ni de l’avarice; toute cette affaire sanglante est née de ce qu’un soir de mai, un soir de printemps ohaud et doux, tout empli des senteurs fortes de la montagne, une femme a demandé à l’un de ses amants de supprimer le mari gênant.

Quel amant?

Ce n’est peut-être pas Puzin. Il y en avait d’autres, d’autres morts aujour-d’hui, d’autres encore que l’on entendra demain. Etaient-ils même plusieurs dans  la grande salie de la ferme, plusieurs qui, passivement, se concertaient pour tuer?

~ La mère et le fils ~

Mais arrivons-en à hier.

Le commissaire Vatard, de la brigade mobile de Lyon — le lieutenant Poncet s’étant prudemment récusé — entendit enfin la sombre héroïne de ce fantastique roman.

Les questions lurent précises, insidieuses. La fême, têtue, nia farouchement. Eur le soir eut lieu la plus dramatique des confrontations.

Le fils de onze ans, face à sa mère, accuse.

La Manin s’écrie:

— Un enfant pareil mérite qu’on le tue!

L’enfant maintient :

— J’ai vu papa la tête en sang.

Il manquait pour corser pareille tragédie que le témoignage d’un gosse devînt la clef de voûte de le’nquête.

Il faut préciser que l’enfant, questionné sur des points connus datant de l’époque du meurtre, a répondu avec précision, démontrant que ses propos n’étaient pas le jouet de son imagination.

Cependant, au cours d’une seconde confrontation, le petit René se rétracta.

— Alors, tu as tout le temps menti?

Il hésite et avoue:

— C’est-à-dire que, tout à l’heure, grand-père Maussert et un monsieur m’ont dit que j’étais un vilain garçon.

Ils m’ont fait peur, ils m’ont dit qu’à cause de moi maman irait en prison!

~ Le grand-père ~

Aussi, ce matin, grand-père Maussert est-il également entendu.

De très nombreux témoins sont interrogés d’ailleurs ce matin et confrontés avec la Manin, qui a passé la plus grande partie de sa nuit à soutenir une lutte inégale contre les enquêteurs se relayant auprès d’elle dans l’espoir d’un aveu.

Cet aveu, la femme, à bout de souffle, le livrera-t-elle ce soir? La vérité, si elle éclate, après six ans de silence, promet de surpasser en horreur les drames jusqu’ici réputés pour atteindra la plus haut sommet du trafique.

[“Le Tragique Mystère  De La Ferme De Chante-Perdrix  (De Notre Envoye Special A.-G. Leroux)  Romans, 3 Mars. (Par Téléphone.) Paris Soir (France) 4 Marz 1937, p. 6]


FULL TEXT: PRIVAS, 18 novembre. Téléph. Matin. –Voici que se joue le der- nier acte de l'affaire de Chante-perdrix. Henri Tortel et Marie Manin vont connaître leur sort. A vrai dire, ils ne semblent guère rassurés, après l'audition des derniers témoins entendus hier soir. Ils le sont encore moins à présent que Me Legrand a plaidé au nom de la partie civile, car l'avocate s'est montrée très dure pour les deux àccusés si dure meme que l'avocat général, M. Audibert, n'a plus grand chose à dire. Il ne veut pourtant pas requérir la peine de mort contre Marie Manin, parce que c'est une mère, et il demande des circonstances atténuantes pour Tortel. Me Turin, le jeune avocat du barreau de Valence, s'attelle à sa tâche avec autant de conviction que de talent et les jurés sont 'émus par sa plaidoirie. L'instant le plus pathétique de la plaidoirie est celui où l'avocat évoque le témoignage de René Manin, le fils de la victime, qui avait 4 ans etdemi au moment de la mort de son père.

Sa présence à la ferme au moment ou Marin fut tué, j'y vois une preuve de l'innocence de Marie Manin si le meurtre du fermier avait été prémédité, tes complices auraient pris soin d'éloigner l'enfant. A la reprise, on entend Me Vallentin du Cheylard, qui présente la défense de Tortel, et Me Rey, qui plaidera encore pour la veuve Manin.

A 17 h. 15 les jurés se retirent pour délibérer. Ils reviennent avec un verdict affirmatif et l'arrêt est rendu quelques minutes plus tard. La veuve Manin est condamnée à 8 ans de travaux forcés.

Son complice Tortel est condamné à 5 ans de travaux forcés. La partie civile obtient le franc de dommages-intérêts qu'elle réclamait à titre symbolique.

[“Aux Assises De L'ardèche - Marie Manin reconnue coupable du meurtre de son mari est condamnée à huit ans de travaux forcés - Son complice Tortel est condamné à cinq ans de la même peine,” Le Matin (Paris, France), 19 Nov. 1938, p. 6]



Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Husband-Killing Syndicates

HUSBAND-KILLING SYNDICATES: The vast majority of victims of these conspiracies were husbands, yet some were wives or other family members, including children.

Among the cases listed below you will find news reports with such headlines as “Husband Poisoning by Wholesale” (1882), “Ten Husband Poisoners” (1890), “A New Business; Husband Poisoning on the Scale of a Commercial Enterprise” (1891), “Killing Off Husbands” (1895), “Epidemic of Poisoning in Hungary; Eighteen Men Killed” (1901), “Women Formed Club to Murder Husbands” (1903), “Woman Kills 300 At Wives’ Behest” (1909), “Exterminating Husbands” (1911), “Wanted to Be Widows So They Hanged Their Husbands” (1933), “Used Fly Paper to Kill Husbands” (1935), “How Wives Gained Power by Mass Murder of Husbands” (1937).

In the following collection are 63 cases which took place primarily in eastern Europe (Bohemia, Croatia, Colombia, Czechoslovakia, France, Hungary, Italy, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Sicily, Silesia, Spain, Ukraine, USA, Yugoslavia. The 59 Eastern European cases date from 1870 to 1947. 

► ● ◄ ● ► ● ◄ ● ◄ ● ► ● ◄ ● ► ● ◄ ● ► ● ◄

Leader: La Toffania (or, Toffania, Tofana, Toffana); teacher Hieronyma Spara.
Method: liquid poison sold in vials.
Victims: large numbers; mostly husbands.

1658: ITALY – Rome
Leaders: Hyeronyma Spara, Gratiosa, La Toffania; Spara, Gratiosa & 12 other hanged in 1659
Method: liquid poison called "Tifana water."
Victims: over 700.

Leader: Giovanna Bonanno; executed Jul. 30, 1789.
Method: poison, a mixture of spring water, white wine and arsenic, intended to kill lice, purchased from apothecary then resold; 3 stages of dosage.
Victims: 6 confirmed (4 men, 2 women), many more suspected.

60 women hanged for poisoning husbands with arsenic.
Note: The source is probably in error, mistakenly referring to the cases of the 1880s, yet referring to the 1850s.

1868: FRANCE - Marseilles
Leader: Monsieur Joye, herbalist.
Method : arsenic.
Victims: 3 husbands whose wives purchased poison from Joye.
Venue: “a poisoning party.”
Perpetrators: 4 wives.
Method: “poison.”
Victims: 4 husbands.
Leaders: Rakitta Fira Bogyok from Kecsa & Softa Esutorina
Collaborator: Zsiva Traila (later: Minda)

Leader: Anna Nagy, AKA Kathi Lyukas (or "Kate Nagy"), murder two of her own husbands; Lyukas confessed to 6 other murders (20 other deaths suspected to be caused by her); Lyukas was hanged Nov. 30, 1882.
Method: arsenic baked into little cakes.
Victims: convicted of 26 murders.

Leaders: Thekla Popov, active more than two years (1880-1882), Anna Minity, Sophia Ivanovitch; over 100 women implicated; court cases continued into at least 1889.
Method: bottles of "red liquid poison" priced at 50-100 florins.
Victims: over 100
Leader: Persia ("Persa") Vaics ("Aunt Thyrin")
Method: hydrarchy corrosivum (corrosive sulfur)
Victims: 40?
Leader: Persa Czirin; considered the poison supplier; released for lack of evidence.
Method: poison.
Victims: Multiple husbands of women who acquired poison from Czirin.

Leader: Jlyushka
Leader: Baba Rendusch
Method: poison (unidentified as of yet).
Victims: 7 men lured into marriage to be murdered for their assets.

1889: MOLDOVA - Telenescha, Chisinau (Kischineff)
Leader: Barbara
Victims: 9 men; 2 of own husbands, 6 of own children
Leader: Marie Mravlak (Mrawlag).
Method: arsenic.
Victims: 3 husbands.

1889: SERBIA ("HUNGARY") – Mitrovitz (Sremska Mitrovica)
Leader: Eva Sarac (“witch or herbalist”); 10 women arrested.
Method: arsenic extracted from flypaper.
Victims: 60 estimated, over a period of 10 years.

1889: SERBIA ("Hungary") - Erdevik, District of Smyrna (Syrmia), Bingula & the Mitrovitz district (Austro-Hungarian Empire, Serbia)
Leader: Makrena Stankovic; deaths occurred in 1880, 1883, 1884, 1884, 1885, 1886 and 1888
Accomplice: Milika Plavsic, aided 2 husband-killers.
Method: Poisoned with arsenic derived from fly-paper cooked into christening cakes served on christening day to the father; elsewhere reported as poisonous spiders in dumplings.
Leaders: Frau Kernaez, Frau Kurjakow, Milicza Pivnicski (Rivnicski).
Method: arsenic.
Victims: 10.

1893: HUNGARY – Vezprimer Comitat, Ortschaft Szent-Gal (Szentgál), Szent-Hat, Hungary
Leader: Frau Kajdi.
Leaders: Nacza Milosev & husband.
Accomplices: 8 arrested.

1895: ROMANIA ("HUNGARY") – Pecica ("Peceska," "Pecs")
Leader: Maria Hevesy; was paid 100 florins for arranging murder.
Method: Ex-con hired to carry out murders.
Victims: multiple married men.
1895: HUNGARY – Hodmezo-Vasarhely, Hungary
Leader: Maria Szalay-Japes.
Method: Arsenic.
Victims: 6 (husbands).
1895: HUNGARY – Hodmozoe (Hod-Moyo-Vasarheky; Hódmezővásárhely)
Leader: Mari Azalai Jager.
Accomplices: "a band of poisoners" 3 men & 2 women (including Gulyas Kis-Samuel, male).
Method: Three poisons, belladonna, arsenic and chloride of mercury.
Jul. 24, 1897, Budapest: Trial of 12 women & 2 men; 4 sentenced to death; 1 to life in prison (man who killed his mother); 1 to 6 years in prison
Victims: estimated at over 100. 
Leader: A “Witch”
Perpetrators: 7
Deaths: 23
Leader: Maria Ulica.
Method: poison.
Victims: 16 husbands, 2 wives (following abortions).

1898: ROMANIA – Timișoara (Temesvar)
Leaders: Leader: Emilie Thiele, Maria Pisturin, Ida Gro.
Supplied by: Jovanka Papa (Marie Annassin-Pox (94), "Baba Jovanka"), Gross-Kikinda, Serbia.

Leader: Jovanka Papa; Marie Annassin-Pox (94), "Baba Jovanka."
Supplied poison to: Emilie Thiele, Maria Pisturin, Ida Gro, Timișoara (Temesvar) Romania.

1899: ROMANIA ("HUNGARY") – Jebel ("Zesbeley," “Szebely”, "Ssebely," "Szephely") (Banat Region) (Temesvár; Timişoara)
Leaders: George Korin, apothecary, ringleader, and Dr. Johann Mayer, village physician.
Perpetrators: Marie Nikodem (murdered 2 husbands); Lisa Petru-Triku (murdered 3 husbands?); Jerinia Zsimcsa (murdered 2 husbands).
Method: arsenic.
Victims: 14.

1900: HUNGARY Liget (“Zlifet") Baranya county.
Leader: unknown at present.
Method: arsenic taken from face rouge, placed in drink.
Victims: 6 husbands.
Leader: Nikola Bettuz; "Petar the Magician."
Method: poisoned brandy. (Bettuz refused to disclose its composition).
Victims: "18 men."; 40 widows arrested.
Method: boiled juice of dried dog milk plants and lander leaves 
Leader: Coroner Hanusch, formed a "club" of wives who wished their husbands dead. Imrene Balapa.
Method: poison supplied by the coroner, who would certify victim died of heart disease.
Victims: at least 6 husbands.

Leader: Rosalia Peter
Victims: 8 husbands

Leader: Widow Mirieki (Miriczky).
Method: arsenic.
Victims: husbands and wives, including a couple who each bought poison to murder one another.
Leader: Frau Miriczky (Mirieki)
Customers: Wives seeking to replace husbands, or to inherit from them.
Method: 9 different liquid poisons, arsenic.
Victims: 14 (plus many more).

1905: HUNGARY – Hodmezo-Vasarhely (Hod-Moyo-Vasarheky; Hódmezővásárhely)
Leader: Imrene Balapa (reputed witch).
Customers: Women who wished to kill husbands or infants.
Method: poison.
Victims: 6 men; 20 infants.

Leader: Frau Sivacky.
Customers: wives
Method: poison.
Victims: 9 husbands critically ill; other deaths; 12 women arrested.

Leader: Teresa Palko
Method: "fly powder"
Merthod: arsenic, sold for $4.50 per portion.
Victims: 25 bodies exhumed; Catherine Biber murdered 3; an unnamed widow murdered 4 husbands consecutively. 
Leader: Dámó Maximovics
Deaths: 54 defendants, but there were only 11 defendants at the main trial, and the others were dropped for lack of evidence. 

1908: SERBIA – Pančevo (Pancevo)
Leader: Padada Jovanovits
Victims: a husband named Nicolia (only name currently known).

Leader: Frau Szari
Method: poisonous black henbane seeds.
Victims: Mr. Szari, many others.

1909: UKRAINE ("RUSSIA") Samara
Leader: Katharina Popova (Popowa); claimed all victims were husbands who had abused their wives.
Method: poison in food or drink placed there directly by Madame Popova.
Victims: 50 ("300" in some sources), all husbands.

1911: HUNGARY – Szegedin (Szeged)
Leader: Maria Gerzan, professional nurse.
Accomplice: Levai, murdered husband.
Method: poison, claimed to be for killing vegetable parasites.
Victims: All victims were married men.

1912: ROMANIA ("HUNGARY") – Lipova, "Lippa," Arad county)
Leader: Johanna Kapruczan, murdered her first 4 husbands, 5th alive at time of arrest; 6 other women arrested.
Method: not yet ascertained.
Number of victims: 9 men (including leader’s 4 husbands).

1913: SERBIA - Durdevo (Sajkasgyorgye), Serbia
Leaders: Marie Racz, Milica Rudintzkt & Julie Rajko
Method: poison
Victims: unknown
Leaders: Mrs. Simon Ferenc & Mrs. István Polgár 
Deaths: 10

1921: USA - Cleveland, Ohio
Leader: Erminia (Big Emma) Covalito, "The Poison Queen"

Leader: Julie Remic
Method: Arsenic
Victims: Remic’s 2 husbands and son; about 30 other persons.

1926: SERBIA {"JUGOSLAVIA") – Nagy Kikinda (Kikinda) (DISCREDITED)
The “St. Lucretia Club,” a charitable organization was dedicated to sharing information about husband-murdering techniques.
Leader: Maria Vukosava Jovanovic (Maria Vukitch).
Method: poison.
Victims:7 husbands.

1927: RUSSIA – Novay Ladoga ("Navoia")
Leader: Sophie Safarin ("Safarine").
Method: poison.
Victims: 58 husbands (entire population of husbands).

1928: SERBIA ("JUGOSLAVIA") – Vladimirovac; Panchova, Banat ("Banyat") region
Leader: Anuja de Poshtonja (Anna Pistova), "The Witch of Vladimirovac", AKA: Anyuka Dee, the “Banat Witch,” Baba Anujka.
Method: "vegetable poisoning"; arsenic.
Perpatrators: includes Stana Ludushka (3 victims: 2 husbands; one uncle).
Victims: 13, all husbands (50 in one account); 50 year career probably involved scores more.
Leaders: Szuszanna Fazekas (Olah) (murdered 2 of her own husbands), Christine Chordas, (“Czordas”)
Method: arsenic extracted from fly-paper, rat poison containing arsenic, toadstools.
Victims: estimates vary from 30 to 100.
12 serial killers: Christine Chordas (3 murders), Julia Dari (3 murders), Julia Fazekas (scores of murders), Juliana Foeldvary (3 murders), Maria Kardos (3 murders), Julianne Lipka (scores of murders), Mrs. Louis Cser (3 murders), Esther Szabo (multiple murders, including 2 family members), Maria Varga (3 murders).
Leader: Viktoria Harna (suicide) 
Arrests: 12 women arrested, 1 committed suicide (Frau Hegedüs); Anny Papp (3 murders). 
Method: Poison.
Victims: 12+ husbands.
Leader: Viktoria Stanke; poisoned 3: husband, Julie Talinik, Mr. Talinik.
Arrested: Repisky (farmer), poisoned father in 1928; Victoria Szenesi, arrested.
Method: poison.
Victims: 6 known, others suspected to be discovered upon investigation.
Leader: Viktoria Foedi Rieger, nicknamed “Smoking Peter.” She was a cross-dresser who passed as a man; "The Devil Woman of Pista."
Method: hanging arranged to simulate suicide.
Victims: 22 suspected.

Leaders: Florica Duma & Ilona Kovacs.
Method: Arsenic extracted from fly-paper.
Victims: 6 persons, men and women.

(Serbian: Соиа Гјуркиц (Sojka Gjurkic)).
Method: Poison potions.
Victims: Multiple husbands. 
Leader: Unknown
Victims: husbands.

1935: HUNGARY – Debreczen
Leader: Julianne Nagy.
Method: arsenic extracted from boiled fly-paper.
Victims: at least 11.
Leaders: Elizabeth Bittenbinder & Mary Neukom
Method: arsenic
Victims: 5 "so far."

Leader: Mrs. Antal Mihály
1939: USA – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Active: 1932-1938; “Arsenic Incorporated.”
Sentencing: 2 executed; 12 life terms; 7 lesser sentences.
Leaders: Morris (Evil Eye) Bolber, Paul Petrillo, Herman Petrillo, Horace D. Perlman.
Operatives: Mrs. Rose Carina, Mrs. Carina Favato, Mrs. Josephine Sadita
Method: arsenic
Victims: over 100

Leaders: Stanka Penovic (Petcovic).
Method: poison.
Perpetrators: 16 tried.
Victims: mostly men (husbands, fathers, nephew).

1941: SPAIN - Parma, Majorca
Leader: Magdalena Castell Pons
Accomplice: Antonia Font
1947: HUNGARY – Szoreg, Hungary
1995: USA – San Francisco & New York City
Identification: The Tene-Bimbo Gypsy Clan
Leader: Mary Tene Steiner.
Others: Sylvia Mitchell (New York City), Angela Tene Bufford (San Francisco).
Victims: 9 elderly men.
Method: digitalis poisoning (causing heart attack).

2011: COLOMBIA Medellin
“The Black Widow Gang.”
Leader: José Adrián Henao Giraldo.
Members: Luz Elena Carvajal Cataño, Suleyma Giraldo de Zapata, Emilse Yulima Emilsen Rojas Castaño, Oliveryen Hincapie López.
Method: includes drowning.
Victims: 3 confirmed, 5 under investigation.



Murderers: Rose Veres (from Sarud, Hungary), "THe Witch of Medina Street," and son, William.
Related case: In Detroit Michigan in a neighborhood populated by immigrants from Sarud, Hungary, a woman conducted, along with her son, an insurance murder racket with boarders as her victims. Though she was later released from prison on appeal, there is little doubt she was guilty of the crimes she was originally convicted of.


A note on names: It should be note that names of persons and places from there regions are spelled in numerous different ways since a great many ethnicities resided these and used a great variety of languages. For example, Serbian was spoken in Serbia, but German was the official language of the ruling empire while the following other languages being spoken there include Albanian, Hungarian, Romanian, Slovak, Rusyn, Croatian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Romani, Czech, Bosnian, Vlach, Bunjevac, Macedonian, Montenegrin.

Further, English language transliterations of these names use many different spellings for the same name and vary in their choice of which original language form as the basis for their transliteration. In short, working with English language sources is extremely messy and confusing work.





Important article on Hungarian poison syndicates:

Jánoki Dávid, “Arsenic norms, collective secret, and double roles during the interrogations” (A történelem kérdései; Az írás, amint érvényét veszti, a Recenziók menüpontban található linken elérhető lesz.), Amazing History (website) 2012. November 23., Vác, Hungary


Explanations for the Hungarian murder syndicates that are commonly found are based on theories that are now being demonstrated to be faulty. Thus we must resist interpreting the phenomenon of the various Eastern European murder syndicates – with all their individual differences and complexities – through the simpleminded theories and claims that have been put forth in the standard literature thus far. 

An effort is now being made to take an objective look at the family in Eastern Europe without being hampered by the constraints of old-fashioned “patriarchy” theories and “social constructionist” reductionism, as is indicated by a recent call for papers by The Hungarian Historical Review. Here is an excerpt from that call for papers: 

“Historians who studied personal narrative sources that had survived in large numbers (such as correspondences, diaries, and memoirs) fervently disputed the Ariés-Hajnal-Stone thesis, according to which given the extended nature of the family, the role of emotional bonds in family life was negligible in Eastern Europe. The opponents of the thesis argue, however, that behind the image of patriarchal family life that emerges from the wealth of literature on matrimonial and marital counseling, one finds innumerable everyday gestures expressive of loving, amicable, and supportive relationships between spouses.” 

[Sándor Horváth, Call for journal articles – “The History of Family, Marriage and Divorce in Eastern Europe,” The Hungarian Historical Review, 2013]


Some motives for murder among the Eastern European murder syndicates::

1886 – Persa Czirin (professional poisoner) – [A] wholesale epidemic of poisoning had broken out among the women of the place who administered arsenic to their husbands whenever they wanted to marry somebody else. The first of the trials came on at Panosova recently, and ended with the conviction of a young pleasant woman, Draga Radovancey, who was sentenced to be hanged. An old peasant woman, Persa Czirin, who supplied the poison, was released for want of sufficient evidence. [“Wholesale Poisoning of Husbands.” The Southland Times (Invercarghill, Southland, N. Z.), Jun. 14, 1886, p. 4]

1889 – Thekla Popov (professional poisoner) – [Serial poisoner] Thekla Popov’s clients were, however, not always married women. Sometimes she had dealing with young girls who quarrelled with their sweethearts, and who, from jealousy or rage, had determined to kill them. [“Secret Poisoning. - Awful Crimes Of Borgias Recalled By Hungary’s Horror.  Murderous Nostrums Of Old. - Terrible Women Who Divorced Themselves By Deadly Potions. - The Evil Worked By Fortune Tellers.” Pittsburgh Post (Pa.), Dec. 14, 1889. p. 12]

1889 – Draga Kukin – Amongst other things he overheard was Kukin’s widow [Draga Kukin] saying to her accomplice, “Well, I am young and pretty. He was old and ugly. Why should he not die?” [“Secret Poisoning. - Awful Crimes Of Borgias Recalled By Hungary’s Horror.  Murderous Nostrums Of Old. - Terrible Women Who Divorced Themselves By Deadly Potions. - The Evil Worked By Fortune Tellers.” Pittsburgh Post (Pa.), Dec. 14, 1889. p. 12]

1897 –  Marie Jager (Azalai Jager Mari) (professional poisoner)  – It has transpired that the woman was much sought after, because when children were unwelcome they lived but a little while when Azalai Jager Mari was called in attendance. How many infants she destroyed it is impossible to guess. [“A Woman Who Has Poisoned More Than 100 People,” The World (New York, N.Y.), Jul. 11, 1897, p. 29]

1900 – Nikola Bettuz (professional poisoner)  – In some instances it was found that the object of the women was to obtain the insurance on the lives of their husbands. [“Slay Their Husbands - In Hungary Wives Tired of  Their Spouses Kill Them by Using a Mysterious Poison.” (Buda-Pesth Cor. Chicago Chronicle.) Fort Wayne Sentinel (In.), Oct. 20, 1900, p. 1]

1901 – Kissoda, Romania[Note: not just husbands, but “lovers” as well] Instances in which wives rid themselves of inconvenient husbands and girls did away with lovers whom they no longer wanted increased there appallingly.  [“Epidemic Of Poisoning In Hungary. - Eighteen Men Killed.” The Capricornian (Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia), Jan. 12, 1901, p. 38]

1907 – Julia Wunicsitch – Julia Wuicsitch poisoned her husband because he could not buy her a new dress. [“Town Poisoned - And Wiped Out of Existence by Modern Lucretia Borgia. - Fair Young Fiend - Poisoned Her Rich Old Husband So She Could Marry a Young Lawyer, Whom She Also Poisoned. - Then With Another Woman She Went Into the Wholesale Poisoning Business.” The Manning Times (S. C.), Mar. 20, 1907, p. 6]

1907 – Marthas Petromany (professional poisoner)  – She married a wealthy farmer some five years ago solely on account of his possessions. A young man of talents and good prospects who was the leading local lawyer became her ardent admirer. Mme. Petrubany’s highest desire was to see her old husband out of the way to marry the lawyer and combine his superior social station and the old man’s property. [“Town Poisoned - And Wiped Out of Existence by Modern Lucretia Borgia. - Fair Young Fiend - Poisoned Her Rich Old Husband So She Could Marry a Young Lawyer, Whom She Also Poisoned. Then With Another Woman She Went Into the Wholesale Poisoning Business.” The Manning Times (S. C.), Mar. 20, 1907, p. 6]
1928 – Anujka de Poshtonja (Anna Pistova, Baba Anujka) – Vladimirovac, Yugoslavia (Serbia) – A murder trial has begun at Panchova, Jugo-Slavia, where 93-year-old Anyuka, Dee is charged with having murdered more than fifty men. She is known throughout the district as the “Banat Witch.” Legends throw a veil of mystery around her lonely life, and as the wives of wealthy farmers liked to go to her for help in cases of illness and also to consult her on other difficulties, she drew a large income, which enabled her to lead a life of comfort. Recently it was said that Anyuka Dee, in addition to saving lives with herbs, also destroyed them with arsenic if she were paid to do so. [“A Jugo-Slavian ‘Witch’ - Faces Murder Trial,” The Advertiser (Adelaide, Australia), Aug. 12, 1929, p. 17]

1929 – Szuszanna Fazekas (Olah) (professional poisoner)  – Not wishing to risk another trial [for performing abortions], Aunt Suzie apparently decided to supplement her earnings in a new fashion. She began a series of child poisonings. There would be a discreet dosing, a little funeral, a tiny grave – and a mouth less to feed. Aunt Suzie worked exclusively with arsenic extracted from flypaper. It seemed effective. She decided to enlarge her sphere. She found wives who had grown tired of their husbands, children who coveted the property of their elders, mothers with ailing sons. Aunt Suzie would whisper that she knew a way. [John MacCormac, “Murder By Wholesale: A Tale From Hungary,” New York Times (N.Y.), Mar 16, 1930, p. XX3]

1929 – Maria Kardos – After marrying and divorcing two husbands she found herself at the age of forty with a 23-year-old son, whose health had made him a burden. Moreover, she had fast taken a young lover and did not wish to have this constant reminder of her own age. She consulted Aunt Suzie. The first dose of arsenic only made the boy ill. One fine Autumn day she had his bed moved outside in the courtyard. “I gave him some more poison in his medicine,” she told the police. “And then, suddenly, I remembered how beautifully my boy used to sing in church and I thought I would like to hear him once more. So I said: ‘Sing, my boy. Sing me my favorite song.’ He sang it in his lovely, clear voice.” The song ended in agony. The poison had done its work. [John MacCormac, “Murder By Wholesale: A Tale From Hungary,” New York Times (N.Y.), Mar 16, 1930, p. XX3]

1935 – Julianna Nagy (professional poisoner)  – They all got their wish, dying from her food. The old maid induced the old man to marry her by the simple process of threatening to resign as cook. But there were five children to inherit which would not leave much for the widow in case something should happen to Nagy. Therefore Julianna bought more fly-paper with which she made little angels, one after the other of all the five children.









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