They were bold and they were bloody. Historians and criminal specialists have had a rough time sorting out the motivations behind these women’s urge to take lives, while public eye has turned them into legends, vastly attributing their killing sprees a witchcraft, romanced element.
Here are history’s bloodiest female serial killers.
1. Elisabeth Bathory
She was nicknamed The Blood Countess, The Bloody Lady of ?achtice. Countess Báthory Erzsébet (7 August 1560 – 21 August 1614) came from the renowned Báthory family of nobility in the Kingdom of Hungary and is, up to date, the most prolific female murderer in history, according to Guiness World Records. She was convicted for having sacrificed, tortured and murdered an average of 600 women, mostly young servants and maids, while historians claim her crimes outreached that number.
Rumor has it – she would bathe in young virgins’ blood, after having them stripped off their skin, used burning iron to chastise them, poison them, chain them until they would start bleeding or bury them alive. Although the bathing rumor may not be exactly accurate (blood coagulation makes that impossible), on December 29, 1610, a garrison of soldiers broke in the Hungarian castle of Cachtice and ultimately imprisoned Elisabeth in the citadel for the rest of her days, blocking her access to the world in the purgatory of her own crimes.
2. Darya Nikolayevna Saltykova
This noblewoman has a crime and torture record of more than 100 victims, mostly young women and children. Her trial only began as late as relatives of the murdered began an official petition before Catherine the Great. She was sentenced to chaining to a public platform where she wore a sign stating “This woman tortured and murdered”, and was later imprisoned in the dungeon of a convent for the rest of her remaining days.
3. Nannie Doss
This black widow had killed her five husbands before being imprisoned and charged with a slew of murders that also included her mother-in-law, her sisters, two of their children, and her own mother. Although she was never sentenced to death, because she was a woman, she served until she died at age 59 in 1965.
4. Kristen Gilbert
Gilbert was labeled The Angel of Death. Her file includes three first-degree murders, a second-degree murder and two additional attempted murders. She was a nurse and chose victims amongst her patients, whom she silently injected them with epinephrine. Gilbert is still serving a life sentence.
5. Myra Hindley
The Most Evil Woman in the History of Britain, Myra Hindley carried out the rape and deaths of five small children together with her boyfriend, Ian Brady, during the 1960s. The couple were arrested by the time Hindley’s brother-in-law confessed to the police after witnessing Brady murdering a young boy with an axe. Myra Hindley spent the rest of her life in jail and died in 2002, aged 60.
6. Vera Renczi
Historians and criminalists were unable to sort out precisely the life path of Romanian born and Yugoslavian raised Vera Renczi, thus most of her past goes into legend. She has however earned her title as biggest manslaughter criminal in 1930s Romania, with an account of 35 murders, including spouses, lovers and her own son. Raised in a boarding school and deprived from maternal affection, this Black Widow is said to have suffered from schizophrenia and extreme jealously, translated into her many crimes against male figures throughout her life. In 2005, The Discovery Channel‘s three-part series Deadly Women dedicated their first episode to her, portraying Vera’s behavior as pathological. The documentary romances her motivation as the voice-over claims that “modern analysis suggest she was simply looking for love”.
Image Sources: Mirror.co.uk, crimetime.ro, montevalle.edu, findagrave.com, nekropolis.com, evilladies.com