Vera Renczi


Vera Renczi

Vera Renczi (1903 – unknown) was a Romanian serial killer who poisoned thirty-five individuals including her husbands, lovers and one son with arsenic during the 1920s and 1930s.[1]

Contents

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Early life

Born into a wealthy family whose roots were traced to minor Hungarian nobility in Bucharest, Romania, the family relocated to the town of Berkerekul when Renczi was ten. By the age of fifteen, she had become increasingly unmanageable by her parents and had frequently run away from home with numerous boyfriends, many of whom were significantly older than herself.[2] Early childhood friends described Renczi as having an almost pathological desire for constant male companionship and possessing a highly jealous and suspicious nature.[3]

Renczi’s first marriage was to a wealthy Bucharest businessman many years her senior and she bore him a son named Lorenzo.[4] Left at home daily while her older husband worked, she began to suspect that her husband was being unfaithful. One evening, in a jealous rage, Renczi tinctured the man’s dinner wine with arsenic[5] and began to tell family, friends and neighbors that he had abandoned her and their son. After approximately a year of “mourning”, she then declared that she had heard word of her supposedly estranged husband’s death in an automobile accident.[6]

Subsequent murders

Shortly after hearing the news of her first husband’s “automobile accident” Renczi again remarried; this time to a man nearer her own age. However, the relationship was a tumultuous one and Renczi was again plagued by the suspicion that her new husband was involved in extramarital affairs. After only months of marriage the man vanished and Renczi then told friends and family that the man had abandoned her.[7] After a year had passed, she then claimed to have received a letter from her husband proclaiming his intentions of leaving her forever.[8] This would be her last marriage.

Although Renczi would not remarry, she would spend the next several years carrying out a number of affairs; some clandestined, with married men and others openly. The men came from an array of backgrounds and social positions. All would vanish within months, weeks, and in some cases, even days after becoming romantically involved with her. When connected to men she was openly having an affair with, she would invariably concoct stories of them being “unfaithful” and having “abandoned her”.[9]

After the wife of one of Renczi’s lovers followed him to Renczi’s residence one evening and the man subsequently never returned home, the police were called to investigate his disappearance. Upon searching Renczi’s wine cellar, they discovered thirty-two unburied zinc-lined coffins. Each contained a male corpse in varying stages of decomposition.[10] Renczi was arrested and taken into police custody where she confessed to having poisoned the thirty-two men with arsenic when she suspected they had been unfaithful to her or when she believed their interest in her was waning. She also confessed to the police that on occasion she liked to sit in her armchair amidst the coffins, surrounded by all of her former suitors.[11]

Renczi also confessed to murdering her two husbands and her son Lorenzo. She told police that one day when her son had come to pay her a visit, he had accidentally discovered the coffins in her wine cellar and threatened to blackmail her and she subsequently poisoned him and disposed of his body.[12]

She was convicted of thirty-five murders and sentenced to life-imprisonment, where she subsequently died. It is said that her story may have inspired Joseph Kesselring’s play Arsenic and Old Lace.[13]

In 2005, The Discovery Channel’s three-part series Deadly Women recounted the history of Renczi, portrayed through re-enactments and commentaries from FBI agents and profilers and a forensic pathologist. Renczi was featured in the series’ first episode entitled Obsession.[14]

References

  1. ^ BBC.co.UK: Infamous Historical Poisoners
  2. ^ Newton, Michael. The Encylclopedia of Serial Killers. page 198. Checkmark Books. 2000. ISBN 0-816-03979-8
  3. ^ CrimeLibray.com
  4. ^ CrimeLibray.com
  5. ^ CrimeLibray.com
  6. ^ Newton, Michael. The Encylclopedia of Serial Killers. page 198. Checkmark Books. 2000. ISBN 0-816-03979-8
  7. ^ CrimeLibray.com
  8. ^ Newton, Michael. The Encylclopedia of Serial Killers. page 198. Checkmark Books. 2000. ISBN 0-816-03979-8
  9. ^ BBC.co.UK
  10. ^ BBC.co.UK
  11. ^ Newton, Michael. The Encylclopedia of Serial Killers. page 198. Checkmark Books. 2000. ISBN 0-816-03979-8
  12. ^ Newton, Michael. The Encylclopedia of Serial Killers. page 198. Checkmark Books. 2000. ISBN 0-816-03979-8
  13. ^ BBC.co.UK
  14. ^ The Discovery Channel. Deadly Women.

Further reading

  • Jones, Richard Glyn. The Mammoth Book of Women Who Kill. Transition Vendor. 2002. ISBN 0-786-70953-7

External links

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