The Bloody Mary cocktail, the story of Snow White and the movie Monster. Put all of these together and what you get is a blend of party favourites and celebrated forms of entertainment that tell of blood and gore behind their names and origins. When it comes to murder, cunning, malice and unforgivable (but undoubtedly creative) forms of torture, women share the podium with some of history’s most prominent killers.
One of the most interesting and possibly horrific stories of a murderous female is that of Elizabeth Bathory, also known as “The Bloody Queen of Slovakia”, who lived in the 17th century. She is notorious for committing approximately 650 murders but was officially prosecuted for only 80. Many people described her as insane, weird and cruel, but this is said to be because she was the result of inbreeding in the Bathory family. It is said that as aristocratic life was overly boring forElizabeth, she found herself a female lover despite her marriage and, encouraged by her maids, started torturing servants for entertainment by dousing them with water then letting them freeze to death outside in the snow. When she became a widow shortly after turning 40, she started bathing in and drinking the blood of virgins because she believed that by doing this she would retain her youth. Girls from surrounding villages were summoned to her castle, kidnapped, hung upside down in spiked cages, and then drained of their blood. Hundreds of virgins were allegedly killed for their blood duringElizabeth’s five-year reign but she was never satisfied with her complexion. Talk about insatiable.
Daisy de Melker is known asSouth Africa’s first serial killer and the second woman to have been executed in this country. She was responsible for three murders. She committed the first in 1923 – the victim: her first husband. Her second husband soon followed. She then went on to murder her son. She was only prosecuted for her son’s murder. De Melker, who was a classic black widow, used the old-school murder method of using highly untraceable poison to get rid of her victims. Although she was a trained nurse, she was very proficient with things that are not supposed to be found in the medicine cabinet. She got rid of her two husbands by giving them each a generous dose of strychnine. This is a highly toxic substance used as a pesticide for rodents and birds. She killed her only surviving son, Rhodes, who was 20 years old, with a large dose of arsenic (a tasteless and odourless toxic substance previously known as “inheritance powder” because impatient heirs were infamous for using it to get their inheritance money).
Another blonde-gone-ballistic is world-famous serial killer Aileen Wournos. She is notorious for killing seven truck drivers between November 1989 and November 1990 while she was working as a prostitute. She was found guilty of six murders and received the death sentence. She died by lethal injection in 2002. Wournos, author of Monster, which was turned into an Oscar-winning movie, had a past riddled with sexual and physical abuse, as well as endless stints in prison while house-hopping between foster families. The series of murders she committed is said to be a reflection of her violent past. She claimed that the truck drivers she killed were asking for it by attempting to rape her.
Filicide is apparently another popular means of murder for the more insane and murderous woman. Filicide is the act of murdering one’s children. Andrea Yates is infamous for drowning her five young children in her bath tub in 2001, a heinous act she had been planning for two years which Yates attributed to her religious fanaticism when she told her jail psychiatrist that it was the seventh Deadly Sin. “My children weren’t righteous. The way I was raising them, they could never be saved. They were doomed to perish in the fires of hell,” Yates said. One just has to wonder what level of crazy one has to be on to actually do such a thing without even flinching. Andrea had been suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis, which gave way to her slaying frenzy.
This, by all means, is not a guideline to teach people how to get away with murder. It does, however, prove that crazy comes in all forms, sexes and pill sizes. Horrors like these were a reality to somebody and why anybody would want to name a tasty cocktail or Disney animation after these tales, nobody knows. This could also come across as a friendly and subtle warning to actually take hormones seriously because you never know what monster you might be unleashing if a glass of wine is not offered while a lady is going through PMS.
Photo: Bonita Lubbe