The Vampire Duchess Who Terrorized A Castle
She found the fountain of youth but is most famous for being the most prolific female serial killer ever.
In 1560, Elizabeth Báthory was born into a royal family. Her family controlled Transylvania. Stephen Báthory, her uncle, was king of Poland. The young woman wanted for nothing.
When Elizabeth was 14, her family began to look for a young lady's strategic marriage companion. They found the perfect partner in Count Ferencz Nádasdy, his family’s wealth matched the Báthorys, and they held power in strategically important territories.
Ferencz was taken with his bride-to-be. However, Elizabeth detested being told who she was to marry. During the courting process, she had taken up with a lower-order man. He got her pregnant during one of their rendevous.
Within the Báthory family, it caused a mini-scandal. They worried about the marriage being called off. Ferencz did not wish to call off the wedding. Once the child was born, the family hid it from the public’s view.
Elizabeth and Ferencz married in 1575. Shortly after the wedding, the groom had his wife’s lover castrated. Not satisfied with that, he had him killed and fed to the dogs.
The incident caused the couple to quarrel. To satisfy his wife’s meaner tendencies, Ferencz built a torture chamber in the castle they lived in. He hoped it would make things right between them.
However, the marriage between the young, noble couple was strained. They rarely spent time together. Ferencz would travel for business. While he was away, his wife would carry on affairs. It strained the relationship even further.
As the couple battled in private over their various indiscretions, Ferencz became ill. The young man died in 1604, leaving Elizabeth a widow.
And even crueler.
While Ferencz was dying, rumors of missing peasants began to circulate. Many trained their eyes on the count and countess as the culprits. It seemed unlikely since the former was critically ill. In 1603, he became permanently disabled.
After the death of her husband, Elizabeth asked for more help. Young girls lined up in the hopes of landing a job in the castle. It promised enough money to help feed their families.
One by one, servant girls disappeared. Their bodies turned up mutilated; it was obvious that someone had tortured them.
Some of the victims were found covered in honey and ants. Others were choked to death. Another had cut marks all on her body.
Each of the victims’ blood had been drained.
Elizabeth bathed in the blood; she also used it to keep her skin looking young and fresh. She drank it to refresh her soul, and it kept her alive. People of the city urged those with authority to look into her crimes.
But no one in power believed that was the case. In their minds, a woman was not capable of such horrendous crimes.
Investigating The Countess
For six years, the disappearances of the young women were written off. Authorities believed there was nothing odd happening. They even tried to defend Elizabeth by saying the circulated stories were inaccurate and an attempt to smear the widow.
It wasn’t until a noble girl was killed, in 1610, that the authorities decided to investigate what was happening. Elizabeth staged the murder scene to look like the lady committed suicide.
King Matthias was under enormous pressure to find out who killed the young woman. He ordered count György Thurzo, Elizabeth’s cousin, to investigate the murders. No matter what was found, the king wanted to know.
György asked for some guards to help him. They raided the castle one night and were shocked by what they found. After checking the dungeon, they found the corpses of at least two dozen of the missing girls.
Servants talked willingly about Elizabeth. Three admitted to burying more bodies in the church’s graveyard when they knew nobody would be watching.
Each servant talked of Elizabeth’s cruelty. Before she killed one girl, the countess sewed her genitals shut. She bit another of her victims in the face. There was no rhyme or reason for her actions, other than her trying to maintain a youthful appearance.
Each witness created more questions than they gave answers to. Until they talked with Elizabeth’s beloved uncle, he testified that when she was a little girl, he taught her the ways of Satanism. In his estimation, everything she did was a sacrifice to the devil.
As the investigators digested that information, they were given more shocking information. Three more servants admitted to killing girls when the countess was too sick to do it herself. Guards arrested them on the spot.
Elizabeth was placed under arrest herself.
No Sunlight For The Vampiress
During the course of the investigation, more than 300 witnesses came forward. Each told tales of Elizabeth’s cruelty; none of them had kind words for the woman. More than her being unliked, she was unlikable.
The three servants who murdered their boss were put on trial. Each one was convicted. King Matthias ordered them to be executed for their crimes. He wanted to send a message that immoral behavior would not be tolerated.
The public waited for Elizabeth to be tried.
A trial for the countess would not come. While King Matthias was determined to bring everyone involved in the murders to justice, György convinced him that no good could come from putting Elizabeth on trial. Since she came from a prominent and noble family, it would cause a scandal. It would make things harder for the family as they tried to rule their country.
Reluctantly, the king agreed with that assessment. However, he kept her imprisoned in a castle to avoid any more murders. She stayed in the castle until she died in 1614.
The legend of Elizabeth Báthory grew over the years. It is now believed she was the most prolific female serial killer ever. There has never been an accurate count, but many people believe her victim count is over 600.
Further cementing Elizabeth’s status is that Bram Stoker used her story as an inspiration for Dracula.
It is argued that Elizabeth Báthory was the world’s first vampire.