Author Topic: The True Stories of History´s Deadliest Women  (Read 63 times)

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raul

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The True Stories of History´s Deadliest Women
« on: November 27, 2022, 05:43:08 am »
LEONARDA CIANCIULLI
(1894–1970)
CANNIBALISM

Being a mom is hard. Or, being a “good mother” is hard, especially as what that constitutes is different for all of us. Maybe you feel like you must only feed your children organic food. Or that you shouldn’t allow them too much access to screens. Or, if you are Leonarda Cianciulli, that you should commit acts of human sacrifice to protect them.
See? Different for everyone.

In Leonarda’s youth, a psychic prophesied that her life would be filled with unhappiness and that “you will marry and have children, but your children will die.” She also claimed that “one hand tells me you will end up in prison. The other a criminal asylum . . . it will be one or the other.” That psychic was correct. Over the course of her marriage, Leonarda had three miscarriages and gave birth to fourteen children, but ten of them died before reaching adulthood.

At the dawn of World War II, her eldest son, Giuseppe, joined the Italian army. Leonarda couldn’t bear the thought of losing another child. Like many mothers during wartime, she was desperate for some way to protect him. Unlike many mothers, she turned to what the Baltimore Sun claimed was a “ceremony reminiscent of the witches of the dark ages.”

She believed that in order to spare her son, she could sacrifice another life. Perhaps to be on the safe side, however, she sacrificed three lives. This strikes me as somewhat overenthusiastic, but then, I have never participated in any human sacrifice ceremonies.

Leonarda’s three victims—Faustina Setti, Francesca Soavi, and Virginia Cacioppo—were all struggling, emotionally or financially, and searching for new opportunities. Faustina was a lonely spinster. Francesca wanted a job. Virginia, a former opera singer, wished to return to the world of music. Leonarda summoned each separately to her house. She claimed to have found a husband for Faustina, a position teaching at a girls’ school for Francesca, and work as a secretary for an impresario for Virginia. All of these opportunities just happened to be in another town, where the women were told they would have to move. She encouraged them to write postcards to their friends telling them that they were leaving. Then she offered them a drugged drink to toast their good fortune, picked up an ax, and murdered them. In at least the first case, she nearly beheaded the woman in one swoop.

It’s nice to think that these women were at least happy and hopeful in their final moments, because what came after was truly gruesome.

Leonarda cut their decapitated bodies into pieces and put those parts into a pot in which soda was boiling. She found that the process produced a waxy substance that she quickly realized could be turned into candles. Upon inserting a wick, she remarked, “Greatness of God, what a superb flame!”

As for the blood? She began using it as a baking ingredient in cookies. She proudly recounted her recipe, claiming, “I used to mix human blood with chocolate and add an exquisite flavor made of tangerine, aniseed vanilla and cinnamon. Sometimes I added a sprinkling of powder made from human bones.” Leonarda revealed that she gave them to her neighbors, but that she and her family also enjoyed the treats.

The third of her victims, Virginia Cacioppo, met an even more horrifying fate. Leonarda recalled, “Her flesh was fat and white; when it had melted I added a bottle of cologne, and after a long time on the boil I was able to make some most acceptable creamy soap. I gave bars to neighbors and acquaintances. The cakes, too, were better: that woman was really sweet.”

This is not the way anyone wishes to be complimented.

It was Virginia’s sister who eventually urged the police to investigate Leonarda. When they did, she confessed to the crimes almost immediately, perhaps hoping that she could show a good reason for her human sacrifices. Predictably, they were less than understanding. Like everyone, they were bewildered that a popular, middle-aged lady of the town would commit such crimes. Why, they wondered, did Leonarda think these murders would protect her son?

Because, and I can’t stress this enough, she was insane, likely deranged from grief during a time when heartbroken mothers were offered little if any psychological help.
Giuseppe did survive the war, but then he had to appear at his mother’s murder trial in 1946. She appeared unbothered by her crimes, to which she quite calmly confessed.
Leonarda was sentenced to thirty years in prison and three in a criminal asylum, just as the psychic she had met in her youth had predicted. God willing, there, she did not do any of the cooking.

Taken from author Jennifer Wright.

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