It always surprises me when Aileen Wuornos is referred to as the “first female serial killer.” There were plenty of female serial killers long before Wuornos came along. One of the main differences between serial female murderers and their male counterparts is that few of them kill strangers, as Wuornos did.
Female serial killers tend to target those closest to them: family members, spouses, suitors, children, and patients, which, if you think about it, is even more chilling.
Vera Renczi was one such killer. Born in Romania during the early 1900s, Renczi was what some would call “boy crazy” from a very young age. When she was still in her early teens, she began to run away with numerous lovers, most of whom were many years older.
Her first marriage was to a wealthy Austrian banker named Karl Schick. Renczi soon bore him a son, whom they named Lorenzo. The marriage seemed relatively happy, except for the long hours Schick worked. Renczi grew more and more suspicious that her husband was having an affair, and her assumptions seemed to have the ring of her truth when Schick suddenly abandoned her and Lorenzo. After a year of mourning, Renczi told friends and family that she’d received word that her husband had died in a car accident.
Renczi soon remarried, but this union did not end happily, either. Only months after the marriage, her new husband vanished. Within a year, the grieving woman claimed to have gotten a letter from her wayward spouse which declared his intentions to leave her forever.
She was through with marriage, but not with men. All of her lovers would vanish within months, weeks, and sometimes even days after beginning a relationship with her. Whenever she was questioned in one of her lover’s disappearances, she would claim that the man was unfaithful and had abandoned her.
Who knows how many men might have disappeared if it weren’t for another jealous woman. One wife suspected her husband was cheating, and followed him to Renczi’s home. When her husband never returned, she contacted the police.
The police searched Renczi’s home and found 32 zinc-lined coffins in her basement. Each was the final resting place of one of her lovers, who had been treated to a tasty glass of arsenic-laced wine as soon as Renczi suspected his interest in her was waning. Even her own son had taken his place in her macabre makeshift morgue. Renczi claimed he’d discovered the coffins and had threatened to blackmail her.
Over time, Renczi’s crimes began to seem so unbelievable that today her very existence is debated. Perhaps that is the most terrible of fates for a woman who wanted nothing more than love and attention.
Why do you think female serial killers tend to target those closest to them, while men go after strangers? What’s the spookiest true story you’ve ever heard? Had you heard of Renczi or her crimes?
PS: If you liked this post, you’ll probably enjoy the creepy true story of serial killer John List.