The deadly angel makers of Nagyrév who massacred their husbands and poisoned 300 others
Nagrave was a farming village about 60 miles southeast of Budapest, Hungary. The nearest town was Tissakurt, on the banks of the Tisaltivar River. Like many other villages dotting the Danubian Plain, Nagrave was a small and unremarkable village. There was a pub, a large, deserted church, and a few muddy streets lined with one-story cottages.
Madame Julius Fazekas was boiling arsenic fly-paper in water on the stove. She was stirring it on the stove while the pot of water was boiling. Fazekas pulled the thread shawl from her shoulders. Very cold and late at night. But she was the only midwife and healer in the village. So people used to wake her up at night for help.
Behind her, Mrs. Takakas sat hunched over on a stool, the woman clasping her hands around her and swaying slowly as if she were silently asserting something. Her husband became drunk again and abused her in their house under the influence of alcohol. She rushes to Fazekas’ house just as he prepares to attack her.
The water in the pot boiled. Fasekas removed the pan from the oven. The top of the water was drained away. Then she turned and placed a small bottle of liquid on the kitchen table. The candlelight flickered on Mrs. Takakas’ dark face. She stared unblinkingly at the corked bottle in front of her.
Fasekas turned to focus on the stove again. A moment later, a murmur of fabric and a light breeze fluttered in the air. When Fasekas turned around, Mrs. Takakas and the bottle had disappeared from the house.
Fly-paper: A poisoned paper used in ancient times to catch flies and other insects. Arsenic was used for poisoning. In many countries, it was marketed only in a controlled manner. Today, instead of this, glued papers are used. No poison is used in it. If fly-paper is boiled in water, its arsenic will mix with the water and if that liquid reaches the human body, it will cause severe pain and death.
Two days later, a funeral was held at Mrs. Takakas’ home. Mr Takakas was said to have died of a heart attack.
Fasekas watched the funeral procession from the veranda of her house. As the funeral procession passed through the village, a low-pitched stream of curses rose from a dilapidated-looking house in the street. Soon it turned into muffled screams and sobs. It was so common in that village that everyone ignored it.
Fasekas went back to her house and put a pot of water on the stove to boil. Rumors would spread, she knew. Soon, another distraught woman knocks on her door. It was the quiet beginning of hundreds of murders that would tear the village apart for the next 15 years.
Madame Susanna Fazekas was Nagrave’s first Arupi designer. Later this group of people was called Angel Maker Syndicate or Widow Maker Syndicate.
Susanna Fazekas arrived in the village of Nagrave in 1911. She was a middle-aged midwife with an obscure background. No one knew where she came from. She was married but her husband disappeared under mysterious circumstances. She arrived in the country with many letters of credit from doctors praising her nursing skills. There was no resident doctor or hospital in Nagrave.
Essentially of the medical/mid-wifery/chemist variety, Fasekas became the only source of medical care in the village. Fasekas undertook the task of caring for the sick and destitute in this remote area. Women came to Fazekas first with health problems and then with domestic problems. As time went on, they were moved to rely on her advice.
Fazekas had only been in the village for three years, but during that time she had developed a reputation for performing abortions.
Marriage laws were strong in Hungarian society in the early 1900s. Parents chose husbands for their teenage daughters. Sometimes, the men were much older than the women. Women could not object even if the man was a drunkard or misbehaved with her. Divorce was forbidden. In many of these marriages there was little harmony between husband and wife.
Extreme poverty and hardship during World War I further eroded the emotional attachment couples may have had to each other in these relationships.
Life was hard in Nagrev, a poor village. Poverty was so extreme that newborns were seen as a burden. Families could not afford to feed one more person.
Life became more difficult as World War I raged. Able men were sent to fight on the front lines for Austria-Hungary. Only the women were left to work in the fields.
Being a remote location, Nagrave became a camp for Allied prisoners of war. Russian prisoners of war were sent to work on farms. In the absence of local men, the women of the village began to have romantic relationships with these young men. Women accepted three to four lovers at a time.
Some of these misguided relationships resulted in unwanted pregnancies. The women turned to Phasikas for help. Soon, a line began to grow at Fazekas’ door for clandestine abortions. Fazekas was arrested at least 10 times from 1911 to 1921 for illegal abortions. But each time sympathetic judges acquitted her and set her free. The authorities turned a blind eye because she was the only medical aid in the village.
When the war-weary men returned to Nagrave, it was not a happy one for the husband and wife. People returned to the village wounded and maimed. Women, on the other hand, had learned how to live without husbands. Their romances with POWs reminded them that they were women with lives of their own. They don’t need to spend the rest of their lives with alcoholic, violent, disabled husbands. They resented the loss of freedom and sexual freedom. One by one they went to Fazekasik to vent their displeasure to their husbands.
“Why tolerate them?” Fasekas said listening to the women.
“I have a solution.”
The solution was arsenic boiled from flypaper soaked in water.
Fazekas gave his first bottle of arsenic to a village woman named Mrs. Takakas. Mrs. Takakas had to get rid of her cruel, alcoholic husband. She poured arsenic on her husband’s food and waited. It worked as planned. Her husband passed away. Everyone thought it was a heart attack.
The news of the secret murder spread among the other wives. Women started coming to Fasekas for the arsenic that would free them from unhappy marriages. Fasekas began selling vials of poison for money.
The price was different for each person. Arsenic was sold at prices that buyers could afford. She never told anyone where the homemade poison came from. She assured buyers that no arsenic could be found in her body.
Soon, healthy people around the village started dropping dead like flies. The death rate was so high that the superstitious started whispering uneasily about witchcraft and evil spirits. At one point, as many as fifty women were poisoning their husbands.
Nagrave’s Angel Makers
“Nagrave’s Angel Makers” had some unspoken rules in their early days. Only married women can join them. The group cannot help single women use poison to get rid of their boyfriends. Nor can they help a husband get rid of an unwanted wife. Poisoning of women and children was prohibited. Women who are happily married without needing husband-killing services should not be told about the syndicate’s heinous activities.
As more wives sought Fasekas’ services, the death toll increased. After a while, the number of nearby marriages decreased. Men became afraid of marriage. For them, marriage was tantamount to a death sentence.
To avoid suspicion from the authorities, Fazekas enlisted a woman named Suzi Ola. At the age of 18, Ola poisoned her older husband. (She later killed her second husband as well.)
Ola’s son-in-law was the village’s only coroner. He signed all the death certificates. All mysterious deaths such as heart attacks, drowning (the body was thrown into the river after poisoning), disease and alcoholism were written off.
With no real medical doctors around, there was no one to challenge his conclusions. The few doctors living in the area were underpaid and overworked. They did not notice what was happening in Nagrave.
Similar past histories.
- Mass killings of husbands have occurred throughout history. In 17th-century Italy, Giulia Tofana developed Aqua Tofana, a poison made from arsenic and lead, which she sold openly as a cosmetic to unhappy wives who wanted to escape their husbands. It was a colorless and tasteless slow poison to be added drop by drop to the unfortunate man’s wine. Tofana is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of 600 people in Rome. In 1651 she was arrested and executed by papal authorities.
- In France in 1868, a herbalist named Joy gave at least three women arsenic to poison their husbands. He was caught after a husband secretly followed him to expose Joey and his clients. Joey was found guilty and sentenced to life at hard labor.
- In 1882, two women in Hungary were tried on separate charges of mass murder. In the first case, Lucas Cathy baked small cakes containing large amounts of arsenic. She sold them to women who wanted to get rid of their husbands or lovers. News reports described Kathy as “a gentle little woman of about 50 years of age, with a kind and motherly expression on her small face.”!! Kathy had killed two of her husbands. She was arrested and charged with 26 other murders. She was hanged on the gallows witnessed by a crowd of thousands.
- In the second case, Thekla Popov, a 70-year-old Romanian woman, was charged with helping to poison over a hundred women over two years. Her suitors were paid 50 to 100 florins for a bottle of “red poison”. Her actions were finally exposed by her own daughter who quarreled with her.
- In 1909, a Madame Popova was arrested in Russia for killing more than 300 men. She was a prolific poisoner who ran an assassination service specifically for wives who wanted to free themselves from their husbands. She charged her customers a nominal fee for her services. She ended men by poison, her own hands, a weapon, or a hired assassin. She was only caught when a repentant customer disclosed the matter to the authorities. Madame Popova freely admitted that during her work she freed 300 wives and that she “did a great job in freeing unhappy wives from their tyrants.” The enraged mob wanted to burn her, but Tsarist soldiers rescued her and took her to prison.
As time went by the widows began to kill indiscriminately out of greed, convenience and boredom, and the events that followed were beyond the original intent of the Angel Makers. Unwanted lovers, elderly parents on the hereditary path, annoying relatives, children who were a burden to support, the disabled, etc.
- At first Palinka only wanted to poison her husband. She realized that it worked very well, and then she sent her parents, her two brothers, her sister-in-law, and her aunt to their graves. Apart from her husband, she sent these 6 people to Kalapuri to get a house and two and a half acres of land. The Palinka murders were carried out with insolence. She had given the victim an overdose of poison. Palinka would go to town on the pretense of curing an illness and return with an expensive bottle of medicine. She will liberally administer spoonfuls of medicine until the victim dies. Of course, the medicine bottle is filled with fly-paper water very early.
- Marie Cardos killed her husband, her lover, and her sick 23-year-old son. As a mother’s last intervention for her son, she moved his bed outside the house on a warm autumn day and gave him poisoned soup. “I gave him some more poison,” she recalled in court. “Suddenly I remembered how beautifully my child used to sing in church, so I told him, ‘Sing my child! Sing my favorite song again!’ He sang it in his beautiful clear voice, and suddenly he screamed, clutched his stomach, and choked to death.
- Maria Varga, 41, killed her blind, war hero husband when she was caught having sex with her young lover multiple times at home, and he died in agony within twenty-four hours of the poison. And she didn’t stop there; Five years later, when she tired of her young lover, she poisoned him too.
- Lydia Ceri poisoned her elderly parents and bloomed the afterlife. Neighbors later testified that they heard her father scream at his dying wife, saying, “The devil take Lydia! She made us tea and that’s what killed us!”
- Julianne Lipka killed seven people, including her family members – her stepmother, her aunt, her brother and her sister – on Christmas Eve when she poisoned her husband’s rum and tea. According to a neighbor, she also helped poison the woman who lives next door to her. “I feel so sorry for that woman,” she said. “I gave her a bottle of poison and told her to try it if nothing else would help her marriage.”
- Balint Sisordas, second in command of the Angel Makers, poisoned his few children when they were too poor to feed them.
- Rosalie Sebastian and Rose Hoiba killed their husbands because the men “bored” them.!!
- Maria Zendi poisoned her husband because “he always had his own way.” “It’s terrible how men have all the power,” she later said of it.
The inexplicable deaths grew on a terrifying scale and began to spread to the neighboring town of Tisakurt. The total death toll was estimated to be as high as 300 in the area. By 1929, Nagrev was known as the “Murder District”.
Suspicion of foul play.
The killings continued in Nagrave and nearby Tissakurt for more than a decade, despite occasional suspicions by the police. Some of the frightened villagers had sent anonymous letters to the authorities, alleging that ‘women had poisoned their family members’. But beyond mere rumours, there was no evidence that foul play was involved. Natural causes of death are noted on all death certificates. What then?
The detectives who visited undercover discovered that the local people believed that it was all due to the evil forces of Fazekas, and were terrified. The eyes of the police fell on Fasekas.
A 1937 Oakland Tribune article reported what the local priest told detectives:
“Superstitious peasants are afraid of her. They believe she has supernatural powers, her official capacity as nurse and midwife gives her access to all households, and she dominates the entire district. Gentlemen, these villages are completely female dominated. All men fear for their lives! ” The description goes like this.
The turning point came in 1929 when Hungary completed its ten-year census. When officials studied the statistics, they noticed that the death rate in Nagrev village was unusually high. Therefore, a major investigation was conducted on this. During the investigation
, a woman named Mrs. Sabo confessed that she poisoned her husband and brother. She pointed at Fazekas and Ola.
Both Fasekas and Ola were brought in for questioning, but both stood firm in their declarations of innocence. And on this occasion, Mrs. Szabo retracted her confession, claiming that she had been intimidated by the police into testifying. So the police released Phasikas and Ola.
It was a win for Fasekas and Ola. They now looked untouchable to the frightened villagers. But unbeknownst to them, the police were following them.
Fasekas was secretly terrified of her arrest. She began visiting her former clients’ homes one by one to warn them that the games were over and that no one should talk. The detectives were shadowy behind her. They understand the houses she visited. There were bad deaths all over the place. The police later moved to arrest the people living in those houses.
Meanwhile, Balint Kordas, one of the syndicate’s leaders, made a trip to the capital to visit a chemist. She went to see if traces of arsenic could be found in the body of a person who had died of arsenic. The chemist replied to her that the chemical could still be found in a dead body after all this time. Although the flesh has decayed over the years, traces of arsenic remain in the nails and hair.
Overwhelmed by this shocking news, Balint Sordas hurried back to the village to convey the shocking news she had received. Fazekas and Ola felt the news like a bolt of lightning. The arsenic-laden corpses lying in the village graveyard will become evidence of their horrific deeds. They feared that the remains of their victims would bring everything out. They hastily decided on a plan of action to cover up the evidence.
That night, the thirteen widows of the murder gang gathered at Nagrave Cemetery. They planned to change the obelisks on the tombs with the aim of deceiving the authorities. They removed the tombstones from the graves of the poisoned dead and placed the tombstones of those who had not been poisoned. In this way, when the bodies of suspected poisoners are exhumed, the police will not be able to detect any traces of arsenic in the bodies. This was the plan, but as soon as they started their work, they were surrounded by the police. Many fled and some were captured.
The police decided to take out the dead bodies from the crematorium immediately. At night, the cemetery turned into a morgue as doctors examined body parts for traces of arsenic. A few widows, eager to prove their innocence, wholeheartedly supported the earth-shattering. They were afraid that their current husbands would leave them. They took this opportunity to pretend that they were not part of the murderous gang. The results of the excavation were dismal.
46 of the 50 bodies contained arsenic. The bodies that tested positive for arsenic included not only men, but also women, children and even a baby. Bottles containing dried arsenic residue, poisoned bread and cakes were found in the coffins. Because it was Fazekas’ way to destroy evidence in her home.
In light of the evidence, the police arrested around 100 widows, including Ola. Like many of the villagers, she lived in a simple one-story house near the street. She could see from her house to the far end of the road. When she saw the searchers coming down the street, she took her own poison. Fasekas committed suicide before the police let him into the house. Police found her body surrounded by containers filled with water and fly-papers.
Balint Sordas admitted that he helped poison the husbands of twenty women and his own children. That night she committed suicide in prison. She hanged herself with a rope made from her bed. There were three other widows with her in the cell at the time, who witnessed this but did not intervene and watched her hang.
26 women were tried. The defendants openly protested in court. The judge asked one of the widows, Rose Glyba, if she knew about the Ten Commandments.
“No!” she yelled.
The judge stood firm. You know the commandment, “Thou shalt not kill”? ”
“I never heard of that!” Glyba sat up shouting.
The women who were called to testify against Ola opened up about their fear of her in court. She told the jury that her eyes would “glow as red as rubies at night” and that she kept venomous snakes and lizards trained to climb into the beds of potential betrayers.
Julian Lipka, who poisoned his entire family to inherit the family estate, is worried about the trial.
“When can I go home?” she asked the lawyer. “They will auction off all my possessions while I’m here.” She believed she would be free and live out the rest of her days with a young lover.
The gang that killed the widow had obtained arsenic fly-papers from a supplier. A grocer from a nearby town testified that more fly-papers were sold in Nagrave than in any other part of Hungary.
Eight of the Arupi producers were sentenced to death. Susie Ola and her sister Lydia Ola were among the eight sentenced to death.
Lydia Ola was unrepentant at her trial. According to a Russian newspaper, she shouted,
“We are not killers! We did not stab our husbands. We did not hang them or drown them! They died of poison and this gave them a happy death”!
Twelve women were sentenced to imprisonment. Seven of the twelve women were sentenced to life imprisonment.
With the arrest of the widows and the death of the syndicate leaders, the cloud of fear that had hung over the village of Nagrave for so long lifted. However, many mysteries still surround the strange case of the Angel Makers of Nagreve. Traces of arsenic were found in bodies exhumed from the nearby town of Tizakurt, but no one in the town was punished. No one knows how many people are involved in the syndicate and how many widows are still at large. As for Fazekas, no one has been able to figure out where she came from or what her true intentions are. Historians are puzzled as to why the women of Nagreva became mass murderers. Poverty, hardship, boredom, and greed were some of the reasons assumed.
Now almost a century later, the fear that Angel Makers instilled in the villagers of Nagrave has faded. Their stories have become part of the village’s historical lore for curious visitors.
83-year-old Maria Gunya of Nagrave village was just a little girl when the widows were tried. In a 2004 interview with the BBC, she recalled with dismay that the men’s behavior towards their wives “markedly improved” after the poisoning. In charge of Nagrave Village Archives Dr. According to Geza Seh, “I’m sure there are more secrets to be discovered here or elsewhere.”