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DEADLY DAMES – Vera Renczi

Vera Renczi

The story of Vera Renczi, a stunningly beautiful Romanian woman, always dressed in black, was first published in the USA in May 1925. After that, the story surfaced repeatedly, without any documentary support about the specific dates of her birth, marriage, arrest or death. She reportedly confessed about poisoning 35 individuals with arsenic and keeping them in coffins in her basement during the 1920s. The victims include her two husbands, lovers, and her son. She was always afraid of being cheated by men. So she killed them and kept their bodies near her, claiming that the dead men would never abandon her. In fact, she used men as disposable sex objects.

According to some available accounts, Renczi was born in Bucharest in 1903. During her early teens, her family relocated to the town of Berkerekul, in former Yugoslavia, where she attended a boarding school. During her adolescence, she was involved in many sexual scandals. By the age of fifteen, she became totally indiscipline and uncontrollable by her parents and had frequently run away from home with numerous boyfriends, many of whom were significantly older than she was. Renczi was described by her childhood friends as having an almost irresistible pathological desire for constant male companionship and possessing a highly jealous and suspicious nature.

Vera Renczi

Shortly before she attained twenty, she was married to a wealthy Austrian banker, Karl Schick, many years her senior. Soon, they had a son, Lorenzo. However, during those days, while her husband was away at his working place, she was left alone at home throughout the day and brood. She started to think and believe that Karl was cheating her. Finally, on a fateful evening, Renczi poisoned his dinner wine with arsenic in a brutal rage. To avoid inquisitive questions she informed everybody that Karl Schick had deserted the family. After a silence of about a year, she again announced that she had heard the news of her estranged husband’s death in a car accident.

Shortly after the so called automobile accident of her first husband, Renczi married again to a man nearer to her own age. However, from the very onset, the new relationship was a turbulent one and Renczi was once again terribly tormented by the suspicion that her husband was involved in extramarital affairs. Within a month of the marriage, the new husband also vanished and this time again Renczi declared that the man had walked out of her life. After a year of the incident, she claimed to have received a letter from him informing his intention of leaving her forever.

Vera Renczi

After the second marriage, Renczi never married again. Instead, she spent the next several years carrying out a number of affairs, some sneaky and illicit relationship with married men, and sleeping with her suitors of different social status, openly and indiscriminately. However, within a few months, even after a few days, after becoming romantically involved with her, all those persons would vanish magically without leaving any trace. Renczi always used to fabricate stories about her ex-lovers and brand them as unfaithful and abandoned.

Eventually, one day the wife of one of her lovers followed her husband to Renczi’s home. As the man was making inordinate delay to return home, her wife became intimidated and called the police. The police raided her home and discovered thirty-five unburied, zinc-lined coffins in her basement. Each coffin contained a male corpse in varying stages of decomposition. Renczi was seated in her armchair among them, enjoying the nearness of her former suitors. Renczi was arrested and taken into police custody. While confessing her crime she said that she kill those men, as they were men. She killed them, when she felt their interest in her was waning. She could not endure the thought that those men would ever put their arms around another woman. She also confessed that she had to poison her son, as one day he accidentally discovered the coffin display in her cellar and threatened to blackmail her. She also feared her son would soon leave her to marry some young girl, so she held him in her arms as he lay dying so she would be the last person to hug him.

Renczi was convicted of 35 murders and sentenced to life imprisonment, where she subsequently died due to cerebral hemorrhage.

In 2005, The Discovery Channel’s three part series Deadly Women recounted the story of Renczi, in the series’ first episode titled “Obsession”.  There, in the reenactment of the story, Rinczi was described as having killed her victims in the “1930s in Bucharest, Romania”.  As for her motivation, the voice-over of the commentator from the FBI said that, “modern analysis suggests she was simply looking for love”. However, in 1972, the Guinness Book of World Records found no documentary evidence to support the claim that 35 people were actually killed by Renczi in early 20th-century Romania.

Vera Renczi

Dibyendu Banerjee
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.

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