Number of victims: 45 - 200+
Date of murders: 1911 - 1929
Method of murder: Poisoning
Location: Nagyrev, Hungary
Julia Fazekas arrived in the village of Nagyrev, Hungary in 1911. A midwife by trade, she quickly became the de facto village doctor. She could also be relied upon to perform abortions on demand, something that saw her arrested numerous times (although she was always acquitted by sympathetic judges).
In Hungary at that time, a teenaged girl’s husband was chosen by her family. Usually these were older men and the girl had no say in the matter. Even if the man was abusive or an alcoholic (and many were) she could not divorce. Then came WWI and the men of Nagyrev were marched off to the front. In their place came hundreds of Allied prisoners of war, as the village became the site of a POW camp. Soon many of the local women were involved in liaisons with foreign soldiers.
Then the war ended and the men of Nagyrev returned to their homes. Many had been physically and emotionally scarred by the conflict and wanted only to return to their old way of life. Their wives, having had a taste of freedom, were not prepared to accept that. Many ended up at Fazekas’s door, complaining of rape and rough treatment. She, in turn, offered them a solution, an arsenic concoction distilled by boiling flypaper.
Over the years that followed, many a troublesome husband was dispatched to an early grave. But the women didn’t stop there. Bothersome parents, unwanted lovers and even unruly children got a taste of Fazekas’s brew. Between 1911 and 1929 as many as 300 may have died in Nagyrev and its surrounding towns. Inevitably though, that many unexplained deaths drew attention.
After an anonymous letter was sent to the editor of a local newspaper the authorities exhumed dozens of corpses from the local cemetery. Many were found to have traces of arsenic, resulting in Fazekas, her closest confidant Suszanah Olah, and 32 other women being indicted for murder. Twelve received prison terms while eight, including Fazekas and Olah, were sentenced to death. However, only two executions were carried out, Suszanah Olah and one other. As for Fazekas, it is believed that she died after imbibing her own concoction.
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