Name: Peter Kürten
Born – 1883 / Died – 1931
Number of victims: At least 9 died, however many more were assaulted.
As he was being led to the execution location he asked a doctor: “Will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from the stump of my neck?”
After being told that that may be possible, Kürten surmised that it would be “the pleasure to end all pleasures.”
The sadistic killer that was to be known as “The Vampire of Dusseldorf” was born in an extremely poor region of Germany in 1883 and, as a child, was subject to numerous beatings at the hands of his abusive father.
He would later recount how, apart from his father`s behavior shaping his preference for brutality, he was also befriended by a dog-catcher who introduced him to the “pleasures” of killing animals at a very early age [he was reportedly under 10 at that stage].
As Kürten matured sexually, his bestiality extended to sheep, goats and other farmyard animals, with the teenager discovering particular pleasure when the animal was stabbed during intercourse.
He left the home at the age of 16 and for the majority of his teens and 20s was involved in an escalating stream of minor crimes. The more time he spent in prison for his misdemeanours, the more his thirst for blood developed and he ended up turninig his bottled up rage and frustration on humans instead of animals.
In total Kürten did almost 30 prison bids before his final arrest; with convictions for arson, burglary, sexual assault, and even desertion during WWI!
Hit his first documented murder victim was 10-year-old Christine Klein, whom he raped and stabbed to death in 1913.
For a period he tried to integrate into “normality” and even married a former prostitute trying to settle down. He found himself inexorably drawn to Dusseldorf, where his criminal tendencies escalated, from petty crimes to arson attacks, and then to sexual attacks, four of which are certainly attributable to him in the period up until early 1929.
As the media continuously exaggerated the details of the investigation, Peter relished in the attention and the nickname he was given do to the discovery that he was drinking the blood of his victims.
Kürten enjoyed the mass hysteria and horror enormously, feeding off the press attention, even going so far as to contact a newspaper, on November 9,1929, with a map detailing the position of the body of his latest victim, Gertrude Albermann, a five-year-old he had stabbed to death two days before, dumping her body under some rubble.
The search for the killer received a major setback, however, when a learning-disabled individual, named Stausberg, accused of similar crimes, inexplicably admitted to all of the so-called vampire killings. He was committed to an asylum, and the police were convinced that the case was solved.
Attacks became more frequent, and were widely publicized, throwing the population of Dusseldorf into a panic as the victim count rocketed and slowly a picture of the attacker began to emerge from the descriptions given by the survivors.
Recognizing that he would eventually be captured, he surrendered to the police in what he claimed was a selfless act in the hope that his wife might collect a reward for turning him in.
The trial that followed was documented step by step and in an emotionless voice, Kürten claimed that his childhood, and the German penal system, was responsible for releasing his sadistic tendencies, and he showed no remorse for his crimes.
The jury took only 90 minutes to return a verdict of guilty and Kürten was executed by guillotine on July 2, 1931, in Cologne, Germany.
Serving as the inspiration behind Fritz Lang’s classic film “M”, Peter Kürten remains one of the most infamous serial killers in European history. Nicknamed the “Vampire of Düsseldorf,” Kürten terrorized Germany between 1913 and 1929, practiced necrophilia, cannibalism, and bestiality – claiming the lives of at least nine in a series of bloody knifings and hammer attacks. Through his vivid courtroom accounts, and later descriptions to psychiatrist Karl Berg, the his actual body count is thought to be around 68.
The head was actually preserved for scientific study and you can pay its mummified remains a visit at its current home in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.At some point it ended up in the hands of a private estate, where it was eventually purchased by the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum.
† Vampiric Murderers