The post contains fragments from Romanian newspapers that told the story and followed it over the years! I have translated the clippings myself.
A couple of years ago, an incident that occurred in a village from Dolj came to terrorize the whole of Europe after the news was forecast by international news channels and newspapers [such as Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times]. The Discovery Channel produced a documentary in 2005 to advice against those types of rituals and keep them from repeating. National Geographic mentioned the case in one of its documentaries from back in 2006 [Is it real: Vampires? hosted by actor Anthony Head – Giles from “Buffy the vampire slayer”].
The story itself is a very sad one and many believe that the fate played a bad joke on Petre when he was born in Romania – a country known for its superstitious people.
On December 28 2003, Petre Toma of age 76 from the village Marotinu de Sus, was buried in the local cemetery. A few days later several members of his family fell ill accusing different types of pain.
Gheorghe Marinescu [Petre`s brother-in-law] came to the conclusion that the old man had turned into a vampire and was returning from the grave to feed off them. He took it upon himself to deal with this as they did in the old times.
He turned to these rituals as fast as he could because among the ill was also his daughter!
On the night of 9 to 10 January 2004 Marinescu and 5 neighbors went to the cemetery and unearthed Toma. They cut open his chest and debunked part of his heart.
They used stakes to pin the corpse to the coffin and garlic to
The six covered up their tracks and proceeded to burning the heart at a crossroad. The resulting ash was mixed with holy water and given to the ill in belief that by consuming this potion they would be healed.
Believe it or not, up to this point, the men apparently didn`t do anything wrong in the eyes of most of the the villagers. This is portrayed by the statements that some of the elders of the rural community gave to the journalists:
”If they wouldn`t have done what they did the dead`s niece wouldn`t have been alive today. She was very sick. Toma had turned into a vampire and was attacking her at night. The girl claimed that he would take the form of a bird or an animal and pray on her at night. He was pulling her to the grave.”
Later accounts of the moment of the exhumation presented some interesting facts that were added as the story was retold. Presumably the body wasn`t in the position one would expect; he had the hands alongside the body [not on the chest], and his head was turned to a side, with significant traces of what appeared to be blood on the mouth and neck.
What may seam even more shocking is that the case didn`t come to the attention of the press because someone talked about the ritual itself!
The authorities were contacted when someone in the family [according to some sources it was a nephew] said that apart from the heart, the six men had cut Toma`s penis and placed it in his mouth.
Later investigation would reveal that only the heart was removed!
- The vampire hunters were convicted to 6 months jail!
Gheorghe Marinescu, Mircea Mitrică, Stelică Popa, Ion Ionescu, Florea Constantin şi Oprea Pascu were convicted by the authorities to serve 6 months in jail and to pay compensatory amounts to the family of the supposed vampire.
The sentence was commuted after a large number of locals testified for the 6 men and asked for clemency.
As Gheorghe Marinescu subsequently explained: “We performed a ritual that is hundreds of years old. We had no idea we were committing a crime. On the contrary, we believed that we were doing a good thing because the spirit of Petre was haunting us all and was very close to killing some of us. He came back from the dead and was after us.”
For most of the old folk of Marotinul de Sus, ripping one`s heart from its fresh corpse and cremating it isn`t anything new!
During the investigation it was revealed that over the past few years over 20 graves from the local cemetery were reopened after the burial ceremony by the locals.
But those cases no one informed the authorities for the sake of the “ill” that supposedly got better each time such a ritual was performed.
Because everyone know about these practices but no one talked about it, the tradition was passed on from generation to generation.
I have reproduced the remaining [full] articles on this blog because I noticed that some were removed for extra space from sites of the newspapers that own them.
Back in 2010 when I did the piece in Romanian there used to be a lot more articles.
Keep in mind that you will find inconsistencies as a result of poor detail forwarding – that is why I base my article on the pieces I found in the Romanian press 😉
1. The real vampire slayers – signed Timothy Taylor for “The Independent” on Sunday 28 October 2007
2. A village still in thrall to Dracula by Daniel McLaughlin for The Observer Sunday on June 19, 2005