Locusta was probably the first recorded serial killer and/or hired hit-woman. It is believed she knew a great deal about herbs and plants- and when she moved to city of Rome, this knowledge was sought out for evil purposes.
Agrippina the Younger hired her in 54 AD to serve up poisoned mushrooms to murder Emperor Claudius (so that Agrippina’s son, Nero could become Emperor). It worked.
Nero became emperor and, with good reason, was extremely paranoid. Claudius’s other son, Britannicus, had claim to the throne. So… Nero ordered Locusta to be released from prison (for poisoning another victim) and set her up to start an assassin school. She was given a large estate where students were sent to “learn her craft.” Again, her mad skills were effective, Britannicus died from poisoned wine while dining with Nero and Agrippina.
Business was good after that. Land, money, gifts… imperial referrals, assignments. Cha-Ching! That is, until Nero committed suicide. Although he had requested a deadly concoction from Locusta, he ended his life with his own dagger. With Nero dead, Locusta was held accountable for all of her crimes (I believe the official charge was sorcery) in 69 AD under the orders of Emperor Galba.
There are some, well, uh… disturbing rumors about how Locusta was executed. Many have said that she was raped by a specially trained giraffe and then ripped apart by wild animals. I’m not making this up. Historians have *sort of* debunked this story, saying that the confusion was based around the fact that the Ancient Romans usually conducted executions during festivals. However, the Agonalia festival was celebrated on January 8th (oddly enough, that’s my birthday) and Locusta was publicly executed on that day. Bestiality was a common form of entertainment at these festivals. So, in conclusion, it would not be outlandish to believe this could’ve happened.
Ok. I’m going to throw up now.