the Emperor’s Assassin

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Locusta

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.

 

the girl gets around.

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Scan 5

Probably the most notable ghost story in history is that of Anne Boleyn.

For such a short life, Anne has left an incredible legacy. She is discussed at length and there are hundreds of books, theories, myths and rumors that STILL circulate to this day- almost 500 years later!

Well, not discussing her life on this post, but her death. As most of you will know, Anne was executed by beheading on May 19th, 1536. It was scheduled for May 18th, but they had to find a proper executioner. Oh how nice of them.

For hundreds of years it seems Queen Anne has refused to “let it go” (yes I’m singing that song now) and has been haunting several locations throughout England. Including:

The Tower of London, Windsor Castle, Hever Castle, Blickling Hall, Hampton Court, Salle Church, and Marwell Hall. Sometimes she is merely floating in the halls, other times she is seen standing in the window, and some stories report that Anne’s ghost has been seen sitting in a coach, led by a headless coachmen, with her severed head on her lap. Eek.

There is a great article on all of these hauntings here: http://www.ghost-story.co.uk/index.php/ghost-stories/341-the-ghost-of-queen-anne-boleyn

lighting strikes, maybe once, maybe twice.

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StevieNicks

I got to check off an item from my bucket list last night- saw Fleetwood Mac at the TD Garden in Boston. I’m a lifelong fan- the first record album I ever bought was Rumours and the first CD I ever bought was Rumours.

I was incredibly touched by the back story on the song “Gypsy”. Stevie explained that it was in reference to her life “before all this happened” and her dreams of buying an outfit in the famous store the Velvet Underground (a shop in which Janice Joplin and Grace Slick shopped) when she had no money.

Rumors of witchcraft have always followed Stevie- this is most likely a result of the lyrics from Rhiannon and her flowing lacy wardrobe. However, her music is copyrighted under the name Welsh Witch Music, and with her recent guest appearance on American Horror Story: Coven, the rumors have begun to circulate once again.

There is a great article with the back stories on several of her songs here: http://music-mix.ew.com/2009/03/31/stevie-nicks-in/

“She is like a cat in the dark
and then she is the darkness
she rules her life like a fine skylark
and when the sky is starless
All your life you’ve never seen
woman taken by the wind
Would you stay if she promised you heaven?
will you ever win?”

high on the hog.

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BelleGunnes

Oof. I’ve come across Belle Gunness’ story several times, but I never read through all the details. What a horror show.

Belle Gunness (1859-1908?) may have brutally murdered up to 40 people, including her own children. All for money.

Belle moved to the United States from Norway in 1881 and married Mads Ditlev Anton Sorenson in Chicago. They started a sweet shop which failed -and- burnt to the ground (suspicious). The couple collected the insurance money and moved. They had four children, one of which died under weird circumstances (probably poison). So… another insurance payment. Sorenson died in 1900- again, under suspicious circumstances (poison) and Belle collected ANOTHER insurance payment the day after his funeral. She took the money and moved to Indiana.

She then married Peter Gunness. Peter was recently widowed with an infant daughter. The daughter just happened to drown in a bath tub while alone with Belle. Shortly after, a meat grinder “accidentally” fell on Peter’s head, killing him instantly (MORE insurance money).

THEN… she starts running ads for suitors in the Chicago Daily Newspapers:

“comely widow who owns a large farm in one of the finest districts in La Porte County, Indiana, desires to make the acquaintance of a gentleman equally well provided, with view of joining fortunes. No replies by letter considered unless sender is willing to follow answer with personal visit. Triflers need not apply”

(I had to look up trifler- it’s a person who lacks experience and competence in an art or science.)

One applicant, John Moe, mysteriously disappeared after paying Gunness a visit. As did Ole Budsberg, Andrew Helgelien, and several other lonely, middle-aged men. Most of which had last been seen withdrawing money from area banks.

and THEN…

There’s a fire at the house. When the firemen arrived- four bodies were found in the house. One of the bodies was a headless woman (the head was never found). Her three surviving children died in their beds- and although the authorities immediately thought the headless woman was Gunness… it was most likely NOT. Belle was six feet tall and weighed 200 pounds. The woman from the fire was about 5’3″ and would not have weighed more than 150 pounds even WITH her head. Later- it was discovered that the organs of the headless woman contained deadly levels of strychnine.

and there’s MORE…

After sifting through the burnt remains of the house- investigators found some teeth (with roots attached) a gold crown, and a porcelain tooth. The local dentist confirmed that this was all work he had performed on Gunness. BUT, her farmhand came forward with information that led people to believe she had put her own teeth by the body of her victim to fake her own death.

In 1908, the local police dug up Gunness’ farm (the hog pen) and discovered the bodies of 2 small children, along with Ole Budsberg, Thomas Lindboe, Henry Gurholdt, Olaf Svenherud, John Moe, Olaf Lindbloom, Jennie Olson and as many as 27 other possible victims, all of whom had, unfortunately, some sort of connection with Gunness.

Reports of Gunness Sightings came in from all over the United States- but nothing was verified. As late as 2007, forensic anthropologists exhumed the so-called remains of Belle from the fire. Their findings were inconclusive.

The case remains unsolved.

There are some HORRIBLE PHOTOS from the dig here (not for the squeamish):

http://murderpedia.org/female.G/g/gunness-belle-photos-3.htm

Another article with more info here:

http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/11/unsolved-case-belle-gunness-lady-bluebeard/

 

la Saponificatrice di Correggio

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Leonarda

Leornarda Cianciulli (1894 – 1970) was also known as the Soap-Maker of Correggio.

Her story is not for the faint of heart. You’ve been warned.

Leonarda had a very troubled life BEFORE she carried out some of the grossest crimes I’ve ever heard of. She attempted suicide twice as a young girl, and spent time in prison for fraud. After moving to Lacedonia, Italy with her husband in 1930, her home was destroyed by an earthquake. Oddly enough- after all that, she opened up a shop in Correggio and earned the reputation of a nice, gentle mother and neighbor.

While married, she had 17 pregnancies. Three were miscarriages, and ten died as babies. Apparently, a fortune teller had told her that she would have many children- but all of them would die. A palm reader told her that she saw a prison and an asylum in her future.

So… here’s where it gets INSANE. Like, so-gross-don’t-read-this-while-eating insane.

Her oldest son, Giuseppe, joined the Italian Army just before WWII. Leonarda believed that in order to guarantee his safety, she’d have to offer up human sacrifices. Her first victim, Faustina Setti was drugged, then butchered with an axe. But Leonarda saved her blood. In her own words (yes, Leonarda penned a memoir):

“I threw the pieces into a pot, added seven kilos of caustic soda, which I had bought to make soap, and stirred the whole mixture until the pieces dissolved in a thick, dark mush that I poured into several buckets and emptied in a nearby septic tank. As for the blood in the basin, I waited until it had coagulated, dried it in the oven, ground it and mixed it with flour, sugar, chocolate, milk and eggs, as well as a bit of margarine, kneading all the ingredients together. I made lots of crunchy tea cakes and served them to the ladies who came to visit, though Giuseppe and I also ate them.”

The next victim was Francesca Soavi. She was also drugged then butchered as was Virginia Cacioppo. Leonarda also wrote:

“She ended up in the pot, like the other two…her flesh was fat and white, when it had melted I added a bottle of cologne, and after a long time on the boil I was able to make some most acceptable creamy soap. I gave bars to neighbours and acquaintances. The cakes, too, were better: that woman was really sweet”

My stomach is turning.

She was tried and convicted for all three murders- but only sentenced to 30 years in prison and 3 years in an asylum (palm reader had that nailed).

If you care to see the pot in which her victims were boiled- you can visit the Criminological Museum in Rome. http://www.museocriminologico.it

If you can read Italian- her memoir can be purchased on Amazon here:

 

hell to pay.

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AngeladelaBarthe

Angéle de la Barthe (1230-1275) was SUPPOSEDLY the first person to be put to death for heretical sorcery- however- only recently, it has been discovered that everything about this woman was fabricated (mmm… maybe.)

The story says that she was a noblewoman living in Toulouse, France and was accused by Inquisitor Hugues de Beniols for having sex with the devil and giving birth to a monster with a wolf’s head and serpent’s tail. This monster ate babies (slaughtered by Angéle or dug up from graves). She confessed to all of it (claiming her baby-eating monster flew away in the night to avoid capture) and was burned alive in Toulouse.

Researches have questioned the entire story due to the fact that A. There is no mention of the trial in court records and B. Having relations with the devil was not yet a crime. uh… ok.

The real story is probably somewhere in the middle- I’m guessing Angéle was a bit of an outcast, or maybe extremely outspoken. She was most likely tried by the townspeople taking matters into their own hands during some sort of turmoil (bad crops, disease, political upheaval, religious strife). Pair that with a masochistic Catholic priest who sought to make a name for himself – and voila- the execution of poor Angéle.

Mon dieu!

 

Queen of the Witches

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aradia

This is Aradia. Queen of the Witches.

In 1899 Charles Leland wrote a book called “Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches”. Leland used this as a religious text for a group of Pagan Witches in Tuscany. In this “gospel” Aradia is the messianic daughter of the goddess Diana and the god Lucifer. She was sent to earth to teach oppressed peasants witchcraft against the Roman Catholics. Upon arriving on earth, Aradia told her followers “ye shall all be freed from slavery, and so ye shall be free in everything.”

Aradia appears in various cultures prior to Leland’s book. She is seen in Italian folklore as a supernatural heroine. some claim she was based on a real woman named Aradia di Toscano. This woman ran a group of witches that worshipped Diana in the 14th century.

Aradia is also an important figure in Wiccan traditions- she is known as the Great Goddess, Moon Goddess, or Queen of the Witches.

In 1992, a man named Aidan Kelly, co-founder of the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn (that’s a heavy title for a business card.) wrote a document titled “The Gospel of Diana and referenced Aradia and the Gospel of the Witches. Aidan’s descriptions have Aradia as quite a sexual being “the sexual act becomes not only an expression of the divine life force, but an act of resistance against all forms of oppression.”

Very cool. I like her. Stand aside Queen Elizabeth I, I’ve found my new muse.

The White Lady (well, one of them.)

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PerchtaFINAL

There are several stories/legends of a “White Lady” ghost- but the most well-known comes out of the Czech Republic. The stories are a wee bit sensationalized so it’s difficult to weed through details and dates.

Perchta von Rozmberk (1429-1476) was the beautiful daughter of Ulrich II von Rosenberg. They were a very powerful and wealthy family so Perchta had many suitors. Unfortunately, Ulrich married her off to Jan von Lichtenstein- who was a cruel and abusive man. He had only recently been widowed, and his widow’s mother and sister still lived with him- ouch! That does NOT sound welcoming! They made her life quite miserable, mostly because Perchta’s father refused to pay the agreed dowry.

Unable to leave her husband, she remained in a sort of hell-on-earth existence. She wrote to her brother and father constantly, begging for them to save her. ” Take me away from these evil people and you will merit praise as if you released a soul from purgatory!” They did not come. These letters are still in existence and have been published. (You can purchase here: http://www.amazon.de/The-Letters-Rozmberk-Sisters-Fifteenth-Century/dp/085991612X)

When Jan was on his death bed- he asked for Perchta’s forgiveness, but she refused. It is thought that he cursed her in his last breath, forcing her to roam his hell castle for eternity. (If it’s THAT easy- I, uh, well…let’s just say I may be haunting a few locations in the afterlife.)

Shortly after her death, Perchta’s  ghost began to appear in several locations including Rozmberk Castle and Cesky Krumlov Castle.  Her remaining relatives claimed she appeared to them whenever something important was going down (always in a white dress) if her ghost was wearing black gloves- bad things were about to happen, if she was wearing white gloves- all good on the home front.

Perchta’s ghost watched over the last child in the family, Peter Vok. She told the Nanny- “Watch the baby. When he grows up, tell him how much I have loved him and show him the place from which I used to come to his cradle and then leave.” When Peter learned of this, he took down the wall where Perchta’s ghost disappeared and found a treasure. Although this was supposedly the last time the ghost was seen- there was a report of a sighting during WWII. Apparently, Perchta ran off a bunch of Nazi’s inhabiting the Cesky Krumlov castle.

bad kitty.

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AgnesWaterhouse

Agnes Waterhouse (1503 – 1566) was the first woman executed for witchcraft in England.

She was accused, along with 2 other women- Elizabeth Francis and her daughter, Joan Waterhouse. The actual trial notes are confusing, but what it boils down to is this:

Elizabeth Francis confessed to having a familiar- a cat named Satan. She received the cat from her grandmother- who taught her witchcraft as a child.

Elizabeth had a close relationship with Satan and it spoke to her in exchange for drops of blood. She also said the cat helped her kill people, terminate pregnancies and instructed her to steal cattle (reminds me of Toonces- anyone remember him?)

Here’s the best part- Elizabeth gave Agnes the cat in exchange for cake. Priorities, priorities. Agnes tested the cat’s witchy abilities and had it kill one of her pigs. After arguing with her neighbors- she had him kill their cows and geese.

Joan Waterhouse testified next- she confessed to giving it a whirl with Satan when her mother was out. At this point in the story- Satan had transformed himself into a toad. When Joan was refused food from a neighbor’s child- Satan the toad offered to help in exchange for her soul. Joan agreed to the deal- and the toad, now a dog with horns, harassed the child. This child, in turn, testified that the black dog with horns asked her for butter (I’m not making this up) and when she refused, Satan promised she would die. When the child asked who the master’s “dame” was- he indicated that it was, in fact, Agnes Waterhouse. And THIS, my friends, was the evidence that convicted poor Agnes. Toads, butter, dogs, horns, a child’s word.

Two days after the trial, Agnes was executed. In her final words- she said she had prayed often, but always in Latin because Satan forbid her to pray in English.

I think everyone involved ate some liberty cap mushrooms.

Big Easy Bloodbath

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DauphineSt

716 Dauphine St in New Orleans has quite a gruesome past. It was built in 1836 by plantation owner Jean Baptiste LaPrete. He was forced to rent the place when times got tough. The tenant claimed to be a Turkish Sultan and went by the name Prince Suleyman. LaPrete was happy a royal family was moving in. He acquired the house for his “large family of many wives, children, and servants.” After moving in to the mansion, Suleyman covered all the windows, padlocked the front doors, and had armed guards placed around the entrances.

The so-called Sultan kept a harem of many women- and- unfortunately, young boys. Rumors flew around the neighborhood and it was speculated that the Sultan was kidnapping locals to serve as sex slaves and that he had gone mad from opiates.

A neighbor, out on a stroll, happened to pass by the house and noticed blood dripping from the balcony above. When the police arrived, they found body parts all over the property. All the women, children and guards were beheaded- total bloodbath. The Sultan had been buried alive in the courtyard- but oddly enough- he was dressed in Muslim funeral attire. hmmm.

Pirates were blamed for the murders. They discovered that Prince Suleyman was a fraud- possibly the brother of a real Sultan that escaped his country to avoid being killed and being arrested for stealing his brother’s money. Most likely, the real Sultan’s assassins finally caught up with him.

Those that have lived in the house have reported seeing the Sultans’ apparition, hearing the sounds of body parts hitting the floor and smelling incense.

You can see an old real estate listing for the property- which has 9 bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and is 7057 square feet. It sold for $2 million last year. http://www.zillow.com/homedetails/716-Dauphine-St-New-Orleans-LA-70116/73783720_zpid/

I wonder if the new owners know the history. yikes.

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