Running a little behind. Sometimes life happens and blogging doesn’t. Continuing on with the theme of vampire killers…
Peter Kürten, the Vampire of Dusseldorf was a German killer who committed a series of murders and sexual assaults in 1929.
Peter Kürten was from an abusive background and started killing small animals as a teen, classic serial killer behavior. He repeatedly ran away from home and lived on the streets with petty criminals. Later, Kürten claimed to have committed his first murder at age 9, when he drowned a friend. He also admitted to killing an 18-year-old girl in 1899 before his killing spree which earned him his nickname began.
In 1900, he was sentenced to a prison sentence for fraud and attempted murder. A short four years later, he was drafted into the German Army and deserted soon after. Around the same time he started setting fires for his own sexual excitement and was eventually arrested again for arson and robbery. He served another prison sentence from 1905 to 1913. Upon his release, he robbed a tavern where he murdered a nine-year-old girl by slashing her throat. Two months later, he killed another girl and several days later was arrested again for arson and burglary.
After this release, he moved in with his sister who introduced him to a woman named Auguste Scharf, who had been previously convicted of killing her husband. Its as a match made in murder heaven. They married two years later. Kürten was soon bored with marriage and started having an affair with two different housemaids. The two women reported him to the police, one claiming he raped her. Off to prison again…
He was out in six months under the condition to relocate to Dusseldorf. On February 2, 1929, Kürten stabbed an elderly woman 24 times and she survived. Five days later, he strangled a nine-year-old girl, stabbed her with scissors, and set her body on fire. Another week passed before he killed again. This time it was a male, who he stabbed 20 times. It should be noted here that the randomness of the victims is not normal, or conclusive with serial killer behavior, as most have a victim profile and M.O.
Between March to July 1929, he attempted to strangle four women. He did not kill again until August, when he raped, strangled, and stabbed a woman after a date. Kürten was still married at the time. Fearful his wife would see the blood, he buried her body and attempted to nail it to a tree. Three months later, he sent a letter to the police claiming responsibility for the murder. He also drew a map to her remains, which eventually led the police to the burial site.
He soon killed 5 people in two days, including a five-year-old girl. He attached her teenaged foster sister who survived and was able to give a description to the police. Around this time, is when he started sucking blood from victims. A month later, he killed 4 women in hammer attacks and attempted 2 more. The first victim survived, the second escaped because his hammer broke. In November 1929, he killed another five-year-old girl, with a pair of scissors. She would be his last victim.
During this time, the public was outraged the vicious killer had not yet been caught. The Düsseldorf Police received 13,000 letters in 1929 and had interviewed 9,000 people about the murders and attacks. Kürten had the infamous cooling off period and didn’t strike again until May 1930. This time, he picked up a young girl and attempted to rape and strangle her. She was able to get away when he released his grip on her throat.
The girl did not go to the police. This led to Kürten being caught by pure accident. The girl who escaped wrote a letter to her friend describing what happened. She addressed the letter incorrectly. A post office worker opened the letter, read it, reported it to the police. The police contacted the girl who led them to Kürten’s apartment where the attack at taken place. Kürten was caught t in the lobby of his apartmetn builidng. He confessed to police and to his wife that he was The Vampire of Dusseldorf.
After his arrest, Kürten was interviewed by a psychologist, who noted his acts were for sexual pleasure and he had a blood fetish. This information was the first psychological study conducted on a sexually-motivated killer. Kürten admitted to switching weapons in an attempt to throw off the police. He was declared sane and was able to stand trial. Kürten plead not guilty by reason of insanity, which did not work due to his earlier diagnosis. A jury found him guilty on April 22,1931 and he was sentenced to death. He tried to appeal, but it was denied. He was executed in July of that year by guillotine.
In the moments leading up to his death, he asked: “Tell me… after my head is chopped off, 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? That would be the pleasure to end all pleasures.”
He probably died a happy man.
After his death, his head was mummified and is currently on display at the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum in Wisconsin Dells.