In 1560 the most prolific and sadistic serial killer of all time was born on a vast family estate, in what was then the Kingdom of Hungary. After that, the young Elizabeth Bathory spent her childhood at Ecsed Castle. At age 10, she was engaged in an arranged marriage to Count Ferenc Nadasdy de Nadasd et Fogarasfold. Elizabeth Bathory de Ecsed then became his loving wife at age 15, however, she kept her own family surname, to retain the higher standing that it gave her in the Habsburg Empire.
She and her husband quickly became vicious serial killers who tortured peasant girls to death, together along with their most trusted henchmen, like the cackling crone and demented dwarf. Of course, Elizabeth grew to be the most sadistic of them all. Her punishment of servants became more and more severe over time as she grew increasingly bored with life, in spite of having to run part of a kingdom in the process. Just as one example, she burned a girl with a hot iron after having messed up the laundry she was pressing.
She viewed her servants as nothing more than property, not at all as people. In fact, tormenting the help was something that all aristocrats commonly did, centuries ago. The thing was that Elizabeth Bathory took it to a whole new level. As with all the old noble families, she came from a dynasty of incest. So, inbreeding and privilege turned her into an absolute psychopath. As part of this, she was molested by her lesbian aunt as a child. This is part of the reason that Elizabeth Bathory chose the particular victims that she did. The Blood Countess had bisexual tendencies that she expressed through the domination of virgins. In many ways, she was really just tormenting them for having unwittingly aroused her.
As part of her morbidly perverse psychology, Elizabeth Bathory focused a great deal of her cruelty on the genitalia of victims. Her bizarre killing fest was also part of an attempt to achieve greater levels of arousal during moments of murder. This included a deep blood lust, which drove her to do terribly insane things, like the time in Vienna when she had a girl placed in a steel cage with inward facing spikes and then hoisted her aloft. At that point, “Ficko” the demented dwarf stood under the peasant, shouting obscenities up at her, while another female accomplice stabbed her with a spear to make the poor girl bleed down on them even more than she already was. It has even been said that she forced some of her servants to cook and eat their own flesh.
Although Elizabeth Bathory really got off on sexual sadism, she was also a devoted wife and a loving mother, with fairly healthy familial relations. At the same time, she also really loved degrading and torturing peasant girls. For instance, on more than one occasion, she stripped servants naked and made them lay down in the snow as she poured water over them until they froze in place. In her psychotic mind, it was all about escalating some kind of experimentation with the limits of human suffering. She enjoyed murdering young servant girls in barbaric new ways, such as this, for more than three decades, claiming about 650 victims in total. That’s an average of almost 20 murders a year.
Then, in 1604, her husband died while he was away at war, and she inherited everything. As her criminal career went on throughout the years, Elizabeth Bathory became more and more reckless. She began to kill girls at an ever-increasing rate and got sloppy in her efforts to conceal what went on in the castles. Corpses were just thrown over the walls, or dumped in a cemetery, garden, river, or wherever else her helpers thought to put them. The Blood Countess murdered so much that she even started to run out of victims, but her desire for ever-increasing violence was insatiable. As a consequence of this, she eventually crossed the line and killed a Hungarian noblewoman, rather than a Slovakian peasant girl.
This marked the beginning of the end of her long, dark reign of terror. In 1610, King Matthias II told the Palatine of Hungary to investigate a number of complaints that had been filed regarding Bathory’s treatment of her servants. When Gyorgy Thurzo took his troops to Cachtice Castle, what they found was far more horrifying than anything they could have ever imagined. There were nearly a dozen girls who were either dead or in the process of dying when they arrived. The victims had all been brutalized and simply left to die. The authorities had actually stumbled into an active crime scene. As such, Thurzo immediately arrested Bathory and four of her accomplices, namely Dorotya Semtesz, Ilona Jo, Katarina Benicka, and Janos “Ficko” Ujvary.
The crimes that had been committed were so despicable that the courts couldn’t even put Elizabeth Bathory on trial, instead the Empire merely prosecuted all of her accomplices. Her faithful followers were accused of the murders, and they were publicly executed as a result of what had been done. After the king’s men questioned more than 300 of the townspeople, the Blood Countess was imprisoned at age 50, within Cachtice Castle, in what is now Slovakia. She was held there, in solitary confinement, in a windowless room, until her death a few years later. In the end, her crimes were just so unbelievably unspeakable that they locked her up and threw away the key, without even leaving an official record of what she had done. Nonetheless, having never been convicted of murder, Elizabeth Bathory still goes down in history as the most prolific serial killer of all time.