Elizabeth Bathory ; Serial Killer & Torturer (Documentary)
Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed (Báthory Erzsébet in Hungarian, Alžbeta Bátoriová in Slovak; 7 August 1560 -- 21 August 1614) was a countess from the renowned Báthory family of nobility in the Kingdom of Hungary. She has been labelled the most prolific female serial killer in history and is remembered as the "Blood Countess," though the precise number of victims is debated. After her husband Ferenc Nádasdy's death, she and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls, with one witness attributing to them over 650 victims, though the number for which they were convicted was 80. Due to her rank, Elizabeth herself was neither tried nor convicted. But upon her arrest in December 1610, she was imprisoned in Čachtice Castle, now in Slovakia, where she remained immured in a set of rooms until her death four years later. Later writings about the case have led to legendary accounts of the Countess bathing in the blood of virgins to retain her youth and subsequently also to comparisons with Vlad III the Impaler of Wallachia, on whom the fictional Count Dracula is partly based, and to modern nicknames of the Blood Countess and Countess Dracula. Arrest Thurzó debated further proceedings with Elizabeth's son Paul and two of her sons-in-law. A trial and execution would have caused a public scandal and disgraced a noble and influential family (which at the time ruled Transylvania), and Elizabeth's considerable property would have been seized by the crown. Thurzó, along with Paul and her two sons-in-law, originally planned for Elizabeth to be spirited away to a nunnery, but as accounts of her murder of the daughters of lesser nobility spread, it was agreed that Elizabeth Báthory should be kept under strict house arrest, but that further punishment should be avoided. King Matthias requested that Elizabeth be sentenced to death. It was also determined that Matthias would not have to repay his large debt to her, for which he lacked sufficient funds. Thurzó went to Csejte Castle on 30 December 1610 and arrested Báthory and four of her servants, who were accused of being her accomplices: Dorotya Semtész, Ilona Jó, Katarína Benická, and János Újváry ("Ibis" or Fickó). Thurzó's men reportedly found one girl dead and one dying and reported that another woman was found wounded while others were locked up. The countess was put under house arrest. King Matthias urged Thurzó to bring her to court and two notaries were sent to collect further evidence, but Thurzó successfully convinced the king that such an act would negatively affect the nobility. Hence, a trial was postponed indefinitely. Thurzo's motivation for such an intervention is debated by scholars. Trial Báthory's accomplices were brought to court. The trial began on 2 January 1611 at Bicse, presided over by Royal Supreme Court judge Theodosious Syrmiensis de Szulo and 20 associate judges. Báthory herself did not appear at the trial. During the trial, dozens of witnesses and survivors, sometimes up to 35 a day, testified. All but one of her servants testified against her, and the one who refused had her eyes gouged out and her breasts removed before being burned at the stake. In addition to the testimony, the court also examined the skeletons and cadaver parts found as evidence. The defendants were found guilty on 80 counts of murder. In a second part of the trial, a newly-discovered register handwriting was entered as evidence that suggested there could have been as many as 650 victims, with the suggestion being that she recorded all her victims, but this could not be proven, and the count remained at 80. Three of the defendants -- Semtész, Jó and Ficko -- were condemned to death. The sentences were carried out immediately. Before being burned at the stake, Semtész and Jó had their fingers ripped off their hands with hot pincers, while Ficko, who was deemed less culpable, was beheaded, and his body burned. Benická was sentenced to life imprisonment, since recorded testimony indicated that she was dominated and bullied by the other women. Following the trial, a red gallows was erected near the castle to show the public that justice had been done.