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Here at SQ, we’ve been talking about our favorite ghost stories, or those we think are the creepiest. I recently wrote about the Slender Man for the first part of the series, and now I’m back with another haunting tale.
I want to tell you about the original vampire(ss) and one of the world’s worst and most brutal serial killers: Countess Elisabeth Bathory. Because I’ve read so much about her and studied the woman as thoroughly as my sanity would permit, the mere mention of her name makes me shudder.
Elisabeth was a Hungarian countess, born in 1560, who was widowed after her husband went to war. After that, she stayed locked up in her castle with the other demented members of her family, most of whom practiced satanic rituals or witchcraft of some sort. Her maidservant also participated in these rituals.
Bathory became obsessed with remaining young and beautiful forever, which prompted her to find the perfect anti-aging cream. And she found one, all right, though not you’ll find on the shelves today.
That’s because Bathory’s anti-aging product was the blood of young virgins, thus the “vampire” myth surrounding her and her castle. She began plucking these virgins from the village she presided over, telling them she offered a “finishing school” for peasant girls. Well, she finished them, all right, killing a possible total of 650 victims in horrifying, brutal ways.
She tortured the poor girls, locking them in cages with spikes so that the blood would run down, allowing her to take a shower in it. She cut, bit, and generally mutilated the girls before and after death in countless ways, sometimes employing sexual exploitation tactics and deranged sexual practices.
Eventually, she ran out of common girls and began taking virgins from the more prominent families nearby, whereupon the authorities could no longer ignore the problem. Though Bathory was never actually convicted (she didn’t show up to her own trial) because of her royal status, she nevertheless spent the rest of her life (four years, actually) locked up in her own castle, sentenced to a life of confinement.
The scene upon the arrival of the authorities is really too morbid to tell, and they found many more bodies in the vegetable garden and near the creek beyond.
The reason I studied Bathory and her misdeeds was because I had to write a paper in senior English about her. We were using court cases in history as our subjects and trying to prove the opposite of the actual verdict. Since Bathory was jailed but never really convicted, I got to prove her guilty. And I did! But reading about her heinous, gruesome crimes almost drove me mad for a week. I couldn’t sleep and I didn’t eat well. Maybe I’m a chicken, but there’s something to be said for lawyers who have to go to bat for criminals who’ve committed treacherous, disgusting crimes. They’ve got some nerves of steel.