Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Vampire Killers

The Kiss of Death

Bela Kiss sketch
Bela Kiss sketch
This man's nefarious activities started with his wife's infidelity.  In Czinkota, Hungary, Bela Kiss married a pretty woman 15 years his junior.  She took up with a neighbor, and in 1912 they both disappeared. Kiss said that she'd run away.

Then other women turned up missing around Budapest, many of them who told others before they disappeared that they were meeting a man by the name of Hoffman. Yet the police could never locate such a person for questioning.  Rumors floated around Kiss's town, but no one linked them to him.

When Kiss was drafted in 1914, he went to war and never came back.  Neighbors believed that he'd died from wounds at the front.

Since he'd bought a number of metal drums, allegedly to store petrol, the army confiscated seven of them for supplies. When the drums were opened each one was found to be the preserved body of a naked woman.  Autopsies indicated that they'd been strangled but there was something more.  Each had wounds on her neck and had been drained of blood. 

A search turned up at least 17 more barrels (other reports give the number as 19 and 24 on the property, including those containing Kiss's wife and her boyfriend).  Yet authorities believed he was dead, so they closed the cases.

A vampiric turn of events occurred when they heard from the nurse who supposedly had attended to the fatally wounded Kiss at the battlefront.  Her description of the dying man failed to match the real Kiss.  Then reports of Kiss surfaced in Budapest.  Each time the police checked out the rumors of a sighting, Kiss had vanished.  He was never caught.

At around the same time in nearby Germany, another man was busy earning himself a sinister nickname.


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