Perhaps no other serial killer in the history of crime is more known than 'Jack the Ripper'. In 1888 he terrified the Whitechapel section of London, England killing at least 5 female prostitutes. He mutilated them with surgeon-like precision and took ghoulish souvenirs in the process, all the while goading the police to catch him, which they never did. 'Saucy Jack' was the first modern serial killer of which all others have been measured since. Ten weeks in 1888, the 'Autumn of Terror' as it is now known, 'Saucy Jack' murdered Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly. He is suspected however in 13 other murders.
The human monster I'm afraid did not begin with him. Dozens of prolific serial murderers existed before 1888 most of which are unknown to the casual true crime readers out there. Men and women who chill the soul with their acts of depravity, barbarism and brutality. Things that you wouldn't believe one human could do to another were daily occurrences to these monsters of history. They did not blink or think twice when it came to doing what they did and most of them met gruesome ends.
And so I present to you five wicked, lost to history serial killers: the “Black Ranger” Niklaus Stüller, Axlar-Björn, 'La Quintrala' Catalina de los Rios y Lisperguer, Peter Niers and Jasper Hanebuth.
Catalina de los Rios y Lisperguer was born sometime in 1604 to her father Gonzalo de los Rios, a Spaniard, and Catalina Lisperguer Flores, a Mestizo native. She gained the nickname 'La Quintrala' because of her beautiful red hair. Sometime thereafter It is said that her mother made a pact with the devil and then proceded to try and posion the Spanish Governor at that time, Alonso de Ribera. The Governor had her imprisoned in a convent accused of witchcraft. This had a profound affect on young Catalina. She began to shun her father, rebelling and rejecting his authority over her. She found refuge and was ultimately raised by her Native American grandmother. While living with her she learned how to cast spells and incantations, use incense, and other things we would associate today with witchcraft.
When she turned 15 she inherited Tobalaba Farm from her Grandmother and the Hacienda La Ligua and Longotoma, the most productive hacienda in the country at that time. Four years later she made her first kill, her father. She would poison him to death by poisoning his chicken and though she was suspected of killing him, accused by her sister no less, she was only fined. The following year she had a Knight of San Juan, Enrique Guzman, who was courting her for marriage, killed by one of her slaves. The poor wretch was hanged in the Plaza de Santiago for the crime. Again she was fined. Seeing the bloodthirsty instincts beginning to simmer to the surface, her grandmather and guardian decided that if 'La Quintrala' was married that it would quench her thirst for death. Seeing as she was very wealthy and beautiful, it did not take long for her to find a husband, Alonso Campofrijo Carvajal, a impoverished knight and soldier. They were married in September of 1626.
In 1633 'La Quintrala' attempted to murder a priest who had scolded her for her cruelty towards her servants and slaves. In the same year, Bishop Francisco Gonzalez de Salcedo told the Council of the Indies that 'La Quintrala' had murdered her step-daughter by beating her to death. It is thought that Alonso was complicit in many of Catalina's crimes. Around 1650 she was widowed.
'La Quintrala' is best known for her cruelty towards her servants, slves and natives. Daily she would torture her victims regardless of age or sex. Eventually her servants fled to the hills. In 1660 the royal court sent an investigator to find out what was happening at La Ligua. Soon thereafter 'La Quintrala' along with her manager Asesino Erazo and cousin Geronimo de Altamarino were arrested and taken to the capital Santiago. 40 murders were investigated and they were charged on 14 counts. The trial would last 4 years. 'La Quintrala,' however, would evade justice. She died while sitting in jail on January 15 th , 1665 before she could be convicted. She was given the funeral a woman of her status would have been given and buried in the Church of Saint Agustin in Santiago.
Though 'La Quintrala' escaped justice, others were less fortunate. What we know of the 'Black Ranger' Niklaus Stüller comes from the man who executed him, Frantz Schmidt, who was the executioner in Nurrmburg, Germany for over 40 years. He kept a journal where he recorded some 600 hangings, beheadings, burnings, floggings, rackings, wheel-breakings and any number of other torturous acts carried out by the law in those times.
Little is known about Niklaus Stüller other than his crimes and his death. Frantz Schmidt in his autobiography wrote why he executed Stüller , 'First he shot a horse-soldier; secondly he cut open a pregnant woman alive in which was a dead child; thirdly he again cut open a pregnant woman in whom was a female child; fourthly he once more cut open a pregnant woman in whom were two male children'. He cut open each of these poor woman's bellys and ripped the unborn children from there wombs. His accomplice and friend Phila von Sunberg then took the babies by their legs and smashed their heads onto the ground until they were deceased. An atrocious act such as this recieved an atrocious punishment.
When caught Stüller was tied to a sled and dragged through the German town of Bamberg where large crowds had gathered to see this monster meet his maker. As he was dragged his flesh was torn from his body three times with red hot pincers. When they reached his place of execution he was spread out and staked to the ground. Long thin pieces of wood were then placed under his elbows and knees and he was beaten to death with a heavy wooden wheel designed to shatter his body. Known as the 'Breaking Wheel, this method of execution was agonizingly slow. Some people lived for days after they were 'broken' before they expired. After forty blows his shattered corpse was tied to the wheel and left to be picked at by the carrion-eaters.
Peter Niers is another German serial killer archtype. From the 1550's to the 1570's, Peter Niers led a band of roaming marauders from Pfalzburg to Gersbach murdering and stealing along the way. When mr. Niers was caught in 1577 and tortured by authorities at Gersbach. There he confessed to 75 murders. Astoundingly, he managed to escape and continued his killing spree for another 4 years. In 1581. This is where things get weird. At some point during his godless tour it is said that he gathered his gang at Pfalzburg to meet with the Devil. His infernal majesty gave his blessing to their deeds and even gave him and his second in command a monthly stipend! Neirs is also said to have gained supernatural powers. It is thought he was able to evade authorties for so long because he had a bag of magical potions which were said to make him invisible. Niers practiced black magic of which fetuses were a major component. They would make candles out of the flesh and fats of infants that when lit would allow them to rob houses unforseen. Niers, it is said, could also turn himself into an animal, rock or log.
A more modern take on his abilities was that he was a master of disguise going to great lengths to conceal himself and his identity. There were a number of disguises including a common soldier and a leper. Try as he may, he was caught for the final time in 1881. He was captured in a bath house with a bag full of baby hearts and limbs.
His execution was fitting and took three days. On the first day his body was stripped of flesh and scolding oil was poured into the wounds. On the second day, his feet was covered in hot oil and held over hot coals, roasting him. Lastly on day three, September 16 th 1581, he met the breaking wheel. His body was smashed to bits from forty-two blows of the wheel. Still alive, he was finally dismembered by quartering, another execution method popular with the times. A grisly end for a real monster.
The next hair raising fiend is Iceland's most notorious and quite possibly their only serial killer. Axlar-Björn was his name and he owned a farm on the Snæfellsnes peninsula in western Iceland. There he would snarl up passing travelers robbing them first and ultimately murdering them. This is where the line between folklore and fact blur some. He is said to have killed between nine and eighteen people depending on your source. He admitted to nine but was believed to have killed eighteen. He would steal thier money, clothes and horses and then hack them to death with an axe. He buried his first victim in a pile of cow manure at the cowshed of his arm and the rest were thrown into a leech-filled pond nearby.
Axlar-Björn was finally caught when one of two siblings he had captured escaped his farm and informed local authorties. He was sentenced to death in 1596. Iceland's most notorious serial killer was tortured, having his limbs broken, dismembered, decapitated and then had his genitals cut off and given to his wife. His wife was suspected as an accomplice but history shows she was never punished for anything related to the murders.
Last and certainly not least in this parade of horrors comes the persona known as Jasper Hanebuth. An illiterate farmer born in Groß-Buchholz, Germany, this man, like many of the others listed here from Germany, lived at a time of great darkness in the history of their land. Religious fanaticism, war and witchcraft trials ravaged Germany and it's people and as such, Jasper Hanebuth became the product of his surroundings. He enlisted in one of the armies serving Sweden as a mercenary during the religious Thirty Years War. It is during this conflict that he discovered and refined his skills as a killer. He roamed the Eilenriede, a wooded area of thecity of Hanover, like an evil Robin Hood robbing and killing whomever just happened to be in his sights.
During his reign as killer and robber baron, he even had set up a network of underground tunnels which he moved his spoils of war to sell to Hanoverian merchants achieving crime lord status in that part of the country. When he outright stole a competitors horse stock the man reported him to authorities and he confessed to ten thefts and nineteen murders. Like those before him, the raider Hanebuth was sentenced to death and was beaten to death on the breaking wheel on February 4 th , 1653.
What all these ghastly charchters have in common is that like Jack the Ripper, their thirst for blood has attained them cult status in today's world. Plays, poems, songs, movies and so forth have all been written about these killers. Unlike Jack the Ripper however, these monsters knew no boundries to their killing. Woman, children, even the unborn were victims of these ruthless savages. Four of these kings of horror met the kind of death they themselves handed out to others. The only female killer on the list however managed to evade the cruelty and pain she inflicted on others and cheated the executioner of a good day's work. History is saturated with the likes of people who crave this sort of evil. Who needs Frankenstein, The Walking Dead or Vampires to scare us at night while we watch a movie or read a book when we have very real and very living creatures out there just waiting for you. Monsters are real and they look just like you and me.
We are now looking for artists, writers and interviewers to take part in the world famous Serial Killer Magazine. If you are interested in joining our team, contact us at MADHATTERDESIGN@GMAIL.COM
We are now looking for high resolution scans of Serial Killer letters, death certificates, birth certificates and other interesting serial killer Murderabellia to be printed in future issues of Serial Killer Magazine. Anyone who submits high res scans of such items, will get full credit for their contribution. If you are interested, contact us at MADHATTERDESIGN@GMAIL.COM