In May of 1916, Martin Greschinsky arrived at his rental property at 9 Kossuth Street in the small, vacation town of Czinkota, Hungary just outside of Budapest to clean it out and see if any repairs needed to be made before it could be rented out again.
His tenant had been killed in World War I.
But, when Greschinsky pried open what he believed was a barrel of gasoline, he was met with the face of a woman who’d been dead for several years, perfectly preserved in wood alcohol.
As more and more bodies were discovered, detectives determined that they were dealing with a serial killer who’d preyed on wealthy women and who, even after death, managed to stay one step ahead of them and evade capture for decades.
On this episode, we discuss the gruesome crimes of the man who’d become known as the Vampire of Czinkota, Bela Kiss.
(1) Bela Kiss, taken circa 1914. (Source: Miami News – August 31, 1930)
(2) Katherine Varga, a dressmaker from Budapest who disappeared in 1912. (Source: New York Daily News – February 9, 2014)
(3) Margaret Toth, who disappeared in 1904 after her mother received a letter claiming that Kiss had broken off their engagement and, heartbroken, she was leaving for America. (Source: New York Daily News – February 9, 2014)
(4) The house (on left) that Kiss rented in Czinkota (Source: New York Daily News – February 9, 2014)
(5) The barrels and trunk in which the first bodies and clothing were found (Source: New York Daily News – February 9, 2014)
- The Seven Tin Barrels – In the Footsteps of the First Hungarian Serial Killer by Zsolt Viktor Maróti on Újkor.hu
This page is where information on Bela Kiss’s “first wife,” Julia Peschadik, who is referenced on his Wikipedia entry can be found. It indicates that she had given their two children to the White Cross before moving to Czinkota to be with Kiss, and was later found in one of the barrels (specifically, the one on the far right in the photo above). It is entirely possible that this information — and, with it, the information on Wikipedia that I’ve questioned — is correct. But, I’ve been unable to find other sources to corroborate it and Julia Peschadik’s name does not appear in contemporaneous newspaper accounts that document Kiss’s victims.
- When Cinkota was on the cover of the world press on The cloud above me
Warning: This page includes photos not only of the barrels and of the detectives opening them, but of several of the victims pulled from the barrels.
- The Crimes of Bela Kiss by Marilyn Bardsley and Denise Noe on CrimeLibrary.com (via Archive.org)