The most prolific female murderer and the most prolific murderer of the western world was Elizabeth Báthory, who murdered girls and young women. She is alleged to have killed more than 600 virgins in order to drink their blood and bathe in it, ostensibly to preserve her youth. This story quickly became a part of folklore as the bloodlust tendencies are considered unreliable.
After she married a count in 1575, he built her a torture chamber in their castle where Báthory enjoyed “jamming pins and needles under the fingernails of her servant girls, and tying them down, smearing them with honey, and leaving them to be attacked by bees and ants.” Abductions were said to have occurred as well. The atrocities described most consistently included severe beatings; burning or mutilation of hands; biting the flesh off the faces, arms, and other body parts; freezing or starving to death. Additionally, the girls were burned with hot tongs and then placed in freezing cold water. Báthory was also suspected of cannibalism.
After she moved on from servant girls to targeting the daughters of local nobles, Báthory’s crimes were discovered and she was convicted for 80 counts of murder (although she may have killed more than 600 women) in 1611 and confined to a room of the castle that is said to have only had slits for food and air. She died three years later in 1614.
Báthory has been labelled by Guinness World Records as the most prolific female murderer, though the precise number of her victims is debated. The highest number of victims cited during Báthory’s trial was 650. However, this number comes from the claim by a servant girl named Susannah. Despite the evidence against Báthory, her family’s importance kept her from facing execution.
The stories of Báthory’s sadistic serial murders are verified by the testimony of more than 300 witnesses and survivors as well as physical evidence and the presence of horribly mutilated dead, dying, and imprisoned girls found at the time of her arrest. Some witnesses named relatives who died. Others reported having seen traces of torture on dead bodies, some of which were buried in graveyards, and others in unmarked locations.