Vampire Killers and the First Vampire

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word vampire as "the reanimated body of a dead person believed to come from the grave at night and suck the blood of persons asleep." Since the word was first coined in 1734 the myth of the vampire has grown, entering into popular culture with the publication of Bram Stoker's {Dracula} in 1897 and more recently through the books of Anne Rice, the most famous of which, {Interview with a Vampire} was made into a film starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. But these are works of fiction. Still, myths do not just spring out of mid-air. Throughout the ages, human killers have been fascinated by the blood of their victims. Here are some of history's most notorious "vampire" killers.

The First Vampire

While she may not actually be the first, Hungarian Countess Erzebet Bathory is credited in many chronologies of vampire-related crime as the first person on record to be murderously motivated by blood. What's notable about her is that most killers with vampiric appetites are male, while Erzebet was female. She was also one of the most bloodthirsty "vampire killers" in history.

Legend has it, according to historian Raymond T. McNally in Dracula was a Woman, that she slapped a servant girl, got blood on her hand, and believed that it made her skin look younger. To restore her beauty, she then made a practice of bathing in the blood of virgins. Whether or not this part of the tale is true, she undoubtedly used her status to murder and torture untold numbers.

Born in 1560, Erzebet grew up experiencing uncontrollable seizures and rages. Eventually she married a sadistic man who taught her cruel methods by which to discipline the servants, such as spreading honey over a naked girl and leaving her out for the bugs. He also showed Erzebet how to beat them to the edge of their lives.

After he died in 1604, Erzebet moved to Vienna. She also stepped up her cruel and arbitrary beatings and was soon torturing and butchering the girls. She might stick pins into sensitive body parts, cut off someone's fingers, or beat her about the face until the bones broke. In the winter, women were dragged outside, doused with water, and left to freeze to death. Even when Erzebet was ill, she didn't stop. Instead she'd have girls brought to her bed so she could bite them.

It was only when she turned her blood-thirst to young noblewomen, that she got caught. After a murder in 1609 that Erzebet tried to stage as a suicide, the authorities decided to investigate. They arrested her the following year.

Erzebet went through two separate trials, and during the second one, a register in her own handwriting was discovered in her home that included the names of over 650 victims. Found guilty, she was imprisoned for life in a small room in her own castle, where she died three years later. It was afterward that rumors spread about how she'd bathed in the blood of her young victims.

In his book, McNally made the case that Bram Stoker was influenced by accounts of Bathory while writing Dracula, because in the novel the Count seemed to grow younger after taking the blood of young women.

Erzebet Bathory wasn't the only Hungarian to find blood appetizing. A few centuries later, a man with a name that belied his violent tendencies -- Bela Kiss -- discovered his own bloodlust.

The Kiss of Death

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.

The Monster of Dusseldorf

A necrophile, rapist, and killer, Peter Kürten targeted almost any vulnerable person. His mild manner charmed women and children alike, and in his confession, he claimed that he got his start when a neighbor taught him how to torture animals. He learned to stab them to death while he was raping them. Then when he was nine, he set up an "accident" in which two other boys died. He committed a number of petty crimes, for which he served time, and then he grew bolder. Richard Monaco and Bill Burt tell his story in The Dracula Syndrome.

In 1913, in the locked room of an inn at Koln-Mulheim in the Rhine River Valley, on the second floor, a 10-year-old girl was found murdered in bed. It appeared that she'd been disturbed while asleep and there were bruises on her neck. Upon closer inspection, investigators noticed two incisions on her throat, one shallow and the other deep. Next to the bed, the mat had absorbed a large amount of blood, but there was little on the bedclothes. Bruising around the victim's genitals indicated forced penetration but no semen was found. In addition, the autopsy found less blood in her body than should have been the case. Discovered at the crime scene was a handkerchief with initials, P.K., which matched the girl's father, but he denied ownership.

A suspect, the girl's uncle, was arrested but freed due to lack of evidence. There were no other suspects and the murder went unsolved.

Sixteen years passed without incident, and that's because Kürten was in prison for something else. When he came back to town, another young girl, this one only 8, was found nude and stuffed under a hedge. A week later, a 45-year-old mechanic was found dead next to a road, bleeding from 20 stab wounds, many of which had been to his temples.

Six months went by before two girls were murdered at the fair grounds. The five-year-old was manually strangled and her throat was cut. The 14-year-old was also strangled and then beheaded. Both were left lying a few feet apart near a footpath.

There were other attacks in which the victims survived, but then one night an adolescent girl was raped and battered to death with a hammer. Six weeks later, a 5-year-old child disappeared and a letter came to a local newspaper written by her killer. He offered a map to the body and police soon found the strangled, battered body. She's been stabbed 36 times. The letter also described the location of the corpse of another young woman who'd been missing for several months.

Citizens began to think they had a Satanic monster in their midst. Kürten and his wife were among those discussing the matter, so she was surprised when the police arrived one day to question her husband about an attempted rape.

Once he was in custody, Kürten confessed to everything. He explained that he'd committed numerous assaults and 13 murders, and admitted to drinking the blood from many of his victims because blood excited him. He'd once bitten the head off a swan, he stated, and ejaculated as he drank its blood. Looking back at the 1913 incident in the inn, Kürten described how he broke into the room, choked the girl, and cut her throat. He recalled how the blood had spurted into an arc over his head, which had excited him to orgasm, and then he drank some. It was his own handkerchief, with the initials, P.K. that had been found there.

There were other murders, he added, that inspired him to drink blood from throat wounds he made, and a couple of times he became sexually excited after taking a hatchet to a stranger.

At his trial, defense psychiatrists declared him insane, but the jury ignored them. He was sentenced on nine counts of murder to be executed in 1931. Just before dying, when some express remorse, Kürten expressed a desire to hear his own blood bubble forth after the blade came down.

Rogues Gallery

Throughout the ages, attacks on people have been attributed to supernatural creatures like werewolves and vampires, but in 1886, a German neurologist named Richard von Krafft-Ebing noted the compulsive and sexual presentation of the attacks. He wrote about them in Psychopathia Sexualis, and many of his 238 case histories concerned a violent eroticism triggered by blood.

What seems to inspire the psychopathic or psychotic mind is the aspect of dominance mixed with blood. Many sexually compulsive murderers have described their excitement over seeing a victim's blood.

One man described was a 24-year-old vine-dresser who murdered a 12-year-old girl, drank her blood, mutilated her genitals, and ate part of her heart. When caught, he confessed with indifference.

Another man would cut his arm for his wife to suck on because it aroused her so strongly.

"A great number of so-called lust murders," says Krafft-Ebing, "depend upon combined sexual hyperesthesia and parasthesia. As a result of this perverse coloring of the feelings, further acts of bestiality with the corpse may result." He also points out that it's generally accepted among experts on serial sex crimes that white males commit most of the truly perverse acts.

While there are several dozen so-called vampire killers, a brief list would include:

  • Martin Dumollard, who killed several girls in France in 1861 and drank their blood
  • Also in France, in 1897, Joseph Vacher drank blood from the necks of a dozen murder victims
  • Vincenzo Verzenia murdered two people in Italy to drink their blood
  • In 1878 in Milan, Eusebius Pieydagnelle killed six women when the smell of blood in a butcher's shop obsessed him. He became so excited by it that he'd go prowling for victims at night.
  • Fifteen women identified Argentinean Florencio Roque Fernandez as the man who broke into their bedrooms and drank their blood.
  • In Poland, Stanislav Modzieliewski was also identified by a woman he attacked, and he admitted that blood was delicious to him.
  • Also in Poland in 1982, Juan Koltrun was dubbed "the Podlaski Vampire" after killing two of his seven rape victims and drinking their blood.
  • In 1992 in Santa Cruz, California, Deborah Finch murdered Brandon McMichaels in what she called a suicide pact. She stabbed him 27 times and allegedly drank his blood.
  • Forty-year-old Rantao Antonio Cirillo of Milan attacked more than 40 women, one every two months over a seven year period from the late 1970's. He'd tie them up, rape them, and bite them on the neck.
  • In 1985, John Crutchley held a woman prisoner to take blood from her and drink it. After his arrest, it turned out that he'd been drinking blood from others for years.
  • Andrei Chikatilo, the "Forest Strip Vampire," called himself a "mistake of nature" and "a mad beast" after being arrested for the murders of over fifty people in the former Soviet Union from 1978 to 1990. He admitted to eating their body parts and drinking their blood.
  • Marcello de Andrade, 25, killed fourteen young boys in Rio de Janiero in 1991, sodomizing them and drinking their blood as a means of becoming as beautiful as they were. His youngest victim was six.
  • Magdalena Solis participated in a blood-drinking sex cult in Mexico. She helped to convince villagers in Yerba Buena that she was a goddess and orchestrated blood rituals that involved numerous murders. When the human sacrifices were discovered outside the village, police came in and rounded up the cult.


Countless killers during the 20th century have been inspired by the predatory and seductive manner of the most famous vampire in fiction and film, Count Dracula. Published in 1897 in England, the novel Dracula has never been out of print. According to vampire scholar Martin V. Riccardo, of the approximately 300 vampire movies made since Bela Lugosi played the bloodsucker on the silver screen in 1931, a third have been about the character of Dracula.

In Stoker's novel, Count Dracula comes to England from Transylvania in 1893 to enslave the country by creating an army of vampires. He starts with a young woman named Lucy, but when Professor Van Helsing, a scholar, recognizes the mark of the vampire bite on her neck, he destroys her after her death with certain rituals.

By that time, Dracula has already targeted his next victim, Mina Harker. He forces her to drink blood from him, while he also takes it from her. This connection with her is the start of his downfall. Van Helsing rallies a team of vampire hunters and uses trance induction with Mina to track Dracula's retreat back to Transylvania. The vampire hunters destroy the Count, along with the vampire women who reside in his castle.

The first major motion picture based on the novel 1931's Dracula presented the vampire as a charming, well-dressed man who captivates women and then gains entrance to their bedrooms at night to suck on their necks and kill them. He's also reputed to have the strength of 20 men and to be skilled in the occult. He can change his form at will to escape and he can see in the dark. The character of Dracula must be a powerful image for unstable minds that derive a certain violent sexual excitement from blood.

In fact, more than one killer has been nicknamed Dracula.

Richard Trenton Chase is a case in point. He drank other people's blood, he claimed, because he was afraid of disintegrating. He was institutionalized several times, as documented by former FBI agent Robert Ressler, who interviewed Chase, and by authors Ray Biondi and Walt Hecox in The Dracula Killer. He was preoccupied with any sign that something was wrong with him, and he once entered an emergency room looking for the person who had stolen his pulmonary artery. He also complained that the bones were coming out through the back of his head, his stomach was backwards, and his heart often stopped beating.

Finally he was committed as a schizophrenic suffering from somatic delusions. It was here that he earned the nickname, "Dracula," when nurses discovered him one day with blood around his mouth. Two dead birds, their necks broken, lay outside his window.

Eventually he was released and deemed no longer a danger. Chase moved into another apartment and began to catch and torture cats, dogs, and rabbits. He killed them to drink their blood.

Early in 1978, after he'd shot a man just to see what it was like, he walked into the home of Teresa Wallin, 22, and three months pregnant. He shot her twice and when she fell, he dragged her body to the bedroom. With a knife, he carved off her left nipple, cut open her torso, and stabbed her repeatedly. He also cut out her kidneys and severed her pancreas in two. He placed the kidneys together back inside her. Then he got a yogurt container from the trash and used it to drink her blood.

On January 27th Chase entered another home and killed Evelyn Miroth, 38, a male friend who was visiting her, and her six-year-old son, Jason. He also grabbed her infant son from his cradle, smashed the boy's head, and took the body with him when he left. Back at home, he removed the head and consumed several of the organs.

The police closed in and arrested him as he was leaving his apartment. In prison, he told another inmate that he needed the blood of his victims because of blood poisoning, and he'd grown tired of hunting for animals. He was convicted of six counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to be executed. Instead he died a few years later in his cell from a drug overdose.

Vampirism in Self Defense

James Riva claimed to hear the voice of a vampire in April, 1980, before he shot his grandmother four times with bullets that he had painted gold. He then tried to drink her blood from the wound in order to get eternal life. Finally, he set her corpse on fire. Carol Page documents his tale and includes her interview with Riva in Bloodlust: Conversations with Real Vampires.

To some degree, he claimed, it was self defense, because he was convinced she was drinking his blood while he was asleep. He believed that everyone was a vampire and that he needed to become like them. The secret, he was told by imaginary voices, was to kill someone and drink the blood. Afterward, the vampires would throw a party for him.

Fascinated with vampires since the age of 13, he drew pictures of violent acts and began to eat things with a blood-like consistency. He killed animals, including a horse (he says), to drink their blood. He also punched a friend in the nose and tried to spear another in order to get blood from them, and claimed that he had attacked strangers to get it, but didn't want to kill anyone. He kept an ax by his bedroom door and once told a psychiatrist he was going to kill his father.

Riva told a psychiatrist about the voices warning him to watch out for vampires. They said that he had to drink blood. He decided that his grandmother was using an ice pick at night to get his blood—although she was in a wheelchair. He also believed that she was poisoning his food. On the day that he killed her, he felt he was going to die.

A jury returned a verdict of second degree murder, with a life term. He stopped drinking blood in prison, he said, because he couldn't get enough and he thought his body, used to human tissue consumption, was metabolizing his.

Renfield's Syndrome

Psychiatrists are aware that there exists a behavior known as "clinical vampirism," which is a syndrome involving the delusion of actually being a vampire and feeling the need for blood. This arises not from fiction and film but from the erotic attraction to blood and the idea that it conveys certain powers, although the actual manifestation of the fantasy may be influenced by fiction. It develops through fantasies involving sexual excitement.

Psychologist Richard Noll, author of Bizarre Diseases of the Mind, says that the clinical cases have a lot in common with the behavior of a character from Dracula named Renfield. He's a mental patient who eats spiders and flies because he craves their life force. He suggests the clinical vampirism be renamed Renfield's Syndrome. Noting that people who suffer from this condition are primarily male, he identifies a specific set of stages.

"The first stage," Noll explains, "is some event that happens before puberty where the child is excited in a sexual way by some event that involves blood injury or the ingestion of blood. At puberty it becomes fused with sexual fantasies, and the typical person with Renfield Syndrome begins with autovampirism. That is, they begin to drink their own blood and then move on to other living creatures. That's what we know from the few cases we have on record. It has fetishistic and compulsive components."

Someone who seemed to have this syndrome was Neville Heath, 29, England's "Gentleman Vampire." During the 1940s, he would pose as an army officer to lure women to hotel rooms. On June 20, 1946, a cabdriver saw Heath in the company of Margery Gardner, 33, who was found murdered the next day. She'd been suffocated and whipped unmercifully by something with a metal tip. Her nipples were bitten off and she'd been brutally raped with a blunt instrument. While her body was covered in blood, her face was clean, although blood was in her nostrils.

Since Heath had signed his name to the hotel register for that room, the police went right away to question him. But he was already on the run.

He checked into another hotel at a seaside town and hung out there for two weeks, posing as a war hero. He met Doreen Marshall, 21, and escorted her for an evening stroll on July 4. She then turned up missing. Five days later, her nude body was found in some bushes. She'd been cut up with a knife and sexually violated.

Oddly enough, Heath went to the police to offer his help. He feigned innocence in the case of Doreen Marshall and said that his name was not Neville Heath, but the police detained him so they could search some of his belongings. They found a braided whip that matched the patterns found on the first murdered woman. Heath also had in his possession a blood-soaked scarf that matched her blood type. Another one turned up in his drawer at the seaside hotel and that was matched to Doreen Marshall's blood type.

Further investigation into his military record and personal history indicated that he'd participated in several incidents of sadistic behavior with women, although he was ever the gentleman with his naïve fiancé.

Arrested and tried for murder, Heath wanted to mount an insanity defense, but while the psychiatrists believed he was sadistic and perverted, they could not say that he was legally insane. Found guilty, he was sentenced to be executed.

While Heath may not have actually drunk blood from his victims (although there's speculation that he licked it off Margery Gardner's face), his possession of the blood-soaked handkerchiefs, along with the predatory and compulsive nature of his crimes, would qualify him for consideration as a clinical vampire.

The Power of Fantasy

On Thanksgiving Day 1996, Roderick Ferrell, 16, from Murray, Kentucky, led a pack of kids to Eustis, Florida, where he killed the elderly parents of a former girlfriend. Ferrell had lived in Eustis for a year and had then returned to Kentucky, where he'd gotten involved with a fantasy role-playing game called Vampire: The Masquerade. Since he wanted something more edgy, he formed The Vampire Clan. When Heather called him endlessly and asked for his help, he decided to go to Florida, make her part of his vampire coven, and take her away. Aphrodite Jones wrote a book in collaboration with Heather called The Embrace, while Clifford Linedecker worked on a similar project independently.

Somewhere along the line, Ferrell decided to kill the Wendorfs. He disclosed his plan to one of Heather's friends before he arrived at Heather's house in Eustis. While he and four other kids from Kentucky went out to a cemetery to exchange blood and "cross over" Heather into their vampire club, Ferrell figured out what he needed to do.

Heather remained with the two girls while Ferrell took Howard Scott Anderson with him to the Wendorf home. Inside, he clubbed the sleeping Richard Wendorf with a crowbar and then stabbed Naoma, Richard's wife, to death. On Richard's chest, Ferrell burned the shape of a "V" with some cigarettes. Then he and Scott went to meet the girls so they could run away to New Orleans.

One of the girls revealed their whereabouts to her parents and the police soon found and arrested them. Ferrell claimed that he was a powerful vampire and they wouldn't be able to hold him. He also blamed a rival vampire gang for the killings.

Even as prosecutors developed a capital murder case against him, Ferrell's mother, Sondra Gibson was indicted for allegedly writing sexually-explicit letters to a 14-year-old boy to entice him into a sexual initiation ritual. In the letters she stressed how she longed to become a vampire. She asked him to "cross me over and I will be your bride for eternity and you my sire." Gibson pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful transaction with a minor.

Since there is no "diminished capacity" law in Florida, the defense offered in pretrial motions the arguments to be advanced for mitigating the penalty phase. Among the points they raised were that Ferrell was mentally disturbed and had been allowed by his mother to participate in violent and self-destructive role-playing fantasy games, which impaired his judgment about what was real or normal. They claimed that he suffered from his beliefs in vampirism.

Apparently Ferrell had said that he had no soul and was possessed. He had devised vampire rituals that gave him an adrenaline rush. He liked to threaten others and make them believe that his vampire nature made him all-powerful. He believed there was a group of vampires that really existed and since they had chosen him, he had the power to do anything he pleased.

For him, role-playing a vampire had crossed over into the real word in a brutal manner and he soon found out that he was not only accountable for his psychopathic acts but was going to be executed.

While those who have been tried for their vampiric activities have looked into an insanity defense, it's clear that one man actually adopted vampirism after the fact as a means to plead insane.

Vampire Fraud

Serial killer John George Haigh knew the power of the monstrous image to incite horror into people's minds, and even today he is cited as a murderer who drank a cup of blood from his victims before getting rid of their bodies. He's found on nearly every list of "modern vampires," which attests to his own insight in just how far his legend would carry. However, there's no evidence that he had such a fetish and plenty of reason to believe that he was malingering a mental illness that would get him sent to a mental institution.

When he was arrested in England in 1949 for the possible murder of a missing woman, Haigh's first question concerned his chances of getting out of the local mental institution. Quite soon he launched into a detailed confession that involved killing six people in order to drink their blood. He said that he lured them into a storage area and then hit them over the head to kill them. Then he would cut open an artery in their throat and fill a cup with blood to drink it: Imbibing fresh blood made him feel better. Then he would dissolve the corpse in large drums filled with acid. He had to do this, he claimed. He couldn't help himself.

However, there's clear evidence that each crime was committed when Haigh was in debt and there's no evidence that he acted under a compulsion. In fact, 12 physicians examined him and only one thought he had an aberrant mental condition—egocentric paranoia. The others believed that he was making it all up.

It appears to have been a ploy to shock the public into accepting that he could only be mentally ill so that he might avoid the death penalty. He had posed before as a doctor, a lawyer, and an engineer when it suited his purposes. In this case, he posed as a psychotic person who drank blood.

But it didn't work. As he awaited his execution in prison, three more psychiatrists examined him and they still could find no evidence that he had a blood-drinking compulsion.

While it was unlikely that Haigh was psychotic when he killed his victims, there are some whose psychotic manifestations are indeed directed by what they know about vampires. Let's take a look.

Recent Attacks

In San Francisco in 1998, Joshua Rudiger, 22, claimed to be a 2,000-year-old vampire and went about the city slashing the necks of vulnerable homeless people with a knife. He hurt three men and killed a woman sleeping in a doorway, and when one victim's identification led to his arrest, he claimed that he needed to drink human blood. The woman indeed died from a lack of blood.

"Prey is prey," he told investigators.

Rudiger proved to have a history of mental illness, having claimed alternately to be a vampire and a ninja warrior, and had once attempted suicide with a Samurai sword. Dr. Paul Good, who testified in his case, discovered that he'd been diagnosed at the age of four as psychotic. Rudiger went into foster homes and psychiatric hospitals, where he would lick the chests of other patients. Before he was 18, he told a therapist that he was going to be a vampire and suck out the blood of the people around him.

Allowed to leave when he was 18, he was definitely not cured. In 1997, after attacking a friend with a bow and arrow, Rudiger was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Although his attorney entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for the homeless woman's death, Rudiger was found guilty of second-degree murder. Despite the attorney's request that he be sent to a psychiatric hospital for treatment, he got 23 years to life in prison.

More recently than Rudiger's case is an example of two mentally unstable people role-playing as vampires and encouraging each other's violence.

In early 2002, a couple who met through a heavy metal rock magazine ad were tried in Bochum, Germany for killing a friend in what appeared to be a Satanic ritual. Manuela Ruda, 23, and her husband Daniel, 26, stabbed Frank Haagen 66 times, beat him with hammers, drank his blood, and left his decomposing body next to the coffin in which Manuela liked to sleep. A scalpel protruded from his stomach and a pentagram was carved onto his chest.

They then drove around awaiting Satan's next order and armed themselves with a chainsaw, just to be "prepared." They were arrested at a gas station.

In court, Manuela claimed that she'd gotten a taste for vampirism when she encountered vampire cults in Britain. With "willing donors" contacted on the Internet, she had learned to drink blood at "bite parties." They would bite all parts of the body except the jugular, which was strictly forbidden. Then Manuela delivered her soul to Satan, who had ordered the "sacrifice" in what she described as an aura of light and energy. She and her husband did commit the crime with which they were accused, they admitted, but they were not responsible. They were merely Satan's instruments and had to "make sure the victim suffered well."

Forensic psychiatrist Norbert Leygraf assessed them and said they were severely disturbed and could kill again. He recommended that they be kept in a secure institution.

A Most Vicious Vampire

One of the worst cases of clinical vampirism is that of Fritz Haarmann, also known as Germany's "Hanover Vampire." Haarmann was actually institutionalized at one point during the late 1800s, but he managed to escape. Eventually he became a homeless vagrant. Then he learned to butcher meat, which allowed him to have a home and start a business. Having his own place protected his attack on boys.

He would seek wandering waifs in the train station and take them home. Soon he teamed up with a good-looking male prostitute named Graf who had much better luck. They'd take the boys to Haarman's home, feed them, and then Haarman would force them to have sex. Often those victims would simply vanish. Once the police caught Haarman in the act and arrested him for molestation. They had no idea that he'd murdered another boy and had his head sitting there under some newspapers.

Together Graf and Haarman trapped and killed an estimated 50 young men over a five-year period. They were finally stopped when someone found a sack of skulls and bones in the Leine Canal and turned them into the police. Since Haarmann lived near the canal and had been arrested before, investigators searched his home, They found clothing from missing boys and saw bloodstains on the walls. Again, they arrested Haarmann and he confessed.

As he talked, he called his victims "game." He described how he would grab the boys, sleepy from a large meal, and while sodomizing them would chew through their throat until the head was practically severed from the body. As he tasted their blood, he achieved orgasm. He would then cut the flesh from their bodies, consume some of it, and sell the rest on the open market as butchered meat. The rest of the parts he dumped into the canal.

Armed with grisly evidence for 27 of the murders, investigators ensured Haarmann's conviction and he was sentenced to die by execution. Moments before the blade fell, Haarmann announced that this was his wedding.

Forensic Evidence

Forensic odontologists can match the bite mark impressions on a body against the teeth of a suspect to decide if there's a match. Ted Bundy was convicted of murder with such evidence, and so was Wayne Boden.

A young schoolteacher, Norma Vaillancourt, was found murdered in 1968 in her apartment in Montreal, Canada. She'd been strangled, raped, and bitten all over her breasts. The crime was sadistic, but among her many boyfriends, there were no good suspects.

Only a day later, another victim was found in the same city in the same condition, and the bite marks were matched. Both women appeared not to have struggled, so it was assumed that they not only knew their attacker but may also have been engaged in something they wanted to do. It was similar to the way a vampire might seduce someone with a hypnotic trance before taking his meal.

In 1969, Marielle Archambault told coworkers that she felt entranced by a man she'd recently met. She, too, turned up dead, and similarly bitten. However, she had put up a struggle.

There were two more victims, one of them in Calgary, before the vampire was stopped in 1971. The police arrested Boden and an odontologist took an impression of his teeth to match to the wounds on each of the victims. The forensic expert had a fairly easy time of it, since there were so many different impressions to use.

Obviously caught, Boden finally admitted that he had killed these women while having rough sex. He would strangle them and then become frenzied with the need to feast on their breasts. Apparently, he figured, he just did it too hard.

Influenced by Fiction

Allan Menzies, 22, used to view the vampire film, Queen of the Damned, over and over and over. He admitted that he had obsessively watched his "queen," Akasha, more than 100 times. His fixation on her and his beliefs about how this cruel vampire stepped out of the role and into his life to barter for his soul eventually turned deadly. Menzie's vampire-inspired crime and trial were covered extensively by The Scotsman, as well as by newspapers throughout Great Britain. Both movie critics and religious writers have offered comments and interpretations.

Akasha, played by the late actress Aaliyah, is depicted in Queen of the Damned, a film based on Anne Rice's novel of the same name, as the ultimate vampire progenitor. She's also a vicious blood hunter with no remorse.

In the novel, Akasha was an ancient Egyptian queen whose jealousy of the powers of twin witches over a spirit led the spirit to infuse her with its own essence, which carried a powerful thirst for blood. The spirit fused with her heart and brain to mutate her into the first vampire. As Akasha transformed her husband and then turned on others, the "Dark Gift" of blood-spawned immortality spread, and all other vampires were thereby connected to her. Through successive generations and throughout the world, Akasha was the life force of all vampires. Although she eventually went into a stupor, she was revived during the 1980s by the rock songs of the vampire Lestat, and she went out and destroyed most of the world's vampires. Then she started killing mass numbers of humans to feed her pathological need. She demanded more and more blood.

Allan Menzies' best friend, Thomas McKendrick, brought this film over one day, and they watched it together. Then Menzies, who lived in Fauldhouse, West Lothian, in Scotland, borrowed it. He was soon hooked on viewing it every day, sometimes three times a day. Akasha became real, as did other vampires, and he began to call himself "Leon."

Menzies believed that Akasha made regular visits to him and had made a deal to grant him immortality in exchange for killing people to deliver their souls. He spent a lot of time alone in his room and his father could hear him talking to himself and sometimes yelling at no one. Menzies appeared to be changing into someone his father barely knew. "All Allan's talk," Thomas Menzies later said, "was about vampires, the games and blood. It was not normal conversation."

Then Thomas McKendrick disappeared. He was last seen when he visited the Menzies on December 11, 2002. Menzies' father came home that day and noticed spots of blood in various places around the house. That worried him, but Allan told him it had come from cutting himself on a can. Thomas Menzies told police that McKendrick had indeed come over on December 11, but that was the last time he'd seen him.

But then Allan Menzies approached McKendrick's mother in a supermarket, according to Religion News, to ask her if she knew how to remove bloodstains.

The police viewed him as a viable suspect in McKendrick's disappearance, but without evidence, there was nothing they could do.

On January 4, McKendrick's clothing was found in a bag on the moors, so two days later, the police searched the Menzies' home. After they talked with Allan, he took an overdose of drugs and ended up in the hospital for two days.

Then on January 18, 2003, McKendrick's remains were found buried in a shallow grave. The pathology report indicated that he had been stabbed 42 times with a large knife in the face, head, and body, and bludgeoned over the head six times (some reports say ten) with a hammer-like instrument. The attack, the pathologist commented, had been carried out for a prolonged period of time, and he had been hit in the head quite forcefully.

Under questioning, Menzies admitted that he had eaten part of his friend's head and drunk his blood. He said that he had signed an Anne Rice novel with the name, "Vamp," and explained that he had decided to sell his soul to be born into another life, another form. Only later at his trial did he describe the full measure of his atrocity -— as well as deny that he was to blame.

Menzies tried to plead guilty to culpable homicide on the grounds of diminished capacity, but the Crown rejected it and ordered him to stand trial. That proceeding began in October 2003, before the High Court in Edinburgh. It was clear that Menzies, an unemployed former security guard, now believed that what he had done was "mad." He had not been in his right mind. He cast the blame on an alter ego, developed under the influence of the film, and said he wished he had never seen it. Psychiatrists on both sides had to evaluate his mental state at the time of the offense.

Menzies took the stand in his defense. He told the High Court that on December 11, McKendrick had made the fatal error of insulting Akasha. That's what had made Menzies "snap," he claimed. This all had occurred after he had begun buying ox livers and eating them raw to get their blood, and he'd listened to the songs from Queen of the Damned repetitively to develop into a vampire. "I could never get the thought of being a vampire out of my mind," he said. "To put it bluntly, after I had seen the tape so many times, I wanted to go out and murder people."

Donald McCleod, his defense attorney, asked him if he believed he was now a vampire and had achieved immortality. To both questions, he answered, "Yes."

McKendrick allegedly had made an incredulous remark about Menzies' belief in vampires, as well as a sexual comment about the actress playing Akasha. "He should never have insulted my bird," Menzies had told his attorney.

In court he told the full story. The two young men were standing in the kitchen of Menzies' home, where Menzies kept a Bowie knife used for cutting ox livers. Then McKendrick made his remark. Menzies said that Akasha, who was "there" in the kitchen, turned her back to indicate her displeasure, so Menzies stabbed McKendrick three or four times in the neck. Then he continued to stab him in the face, shoulders, and neck, using both a Bowie knife and a kitchen knife. McKendrick ran from the room and went up the steps to Menzies' bedroom, so Menzies grabbed a hammer and went after him, striking him on the head until he collapsed. Akasha, he said, was with him at all times, fully approving of what he was doing.

He then turned the body on its side to drain some blood out and drank two cupfuls of it. He also consumed part of the skull, which had broken from the blows. Afterward, he looked into the mirror to ensure that his teeth were covered with blood. Akasha was pleased with this death, he reported, and wanted him to do it again. The only way to please her, Menzies explained, was to kill.

To get rid of the body, Menzies took it in a wheeled cart into the woods and buried it.

He had no remorse at the time, he said, because "I knew I had to murder somebody. If you don't murder anybody, you can't become a vampire." He believed that imbibing the blood sealed his pact with Akasha. In court, he offered the excuse that he'd been angry, so he'd acted out. (To his aunt, he had confided while in the hospital that he was acting out against God.) His sudden frenzy, he believed, had come from his delusions at the time.

Yet "snapping" was not altogether inconsistent with Menzies' history. At the age of 14, he had stabbed a classmate and had received a sentence of three years in juvenile detention for that. He said he'd been bullied and had defended himself. Yet others knew him as sadistic. He also had a reputation for obsession with violence, and had described to psychiatrists a fantasy life involving Nazis and serial killers. Since the age of 18, according to associates, he'd been obsessed with vampires, and in 2001 he had shown enthusiasm about a crime committed in Wales in which a young man had killed an older woman to drink her blood to become a vampire.

Dr. Derek Chiswick, one of the three psychiatrists for the Crown who diagnosed Menzies as a psychopath, said he was emotionally disturbed but not mentally ill, and that he was probably faking how extreme his obsession was in order to get a lighter sentence. "I suspect his enjoyment of violence," he added, "is the principal factor in the prolonged and excessively violent nature of this crime."

In fact, from prison, Menzies had been sending letters to himself at his father's house, written by fantasy characters. One from "Vamp," signed in blood, was written to Akasha with a vow to kill again. Those letters appeared to be a calculated attempt to make himself look mentally ill.

Nevertheless, Menzies claimed, it was "Vamp" who had actually done the killing. It was not he who had written in the pages of a novel, "I have chosen to become a vampire. The blood is the life, I have drunk the blood and it shall be mine, for I have seen the horror." That was his alter ego, which he had acquired in the act of killing. Defense psychiatrist Alexander Cooper supported that with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. The delusions had the quality of hallucinations.

The judge picked up on that and explained to the jury that they needed to determine whether Menzies was lying or authentically hallucinating at the time he murdered Thomas McKendrick.

The jury deliberated for an hour and a half. They did not accept the excuse of diminished responsibility in this case. Instead, they returned a unanimous verdict that Menzies was guilty of murder.

The judge gave him a minimum sentence of 18 years, declaring him an outright psychopath---evil, merciless, and dangerous.

When asked if he wished he could turn back time and have the choice not to have killed his friend, he said, "No."

His grieving father quickly put the house on the market.

Vampires as Victims

As vampires gain in popularity, they start to appeal to a different kind of person as well: the self-styled vampire hunter. The long-running popular television show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, about a group of teenaged vampire fighters in California, has influenced this subculture. While for many, it's just role-playing, some take this game with deadly seriousness.

On March 12, 2004, Timothy White was arrested outside a church in Jacksonville, Florida for shooting a co-worker twice at a Westside Domino's pizza delivery store. He was reputed to be a born-again, Bible-reading Christian with an obsession with vampires and zombies. Allegedly he believed the victim, David Harrison, was a vampire and that he, White, was a vampire slayer. He shot Harrison, 22, in the face and stomach. Then he left, but before the shooting, a witness had spotted him lingering outside the store. Asked why he was there, he replied that he was "vampire hunting."

When taken into custody, he was armed with a knife, a sawed-off shotgun, and three pistols. He had no criminal record, but some people said that he kept to himself. His victim had actually been a long-time friend. Since Harrison was wounded and did not die, White was charged with aggravated battery with a criminal weapon.


In Colorado, Kirk Palmer, 28, killed Antonia Vierira with a shotgun because he believed that Vierira had turned his girlfriend into a vampire. He was charged with murder, but testimony at his trial supported the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. He had told a psychologist that four days before the shooting in July 2001, he had removed a splinter from his girlfriend's thumb and "saw" Vierira come out of her body to tell him that she had been bitten and was now a member of his vampire gang. Enraged, he had tried to combat Vierira the only way he could—by killing him.

Directly after the homicide, he had gone to Canada to "cleanse his spirit."

On March 10, 2004, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity and sentenced to a mental hospital in Pueblo.

Superstition Rules: Death, Murder, and Vampire Hunters

Although it's generally vampires who are considered deadly, those who hunt them down can be just as lethal, as the following modern-day stories reveal.

In Australia, Shane Chartres-Abbott, 28, was executed in his home in June 2003. He was a male prostitute, and apparently his killers were a pair of hit men. Chartres-Abbott was on trial for rape, and just as its fifth day was about to commence, he was found murdered. At the trial, he claimed he was a vampire, and among the charges was that, during the rape, he had bitten off the tongue of a female client. He also said he drank people's blood. The identity of the suspects is still unknown, but the speculation is that they were hired either by the victim or by clients who feared being exposed. In any event, that supposed vampire was stopped.

Across the world, in Blantyre, Malawi, a small nation in southeastern Africa, government officials were faced with an epidemic of rumors that vampires were attacking several different settlements, according to The New York Times. In early December 2002, some villagers beat a man to death on the suspicion that he was a vampire, others attacked three Roman Catholic priests passing through, while another contingent destroyed the tent encampment for an aid group drilling wells for drinking water. They believed it was the headquarters for the vampires.

Apparently the rumors began when President Bakili Muluzi made a bargain to trade human blood assistance for food to mitigate the severe hunger crisis. People thought the government was in collusion with vampires, sending the vampires out to collect the blood. Officials were then sent out to target villages to calm these fears and demonstrate that there are no vampires. But that did not stop villagers from taking the defensive, perhaps because they already felt so defenseless against hunger and AIDS. Some had also heard about people being attacked by vampires, so the government's reassurances were unconvincing. Apparently the aid group had sprayed something into the air that adversely affected one woman, so she had beat a drum to alert others to the danger, and they had run out and retaliated. Eventually the region settled down.

While some people kill vampires outright, others just take precautions.

In 2002, Nicolae Mihut, living in Transylvania, believed that his mother, who had just died, had become a vampire. A local priest had warned him about the signs: a cat had jumped over her coffin that day, and her cheeks and lips were quite red. Mihut knew that, to release her soul, he had to stab her with a silver knife, either in the chest or the stomach. So he plunged the dagger into her heart. He knew he had done the right thing when he heard a long sigh escape her. Then she became pale. That made everyone involved feel better, and she was buried.

More recently in Martotinu de Sus, Romania, a village of some 300 people southwest of Bucharest, a relative of Toma Petre exhumed his body from the grave, removed his heart to burn, and mixed the ashes with water. He then gave it to three people to drink. It was a routine ritual for that town for slaying suspected vampires, but then something unintended occurred.

The police got involved. They heard about it and they came to investigate. It seems that slaying vampires in that area is illegal. It was considered, according to journalist Matthew Scofield for The Philadelphia Inquirer, an incident of "re-killing."

But the dead man's relatives could not understand. They believed that, by killing this vampire and making certain he could not rise from his grave, they had saved lives the vampire was trying to take. Yet the Romanian police say that, since vampires are mythological creatures, what the Petre relatives had done was a form of corpse abuse known as disturbing the peace of the dead. That carried a three-year stint in prison.

In addition, if this case was so routine for this family, others in the area were probably doing something similar, so a wider investigation was called for. In fact, other villagers acknowledged to reporters that it was occurring quite frequently, not just there but in other villages. Apparently they believed that most families at one time or another had engendered at least one vampire, and they had learned from childhood how to defend themselves.

One can tell when someone has become a vampire, according to their ideas, by digging up the coffin and checking the body's position. It may have rolled to the side, in which case the person could not have been dead. In addition, there will be no decomposition, but bloody fluid will be present around the mouth.

Once a vampire has risen from the grave to feed on the living, he or she must be stopped. That is, the heart must be removed, burned, mixed with water and given to relatives who have fallen ill.

In this case, after Petre was buried, three of his relatives grew ill. Upon opening the grave and coffin, Petre was found on his side, with blood on his mouth. Once the heart was burned--and it allegedly sang as it was trapped and decimated--those who were ill grew better, which was proof enough that they had done the right thing.

Whether it's murder or corpse abuse, people who fear supernatural monsters may act out in whatever way seems necessary for protection. To them it's not a crime.

Vampire Witch

In the Ukraine in March, 2005 Diana Semenuha, 29, was arrested after police discovered that she had lured street children to her home to drink their blood. She admitted to the deed. Apparently, she believed that this practice could thwart a muscle-wasting condition she had, but her crime appears to have a different agenda as well. As reported in the Odessa press, which dubbed Semenuha "the vampire witch," she invited the children in with promises of food and a bed, gave them alcohol and had them sniff glue to make them pliable, and then bled them. Whatever she did not use herself, she sold to practitioners of black magic who participated with her in the Black Sea port's occult network. Once a blood source weakened, she moved the child back out to the streets and found a replacement.

The police were tipped off about this and raided her Odessa apartment. The place was painted entirely in black, the windows covered with black cloth, and the lighting done with black candles. Strapped into beds were seven children, all of them drugged. The raid also turned up a large knife and a silver goblet engraved with symbols believed to be for witchcraft. In fact, upon her arrest, Semenuha offered "witch" as her occupation. During the subsequent investigation, after Semenuha admitted that she took blood from the children, it was learned that she taught witchcraft to others and allowed her students to drink blood from her. She did not view what she was doing as a crime, since there was a fair exchange and no force or violence. Since she had fed the children and given them shelter, she believed she had paid for their blood.

One male child reported that he actually saw Semenuha drink his blood. She let him sniff glue and then used a syringe to draw blood from his hand. He said that as she muttered in a language he did not understand, she then squirted the blood into a silver bowl and consumed it.

The seven children who were rescued from her home disappeared into the streets again, making the case against the vampire witch difficult to prosecute.

Canadian Vampire Plot

A case in Canada that acquired the moniker, "the vampire murder" during the trial seems to have less to do with vampires than with the public's fascination with vampire-related crimes.

In Toronto on November 25, 2003, a twelve-year-old boy was found in the crawl space of the basement of his home, murdered and nearly drained of blood. He had been bludgeoned, stabbed and hacked seventy-one times, and his older brother, 16, and two friends were arrested and tried for first-degree murder. Since they were all juveniles, they could not be named in press reports, but during the trial the victim was dubbed "Jonathan." The trial had run for three months, with startling testimony from the girlfriend of one of the accused, and was already in jury deliberations when the whole thing was derailed in February 2005 by a reporter's discovery.

The girl's testimony had centered around one of the boys being affiliated with a vampire subculture and she offered evidence from a taped phone call that the grisly murder had been planned. On the tape, made shortly before Jonathan was murdered, the boy said that they planned to kill the entire family. After Jonathan was bludgeoned and stabbed, one boy fled and the brother and other accomplice allegedly attempted to kill the step-father with a baseball bat. They were both charged with attempted murder.

Defense attorneys for the two accomplices insisted that the phone call to the girl had not been serious, and the fact that the murder had occurred shortly thereafter was only a coincidence. They contended that Jonathan's brother had acted alone in a fit of rage. The alleged accomplice said that his call to the girl to discuss the killing was an attempt to impress her, because she wanted to break up with him. He claimed that he'd said similar things to impress other girls. He was joking as well when he referred to himself as a vampire and drank blood with girlfriends before having sex.

Still, the situation looked bleak for these boys as the jury went into deliberations. But then a reported from the National Post came across a Web site,, on which the girl had kept a blog and posted comments throughout the trial. Although she had testified that she had gone along with the boy's vampire fetish to be involved with him but had thought it childish, her vulgar online comments indicated that in fact she bore a fondness for blood, pain, and cemeteries, and hated people.

When the contents of the Web site were revealed, the judge noted that the veracity of the witness's testimony was now in doubt, and declared a mistrial. Legal commentators said that personal Web logs (known as Blogs) on the Internet add a new dimension to criminal trials. Things get exposed that could affect evidence or jury deliberations. Prior to going back to court for a new trial, the prosecutors in this case will have to evaluate whether the girl's Web postings are sincere and, if so, just how they may undermine her testimony.

You have a friend in Pennsylvania

Lisa Manderach was three weeks short of her thirtieth birthday when she went for a quick errand to Your Kidz & Mine, a new children's clothing store in Collegeville, Pennsylvania on September 10, 1995. She took her daughter, Devon, only nineteen months old, and that was the last time anyone saw either of them alive. The details of this case are from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Since Lisa's husband knew where she had gone, he sent the police to the store, where they found her car parked outside. They searched the premises and found a stash of pornography, stains that looked like blood, long black hairs consistent with the missing woman (including a few in the vacuum cleaner bag), and peepholes drilled into the dressing rooms. Caleb Fairley, 21, had been minding the store for his mother. When located, he presented an even better suspect: His face was covered with fresh scratches. He said he'd gotten them in the scramble of a "mosh pit" at a local club called the Asylum, but a doctor's examination indicated they were from fingernails. He was arrested.

By that time, Devon's body had already been found by hikers, strangled and dumped on a hill at the Valley Forge National Park, but Lisa was not with her. Fairley's defense attorney cut a smart deal: take the death penalty off the table and my client will tell you where he dumped the murdered woman. The DA accepted it, because the sooner they found her, he knew, the more likely it was that they could get evidence to ensure that Fairley never walked out of prison. Even so, the decision haunted him and drew quick criticism. Some people believed that Lisa would have been found quickly without the deal.

Fairley showed them where he had placed the body behind an abandoned industrial building in a wooded area of King of Prussia. From the exposed position, it was assumed that Lisa had been sexually assaulted. She was taken for an autopsy.

The media was quick to learn about Fairley's dark background. He'd played Dungeons & Dragons, had groped or propositioned women, was known to read pornography avidly, and collected vampire paraphernalia. He'd also joined the Asylum, a members-only nightclub that resembled a padded cell and catered to people who dressed in Goth-style clothing and sported dramatic make-up as part of the vampire subculture. The place regularly hosted vampire live action role-playing games, such as Vampire: The Masquerade (and club members interviewed by the media pointed out that they were being unfairly stigmatized because of one person's sickness). Overweight, Fairley had often been a target of ridicule, especially from girls at school, and tended to keep to himself. He'd once been close to his younger brother, who had accidentally shot himself when he was four, and Fairley had told some people that he felt empty and lost.

After his arrest, a stain on his shirt was tested and found via DNA analysis to be a match for Lisa Manderach. Stains at the store on different carpets matched mother and daughter, and tissue found underneath Manderach's fingernails matched Fairley's DNA. Prosecutors surmised that Fairley had tried to rape Lisa after she entered the store, she had struggled and scratched him, so he had strangled her. (He had so much as admitted that her resistance had made him blindingly angry.) He then killed Devon and took both bodies to remote areas to dump.

Fairley was tried in April 1996 and convicted on two counts of first-degree murder. He received two life terms. Those acquainted with him could hardly believe that he could have harbored such violence, but his indulgence in pornography and vampire fantasies, coupled with his frustration over his helplessness around women, is all too often a formula for such violence of opportunity.


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The Author

Katherine Ramsland, Ph.D. has published twenty-five books. She holds graduate degrees in forensic psychology, clinical psychology, and philosophy. Currently she teaches forensic psychology at DeSales University in Pennsylvania. After publishing two books in psychology, Engaging the Immediate and The Art of Learning, she wrote Prism of the Night: A Biography of Anne Rice. At that time, she had a cover story in Psychology Today on our culture's fascination with vampires. Then she wrote guidebooks to Anne Rice's fictional worlds: The Vampire Companion: The Official Guide to Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, The Witches' Companion: The Official Guide to Anne Rice's Lives of the Mayfair Witches, The Roquelaure Reader: A Companion to Anne Rice's Erotica, and The Anne Rice Reader. Her next book was Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography, and then she ventured into journalism with a two-year investigation of the vampire subculture, to write Piercing the Darkness: Undercover with Vampires in America Today. Following that was Ghost, Cemetery Stories, and The Science of Vampires. She has also written for The New York Times Book Review, The Writer, The Newark Star Ledger, Publishers Weekly, and The Trenton Times.

Her background in forensic studies positioned her to assist former FBI profiler John Douglas on his book, The Cases that Haunt Us, and to co-write a book with former FBI profiler, Gregg McCrary, The Unknown Darkness. She has also written The Forensic Science of CSI, The Criminal Mind: A Writer's Guide to Forensic Psychology, The Science of Cold Case Files, and Inside the Minds of Mass Murderers and she pens editorials on breaking forensic cases for The Philadelphia Inquirer. Recently, she co-wrote A Voice for the Dead with James E. Starrs on his exhumation projects, and became part of the team. She also contributes regularly to Court TV's Crime Library and has written nearly three hundred articles about serial killers, forensic psychology, and forensic science. Her latest book is The Human Predator: A Historical Chronicle of Serial Murder and Forensic Investigation.

Author: Katherine Ramsland
Source: CourtTV / Crime Library


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