According to stereotypes, Italian mothers and grandmothers, caring and loving, always make sure that their children are well fed and treated kindly. Well, Leonarda Cianciulli was clearly from a different test. Of course, she adored her children, but when in 1939 she found out that they wanted to take her eldest and most beloved son into the army, she decided that human sacrifices were necessary to save him.
Between 1939 and 1940, this strange woman sent three innocent ladies to the next world. The scheme was always the same: Leonarda lured lonely neighbors to her, drank wine and drugs, and then killed with an ax. The corpses were dismembered and dissolved with caustic soda, after which she boiled soap from the remains. And the blood was used to make cupcakes, which she treated to relatives and neighbors. For her murders, Cianciulli received 30 years in prison and three years in a mental hospital for criminals.
It is not clear at what point in her tragic life, full of superstitions and mysticism, this unfortunate woman went mad, but she entered the history of criminal Italy forever.
Known by the nickname Soap Man of Correggio, Leonarda Cianciulli was born in 1894. Her childhood was more than unhappy: the girl was born as a result of the rape of her mother, who, according to Leonarda's recollections, always hated her with all her heart. As a teenager, Leonarda tried to commit suicide twice. Later, she explained all her failures in life by the fact that her mother put a curse on her.
In 1914, she married a petty official, Raffaele Pansardi, who was frowned upon by her parents as they held a higher position in society. Cianciulli claimed that it was after the wedding that her mother cursed her and doomed her to a life of suffering.
Leonard in his youth
Of course, there was no evidence of the curse, but it's hard not to believe in it when you look at Cianciulli's life after marriage. A few years after her marriage, Cianciulli's husband was imprisoned for fraud, and three years later her house was destroyed by an earthquake. After that, the couple left for Correggio, where Cianciulli opened a small store and earned an excellent reputation as a good, affectionate woman, caring mother and sweet neighbor.
During the marriage, Leonard became pregnant 17 times, of which three pregnancies ended in miscarriages, and ten children died at a young age. Before that, a superstitious woman was with a fortune-teller, who told her that she would get married, but all her children would die one after another. That is why she protected the four survivors in every possible way. Cianciulli later went to see a palmist, who did nothing to overcome the woman's fear of being cursed.
“I see a prison on your right hand,” the palmist told her. "On your left arm is a mental hospital."
Under the pressure of the curse, which, in her opinion, was imposed by her mother, and the predictions of Leonardo, Cianciulli became very superstitious. Perhaps, if her life were not so filled with superstitions, curses and fortune-tellers, she would never kill.
In 1939, the woman learned that her eldest and most beloved son, Giuseppe, was to join the Italian army. Determined to protect him at all costs, Cianciulli suddenly decided that this required human sacrifice - and chose three of her neighbors, middle-aged women. Some sources claim that Leonarda herself was engaged in divination, and these ladies came to her for advice; others say that the women came to her just like a neighbor. Be that as it may, she began planning to kill them.
Three victims of Leonarda Cianciulli
It all started when the spinster Faustina Setti turned to Cianciulli to help her find a husband. Leonarda said that a suitable candidate was waiting for her in the city of Paula and she needed to go there, having previously informed her family and friends that she was leaving and that everything was just fine with her. For her "services" Leonarda took 30 thousand lire from Setty, almost all the woman's savings.
On the day of her departure, Setty came to visit Cianciulli to say goodbye, and agreed to have a glass of wine, not knowing that there was a drug involved. Leonarda killed the naive woman with an ax and cut her corpse into nine pieces, collecting all the blood in a basin. Later, in her memoirs, Cianciulli described what happened next:
“I threw the pieces into a large pot, added seven kilograms of caustic soda, which I bought to make soap. Then I stirred the mixture until everything turned into a dense dark mass, which I poured into several buckets. It turned out to be a good soap. As for the blood in the bathroom, I waited for it to thicken and then dried it in the oven, mixed it with flour, sugar, chocolate, milk and eggs, as well as a little margarine, and kneaded the dough. I made a lot of cupcakes for tea and treated them to the ladies who visited me, Giuseppe and I ate them too."
The second victim, Francesca Soavi, believed Leonarda's claim that she had found her a job at a girls' school in Piacenza. Like Setty, Soavi wrote to family and friends about her move. And she also drank an unusual wine at Cianciulli's parting. And also turned into soap and cakes. The murder took place on September 5, 1940. The soapmaker's killer earned 3 thousand lire on Soavi.
Later, in prison, Leonardo Cianciulli wrote a memoir, which she titled: "Confession of an embittered soul."
The third and last victim of Cianchulli was the former opera singer of the Teatro alla Scala, owner of the beautiful soprano Virginia Cacioppo. For her, Cianciulli allegedly found a job as a secretary for a mysterious impresario in Florence.
“She got into the pot, like her two previous ones, her flesh was oily and pale when I melted it. I added a bottle of cologne and after a long boil I was able to make a cream soap of a fairly acceptable quality. I distributed it to neighbors and acquaintances. And by the way, the cupcakes turned out to be tastier: that woman was very sweet,”the killer wrote in her memoirs.
Although Cianciulli thought she had covered all traces, she was missing something. Unlike his first two victims, who had a limited social circle, Cacioppo had a daughter-in-law, and very curious at the same time. She did not believe the letters about her sudden departure and saw Cacioppo enter Cianchulli's house the evening she was supposed to leave. She reported her suspicions to the police, and soon Leonard was arrested.
Leonard during the trial
As a result, the killer received 30 years in prison and spent another three years in a mental hospital for criminals. As it turned out, the palmist was right.
Leonarda Cianciulli died of cerebral stroke in the Women's Psychiatric Hospital for Criminals in Pozzuoli on October 15, 1970. Items related to her case, including the pot in which the victims were boiled, are on display in the Criminological Museum in Rome.
See also: The most ruthless child murderers in history, Why the "sun king" Louis XIV disgusted women, 5 common things women could not do in the middle of the 20th century
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