LEONARDA CIANCIULLI, THE SOAP MAKER

By Tim Lambert

Leonarda Cianciulli was an Italian murderer. She was born in Montella in 1893. She married a clerk named Pansardi in 1914. Her parents disapproved of the marriage and Cianciulli, who was a very superstitious woman came to believe her mother had put a curse on her. Leonarda Cianciulli first showed her criminal tendencies in 1927 when she was imprisoned for fraud. When she was released she and her husband moved to Lacedonia. However their house was destroyed by an earthquake in 1930. They moved to the city of Correggio. Leonarda ran a shop. Meanwhile Cianciulli was pregnant 17 times but she miscarried 3 times of the other 13 children only 4 survived. Cianciulli was therefore very protective of her surviving children.

In 1939 Italy was preparing for war and her son Giuseppe joined the army. Naturally Cianciulli was afraid he would be killed but she devised a bizarre plan to protect his life. She decided to carry out human sacrifices in the belief that this would somehow keep him safe. Her first victim was an unmarried woman named Faustina Setti. Leonardo Cianciulli convinced the unfortunate woman that there was a suitable man in Pola. She also persuaded her to write out postcards to friends and relatives to say everything in her life was fine. However when Faustina came to her house Cianciulli gave her drugged wine. She then killed the victim with an axe. Cianciulli drained the body of blood. She claimed used the blood to make cakes. Cianciulli dismembered the body, mixed the body parts with caustic soda until they dissolved.

The second victim was a woman named Francesca Soavi. Leonarda Cianciulli persuaded her she had found a job for her in Piacenza. Again she persuaded the victim to write postcards to friends. When Soavi went to visit Cianciulli she was drugged then killed with an axe. The body was dismembered and mixed with caustic soda. The third victim was a woman named Virginia Cacioppo. Leonarda Cianciulli claimed to have found a job for her and persuaded her to write postcards to friends. Once again Cianciulli drugged the victim and killed her with an axe. Again Cianciulli claimed she used the victim's blood to make cakes. However this time Cianciulli claimed she used the victim's flesh to make soap. However the victim's sister in law was suspicious. She discovered that Virginia was last seen entering the house of Cianciulli. The sister in law told the police and they arrested Cianciulli, who confessed. She was tried for murder in 1946. She was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in jail and 3 in an asylum. Leonarda Cianciulli was never released. She died in 1970.

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