PETER KURTEN, THE VAMPIRE OF DUSSELDORF
By Tim Lambert
Peter Kurten was a German serial killer. He was sometimes called The Vampire of Dusseldorf. Kurten was born on 26 May 1883. He was third of 13 children (two of them died at a young age) and his father was a bully who beat his wife and his son. Peter Kurten left school in 1897 and he became an apprentice molder. However in 1899 Kurten began a series of prison sentences for crimes such as theft. Then on 25 May 1913 Peter Kurten broke into the home of a family called Klein. He strangled the 10 year old daughter Christine until she was unconscious then cut her throat. Unfortunately Kurten was not caught. With the outbreak of the First World War Peter Kurten was drafted into the army but he soon deserted and he spent the war in prison. He was released in 1921.
In 1923 Peter Kurten married and in 1925 he and his wife moved to Dusseldorf. He began killing again in 1929. On 2 February he attacked Apollonia Kuhn with a pair of scissors. Fortunately her screams scared him off but on 8 February he killed a 9 year old girl, Rosa Ohliger with the scissors. Then on 12 February 1929 Kurten stabbed a middle aged man named Rudolf Sheer. On 11 August he stabbed a woman named Maria Hahn. Then on 23 August Peter Kurten killed 2 girls aged 14 and 5. Kurten persuaded the older girl, Louise Lenzen to go and get him some cigarettes while he looked after her foster sister, Gertrude Hamacher. Kurten killed the youngest girl and when her sister returned he killed her too. The next day Peter Kurten attacked a 26 year old woman named Gertrude Schulte. Fortunately she survived.
Kurten then changed his method of killing. On 29 September 1929 he used a hammer Finally on 7 November Kurten stabbed a 5 year old girl called Gertrude Albermann with scissors. Peter Kurten was caught after he met a 21 year old woman named Maria Budlick at Dusseldorf railway station. He persuaded her to come to his home where he fed her. Kurten then led the woman to the Grafenburg Woods where he attacked her. Inexplicably he asked her if she remembered where he lived. Wisely she said no and he let her go. But Maria did remember and she led detectives to Kurten's home. He happened to see the detectives and he fled but the next day realizing the game was up he persuaded his wife to go to the police and report him and claim the reward for his capture. Peter Kurten was arrested on 24 May 1930.
Peter Kurten confessed everything. His trial began on 13 April 1931. Not surprisingly he was found guilty of murder and he was sentenced to death. Peter Kurten was guillotined on 2 July 1931.
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