The notorious “Vampire of Düsseldorf”, Peter Kürten murdered sadistically without discrimination, graduating from raping, torturing and killing animals to human victims. Most were adults, but some of his victims were as young as five years old. In addition to blood-thirsty murder, Kürten regularly committed arson and robbery, which he sometimes used to hide or disguise the intent of his more grisly crimes.
Born: May 26, 1883, Mülheim am Rhein, Germany
Died: July 2, 1931, Klingelpultz Prison, Cologne, Germany
M.O.: Strangling and stabbing, but later changed to bludgeoning with a hammer to keep the police off his trail
Signature: Sexual orgasm from the sight and sound of blood leaving his victims’ bodies
Victim Count: Convicted of 9 murders and 7 attempted murders; believed to be responsible for over 30 rapes and attempted murders; confessed to 79
Best known for: Drinking the blood of his victims
“Tell me. After my head has been chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from the stump of my neck? That would be the pleasure to end all pleasures.” - Peter Kürten
Peter Kürten’s parents exposed him to violence and sexual abuse at a young age. Alcoholics and deeply disturbed people in their own right, they forced their children to watch them have sex on a number of occasions. In addition, his father regularly beat Kürten, his mother and other siblings and even repeatedly raped Peter’s sister. Because of his psychopathy and need to be in control, Kürten was not appalled by the abuse but rather desired to mimic what he saw on those weaker than himself. When he was just nine years old, Kürten befriended a dog-catcher who cultivated his enjoyment of murder by inviting him to help him kill strays. Killing made Kürten feel powerful and in control in the face of his volatile home life.Two years after his father went to jail for rape, Kürten tried raping his sister himself but had more success with small farm animals.
His career of robbery, arson, rape and murder of human victims began when he ran away from home. Likely to have had Sexual Sadism Disorder, Kürten found humiliating and hurting unconsenting individuals sexually gratifying. After robbing a tavern and slitting the throat of his first verifiable victim, Kürten stayed to watch the blood stream from her neck and drip onto the floor from her bed. He later confessed to police that he orgasmed in the act of murdering his victims.
He married a woman named Auguste, but continued to rape and murder, unbeknownst to his wife. He sometimes returned to a crime scene, a grave site or eavesdropped on people conversing about the murders. On one occasion, Kürten even joined the angry mob that gathered after the discovery of a five year old girl he strangled and brutally stabbed. With a wife at home, he couldn’t keep physical trophies but these methods of were the next best thing in helping him relive his crimes.
Kürten did not stalk his victims, but his murders were somewhat premeditated. Impulsive, Kürten prepared for his urges by carrying his weapons with him in case the need struck. As his victim count grew, Kürten became paranoid that the police and his wife would connect him to his crimes. He switched up his killing methods and weapons to avoid setting a pattern others could follow.
However, in a surprising fit of guilt or morality, Kürten confessed his crimes to Auguste and urged her to turn him into the police for the reward money. Before being decapitated by a guillotine, Peter Kürten asked the prison psychiatrist if he’d be able to hear the blood gushing from his neck for a moment after his head was chopped off. For a morbid individual obsessed with blood, that would have been a good way to die.