Peter Kurten

Nickname: The Dusseldorf Vampire

Reign of terror: 1913 - 1930

Motive: Revenge, sex


Date Victim Age Crime Method
May 1913 Kristine Klein 13 Murder Strangled & throat cut
July 1913 Gertrud Franken Teenager Murder Strangled
Summer 1925 Maria Kiefer - Attempted murder Strangled
Spring 1926 Maria Wack - Attempted murder Strangled
1927 Annie Ist - Attempted murder Strangled
08/02/29 Rosa Ohliger 8 Murder Strangled & stabbed with scissors
12/02/29 Rudolf Scheer - Murder Stabbed with scissors
August 1929 Maria Hahn - Murder Strangled and stabbed with scissors
- Gertrud Schulte - Attempted murder Stabbed with knife
24/08/29 Luise Lenzen 13 Murder Strangled & stabbed with knife
24/08/29 Gertrud Hamacher 5 Murder Throat cut
30/09/29 Ida Reuter - Murder Hammered
11/10/29 Elizabeth Dorrier - Murder Hammered
07/11/29 Gertrud Albermann 5 Murder Strangled & stabbed
May 1930 Maria Budlies 20 Attempted murder Half strangled

Method: A variety of methods were used - strangulation, stabbing with either a pair of scissors or a kitchen knife, or bludgeoning with a hammer.

Sentence: Kurten received the death penalty for the nine murders he was charged with. He was executed by guillotine in Klingelputz Prison in Cologne.

Interesting facts: There are many aspects of Kurten's childhood which are viewed as typical of the early life of a serial killer - he had a physically abusive father, who was also jailed for attempted incest; he liked to torture animals; he was a petty criminal from an early age; he later became a habitual arsonist, and claimed that he found it sexually stimulating.

Kurten was not actually a very successful killer. Although he killed 8 people during his most active period, he attempted to kill many more, but they survived. He also sexually assaulted many women.

Although Kurten is known as the vampire of Dusseldorf, it has not been proved that he did in fact drink the blood of his victims. It may well be just a journalistic ploy on the behalf of the local newspapers.

Kurten was very interested in the murders of Jack the Ripper, and by all accounts was pleased when the press likened Kurten to him. As Jack the Ripper purportedly did, Kurten also wrote letters to the police and the press telling them where to find the bodies of Gertrud Albermann and Maria Hahn.

It was the attack on Maria Budlies that brought about Kurten's downfall. Budlies was accosted by a stranger who started hassling her. Another man rescued her and she accepted his offer to go to his house for a drink before she went on her way. On their way back from his house, Kurten attempted to strangle his victim. Then he stopped, asked her if she remembered where he lived, and when she wisely said no, let her go. She did not inform the police however, but wrote a letter to her friend. Because she addressed it wrongly, it was opened by the postal service to find a return address, and following a quick read, it was passed to the police. Needless to say, Budlies had remembered where Kurten lived, and so he was caught.