Leonarda Cianciulli, born on 14th April 1894, was an Italian serial killer that transmuted her victims into bars of soap.1 Cianciulli was born out of Montella, Avellino and died aged 76 in Naples, Italy. Apart from converting her victims into bars of soap, she also converted them into teacakes. She was a famed female serial killer, infamous due to her gruesome acts.
Disturbed early life
Leonarda Cianciulli had a disturbing childhood that lead her to attempt two suicides while still very young. She later married against the wishes of her parents and was cursed for it. It is believed that Cianciulli associated the cursing of her parents with the multiple miscarriages and early deaths of her children.
Fortune teller prophesied premature deaths of her children
While young, Cianciulli visited a fortune teller. The fortune teller prophesied that she would loose all of her future children to premature deaths. This prophesy disturbed her to no end. It was known that Cianciulli made various further visits to fortune tellers and palm readers alike. She later turned fortune telling into a trade by prophesying about the future to others.
Multiple miscarriages and early deaths
Leonarda Cianciulli had a total of 17 pregnancies,2 out of which 3 were miscarriages. 10 of her children encountered an early death and her remaining four children lived out regular lives. One miscarriage after another made her more superstitious. As her younger children suffered early deaths, her superstition grew even more and ultimately reached its climax, when her eldest son Giuseppe, mentioned his desire to join the Italian national army.
Her Three victims
Leonarda Cianciulli was upset at the thought of loosing her eldest to battle and vowed to do whatever it takes to save her sons life. She channelled this to human sacrifice. She was convinced that her son would be saved once she practiced human sacrifice.
All three of Leonarda Cianciulli’s victims were women and all of them were known to her before-hand, making them easy targets. Her 3 victims visited her to attain guidance in their lives through Cianciulli’s alleged physic abilities to prophesise their future.
The victims Faustina Setti, Francesca Soavi and finally Virginia Cacioppo were all called to her home, drugged, and later murdered by an axe. She later chopped their bodies and turned them into teacakes and soaps.
Virginia Cacioppo’s sister-in-law had spotted her just moments before she entered Cianciulli’s home. She connected the dots between her disappearance and Cianciulli’s role in it. Fearing grave consequences for her sister-in-law, she complained to the authorities. The police would later come to the conclusion that Leonarda Cianciulli murdered not only Virginia Cacioppo but also the other two women. She was tried, convicted and sentenced to 30 years in an Italian prison and 3 years in asylum.3
Cianciulli’s memoir – An Embittered Soul’s Confessions
Mentioned below is a graphic snippet out of Cianciulli’s memoir.
- “I threw the pieces into a pot, added seven kilos of caustic soda, which I had bought to make soap, and stirred the whole mixture until the pieces dissolved in a thick, dark mush that I poured into several buckets and emptied in a nearby septic tank. As for the blood in the basin, I waited until it had coagulated, dried it in the oven, ground it and mixed it with flour, sugar, chocolate, milk and eggs, as well as a bit of margarine, kneading all the ingredients together. I made lots of crunchy tea cakes and served them to the ladies who came to visit, though Giuseppe and I also ate them.”