Written By: YN
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
In the Web of The “Spider Killing” Saeed Hanaei
A construction worker, a husband, a father, and a serial killer. This was how the media portrayed Saeed Hanaei. Between the years 2000 and 2001, Hanaei has roamed the streets of Mashdad, looking to cleanse the city of corruption and immorality. This resulted to the deaths of 12 to 16 prostitutes in just a year. Despite the cruelty and violence that these women experienced in his hands, he never once showed remorse to his actions.
The man behind the act
There is not much information on Hanaei’s childhood. What little you can glean from news articles say that he was born in 1962 and grew up in a traditional Muslim family. Hence, he took these conservative views with him until he turned into an adult.
He lived in Mashdad, Iran where he got married and had three children of his own. He worked as a construction worker and was a dutiful follower of the Islamic faith. He also served as a volunteer in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
Prior to his despicable acts, there were no records of him showing signs of violence or anger towards women. No stories of a tortured past or of the growing darkness inside him. At first glance, he was your average family man.
This all changed when, one day, his wife was mistaken for a prostitute by a taxi driver. This presumption had so angered him that he tried hunting down men who solicited prostitutes only to be beaten up as a result. It was then that he opted to vent out his frustrations on those who couldn’t fight back—the prostitutes.
A holy retribution
Hanaei never viewed his actions as murders. In fact, he felt justified by them. He was only cleansing the world of those that are “waste of blood”. For him, prostitutes are poisons to the morality of society. It was his God-given duty to rid the earth of them.
Dubbed as the “Spider Killer” by the authorities, Hanaei would often lure prostitutes into his house. He did it by disguising his wife as a streetwalker. With their guards down, he would then strangle the women with their own headscarves. Once they were dead, he wrapped their bodies with their chadors, knotted at the top and bottom to form a makeshift body bag, and throw them by the roadside or in open sewers.
His victims ages varied between 18 to 50 years old. He didn’t care about their appearances. As long as they were prostitutes, he didn’t care any less. Overall, there were 16 prostitutes found dead in 2000 to 2001. All of which were linked to him.
His arrest finally came in July 2001 when his would-be victim escaped. She reported the incident to the police a few days later, which led to his subsequent capture.
Serial killer turned hero?
A construction, a husband, a father, and a hero?
The news of Hanaei’s arrest had sparked debate among Iranians on whether or not his actions were justified. One newspaper wrote, “Who is to be judged? Those who look to eradicate the sickness or those who stand at the root of the corruption?” One scholar referred to an Islamic criminal code that said, “If the killer can prove that the victim was a ‘waste of blood’, then there will be no charges against the killer.”
And that was exactly how some people viewed Hanaei’s victims. A ‘waste of blood’. Underserving of the life they chose to besmirched.
Such way of thinking was so deeply ingrained into their minds that even Hanaei’s 14-year-old son saw no fault in his father’s horrific actions. “If they kill him tomorrow, dozens will replace him,” he said. “Since his arrest, 10 or 20 people have asked me to continue what my Dad was doing. I say, ‘Let’s wait and see.’”
And indeed, Hanaei showed no remorse towards the lives he had taken. The children he had turned motherless. For him, he was only doing what God had wanted him to do. To others, he was more than just a killer or a vigilante. He was a hero.
Shattering the delusion
Fortunately, the majority of Iranians didn’t share that same sentiment. Murder is murder, and people were hounding for justice. No matter how much Hanaei defended his atrocities, he was sentenced to death by hanging.
The decision had shocked and angered him. Although his execution was not as highly publicized as his trial, there were reports where he protested and screamed, completely in denial of his incoming death. He firmly believed that his ideological allies would come to his rescue. In the end, however, no one came.
He died at the dawn of April 8, 2002 in Mashdad Prison, never wavering from his own delusions. On that same year, a documentary titled, “And Along Came a Spider” came out, exposing Hanaei’s dangerous acts and ideology to the rest of the world with the hopes that no people will follow into his footsteps in the future.
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