Written By: YN
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Dubbed as the Vampire of Cinkota, Bela Kiss was born on July 28, 1877 in Izsak, Austrai-Hungary. Kiss was known by everyone as a lady’s man with an amiable and respectable disposition in society. Little did they know that Kiss was great at hiding secrets. So great, in fact, that despite killing at least 23 women and one man, the authorities were never able to capture him.
Nothing out of the ordinary
Born from a loving couple, Janos Kiss and Verona Varga, Kiss’ childhood was as normal as anyone’s early years could go. There were no stories of abuse or neglect. In fact, there weren’t much stories to tell at all. Everyone thought of Kiss as a gentle, well-behaved child from a respectable family. He carried this image with him until he moved out of his parents’ home and into a house he rented in Cinkota.
At age 23, Kiss lived as a popular bachelor among the ladies. He was handsome, smart, wealthy, and friendly enough. He worked as a tinsmith, was a gentleman, and seemed to have it all. Any women would be lucky to have him…or so they thought.
And true enough, Kiss married twice and had two children. He was known to be a family man and devoted husband all throughout his married life. But out of his two wives, only one of them was often discussed until the present.
Marie (or Maria) was fifteen years his junior. They were married in 1912 when he was around 40 years old. However, this relationship didn’t last long. On that same year, Marie decided to run away with her lover and leave Kiss behind. Grief-stricken and broken-hearted, many people said that Kiss had never been the same since then.
Something seems amiss
Unbeknownst to town, their most eligible bachelor had very unusual tastes in hobbies and interests. For one, he had keen interest on astrology and the occult. His library was filled with books of them, including about poisons and deaths.
After Marie’s desertion, he turned deeper into his books and hired a housekeeper to manage his affairs. It was then that he started corresponding with numerous women all throughout. At first, nobody batted their eyelashes at this. After all, Kiss was single once again. They would see him parading different women a week, but they never saw the same face twice. Soon enough, they would find out why.
But what really caught people’s attention was the handful of metal drums he had been hauling to and from his house. In fact, they found it strange enough to call authorities on him about it. At that time, there were already two widows missing. The authorities immediately questioned Kiss about his metal drums, and he told them that the drums only contained gasoline. He was preparing himself from the potential rationing due to the incoming war. With no other reasons to be suspicious of Kiss, the authorities let him go.
The other side of the coin
The war finally came upon them and Kiss was conscripted in 1914. Eighteen months later, he was declared missing in action and presumed dead. With no assurance that he would be coming back, his landlord decided to clear out his room and rent it out to someone else. It was then that he remembered about Kiss’ metal drums.
The landlord decided to call the authorities in the hopes of donating the metal drums to the city council. After all, wartime made it harder for them to get their hands on more gas. What they didn’t know, however, was that there was a surprise waiting for them inside each metal drums.
The authorities finally arrived with all the intentions of transporting gasoline. But when they decided to pry the lid open from one of the metal drums, a foul smell greeted them immediately. There, inside the metal drum, was a body of a woman. She was pickled in alcohol, and there were two puncture wounds on her neck. She was also drained entirely of blood and seemingly strangled to death. Unsurprisingly, all 24 drums contained the same content.
Upon closer inspection, they realized that the drums contained the two missing widows, his ex-wife Marie, and her lover, a man named Paul Bikari. The rest of the victims were young, single women from neighboring towns who were never reported missing.
Detective Chief Charles Nagy was then assigned to lead an investigation on Kiss. His team stormed into Kiss’ “secret room”. It was his library where he spent most of his time in. There they discovered his correspondence to 74 women. In his letters, he pretended to be looking for a wife of “small fortune”. He would woo and court them until they decided to agree to give him their dowry or go to his house. And as everyone now knew, those he brought home would never be seen again.
A hit and miss of Béla Kiss
Despite the fact that Kiss was missing and presumed dead, Chief Nagy immediately informed the military of his crimes and asked that he be arrested as soon as he was found. In the meantime, they arrested his housekeeper, whom they suspected to be Kiss’ accomplice. However, the old woman vehemently denied knowledge of her employer’s activities.
On October 4, 1916, the military reached out to Nagy regarding Kiss’. They reported that Kiss had been found recuperating in a Serbian hospital. Nagy and his team rushed to the said hospital only to learn that Kiss was already dead. Once again, the case was closed.
Three years later, however, authorities received reports that many people saw Kiss walking up and about in Cinkota. He was very much alive and well. It was then that they realized that the soldier they saw in the Serbian hospital was someone else. Kiss had switched papers with a dead soldier, allowing him to escape and start over with a new identity.
Proving yet again that the police were no match for him, Kiss escaped long before they could make another arrest.
The many faces of Béla Kiss
Throughout the years, there were numerous sightings of Béla Kiss. There were rumors that he had been imprisoned in Romania for burglary. Others said that he died of yellow fever in Turkey.
The most plausible was in 1924. There was one man who claimed that his friend, Hoffman, was actually Kiss in disguise. He reported his suspicions to the police, but his friend mysteriously disappeared before the police could investigate it further.
Béla Kiss’ last known sighting was in 1932 in New York City. It was said that he worked as a janitor for one company for many years. A homicide detective had seemingly recognized his face and began to ask around for his background. Upon hearing this, Kiss fled once again.
In the end, nobody knows where he is now or if he is dead. But one thing was for sure, he was definitely the one that got away.
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