Mr. Béla Kiss’s Mysterious barrels

By : Ayad Attar

 “Poor man…” said the old lady, nodding her head toward a man who was slowly walking on the other side of the road, staring at the ground, not caring about what was going on around him, as if he was thinking deeply about things that only God knows. The old lady was talking to a young widow , both dressed in black. They were chatting on the corner of a main road in Cinkota, near Budapest, one afternoon in 1912.

– “What’s wrong with him… he seems sad and absent-minded,” said the young widow, looking at where the old widow nodded.

– “He was deserted by his young wife. She ran away with one of those eccentric Bohemian youths,” replied the old woman in a low voice, bringing her mouth close to the young widow’s ear.

– “What a fool!…” the young widow said in a tone tinged with some heartbreak, then continued saying: “How can she leave such a husband to go with one of those fools. He is the man every woman wants to marry .. respectable, handsome and wealthy. I don’t think he will stay long until he finds someone who knows his worth and fulfills his right of love and respect.”

The two women chased the man with glances and whispers until he entered one of the side alleys and was out of their sight.

Cinkota, near Budapest

Despite the apparent wandering of his mind, the man was not unaware of those soft whispers that followed him whenever he walked in the streets of his small town. He seemed indifferent from the outside, but inwardly he found great pleasure in being the focus of the town’s ladies’ conversation, so he went on to assume the role of the wounded, betrayed husband. He walks the streets showing himself dressed in an elegant dark suit and a long graceful hat under which two wide, bright eyes flashed with intelligence And cunning and under them, a wide mustache extends, which gives the impression of seriousness and sobriety of its owner.

The man’s appearance and features, in addition to the story of his wounded heart, were an irresistible magical mixture for most women, especially those young widows who lost their husbands in the wars and unrest at that time.

The townspeople knew the man as Béla Kiss, in his forties, with a mysterious past. He came to the town several years ago with a beautiful wife who is fourteen years younger than him. He worked in the plumbing field and seemed well off. He bought a spacious house on the outskirts of the town, the neighbors soon liked him for his cheerfulness and kindness and for not failing to help others.

Béla Kiss

Mr. Kiss’s only flaw was his extreme jealousy for his young wife. He would not leave her out of his sight unless he had to travel to the capital to follow up on some of his work. During his travels, the wife met a young painter who approached her under the pretext of drawing a few paintings for her, and then soon possessed her heart and mind. It was not long before Mr. Kiss knocked on the door of his neighbors one day, his eyes heavy with tears, he told them that his wife had deserted him. He was holding a paper in his hand that he said he had found on his bed after returning from one of his trips. It was a message from his wife telling him that she had left with her lover and apologizing for her abandonment of him. Since that day, Mr. Kiss’s personality has changed radically, becoming gloomy and mysterious, and his mixing with others has decreased. And rumors began to haunt him, they said that he had become fond of magic and astrology.

Mr. Kiss brought an old woman to serve him and manage his house, her name was Mrs. Jakubec. He handed her the keys to all the rooms in his house, except for one on the upper floor, which she was forbidden to enter or even knock on her door. He would spend many hours alone in that room. But he was not secluded or ascetic about the pleasures of life as some of the residents of his town imagined. From time to time he was visited by some ladies.. women of all race, shapes and ages.. young and old widows.. rich maidens..married women looking for adventure..most of them came from Budapest. All of them did not stay for more than two days.

One day Mr. Kiss returned from Budapest with a truck loaded with large metal barrels, which he had placed in his yard. Curiosity prompted some of his neighbors to ask him about the secret of his purchase of all those barrels. He replied that he would use them to store gasoline, because the war is at the door, and there will definitely be a shortage of fuel. The man’s intuition was correct, as the black clouds in the skies of Europe at that time quickly turned into a violent storm that burned everything.. The First World War broke out in 1914, and Hungary was at the center of that devastating war. Unfortunately for Mr. Kiss, he did not benefit from his barrels, as he was led to the front, like most men of the town, leaving his house in the custody of Mrs. Jakubec.

A year and two years passed, during which Mr. Kiss did not return and no news arrived from him, so people thought that he had died during the battles, and everyone forgot about him until that morning in 1916, when a platoon of soldiers came to the town, they were in dire need of fuel. They searched everywhere, but in vain, there was not a single drop of fuel in the town. Before they left in desperation, a resident told them about the barrels in Mr. Kiss’s house, and how he filled them with fuel before he went to the war. The soldiers went there immediately, and indeed they found seven large barrels in the yard of the house, and they proceeded to open them, despite the objection of Mrs. Jakubec.

As soon as they removed the lid from the first barrel, a strange, pungent smell spread, and everyone looked curiously into the barrel, and soon the expressions of astonishment, shock and disgust rose on their faces, for at the bottom of the barrel lay a naked body of a woman soaked in alcohol. The same thing was repeated with the other six barrels. Inside each of them lay a corpse, and all the corpses were women.

It was an unbelievable surprise.. Béla Kiss .. that good polite neighbour.. it turned out to be a terrible serial killer! ..

In the basement they found more barrels, and inside each of them was a corpse, one of which was Mr. Kiss’s wife who had allegedly deserted him, and another of her young lover, the latter was the only man among the 24 corpses found in the house, all the other bodies were those of unidentified women, and it was clear that all of them had been strangled, except for the wife and lover who were killed by poison.

The barrels in which the bodies were found

Perhaps the most terrifying thing about these corpses is that they were completely devoid of blood, they were pale corpses whose blood was sucked from their veins to the last drop, which led many to believe that Mr. Kiss was a real vampire.

The discovery of the bodies caused a big commotion in the small town. The police were called, and the investigators began to interrogate everyone, but their suspicions centered on Mrs. Jakubec, they thought that she was Mr. Kiss’s partner in his crimes, but the old lady swore that she did not know anything about the bodies. She said that her master would bring a woman home from time to time, and he used to brought them at night, but she did not ask or try to find out anything about them, it was not her business, but it seemed that most of them came from the capital, and their clothes and their Jewelery indicated wealth. Most of them stayed at home for a day or two before they disappeared. But she did not imagine that her master would kill them, she thought that they would leave without her knowledge.

During the investigation, Mrs. Jakubec spoke about the forbidden room on the upper floor, and said that she had never entered it, and that her master made sure that no one else entered it. The room was locked, so the police broke the door, and inside they found strange things.. glass bottles of different sizes containing the carcasses of rodents and reptiles soaked in colored liquids. It was clear that Mr. Kiss had made many experiments on how to preserve corpses in liquids; There are also pots and bags filled with powders, herbs and chemicals of a mysterious nature. On the shelves and tables were many books and manuscripts that talk about magic and astrology, as well as brochures on poisons, and others on anatomy and how to kill humans. At the far end of the room was a huge desk strewn with letters, pictures of women, and newspaper clippings containing marriage announcements. Through these clippings, the investigators were able to discover Mr. Kiss’s method of hunting his victims, his method was very simple, he was publishing advertisements in newspapers claiming that he was a widowed and wealthy man looking for a good wife, he received many responses, mostly from widows and maidens, and he would select from them the wealthy and lonely, those who have no one to ask about them in the event of their sudden disappearance. He used to manipulate them to extort their money, and if he achieves his purpose from them, he would kill them and put their bodies in barrels of alcohol.

He was truly an evil genius.. Had it not been for the war, they would never have discovered his crimes.
But when did Béla Kiss start killing his victims? Was his wife and her lover the first victims? ..

A picture of one of the victims

No one knows exactly.. the man has a mysterious past, but the police found in his office letters to women dated 1903, long before his wife disappeared. Which led some investigators to believe that the number of Béla Kiss’s victims far exceeds what they found in his home. But there was no way to verify this except through Béla Kiss himself, which made the police in a frantic race to reach him, so they sent a quick telegram to his military unit asking them to arrest him, but they received a reply telegram telling them that Béla Kiss was wounded during one of the battles and was taken to a Serbian hospital, the investigators immediately went to that hospital to be surprised by the news of the death of Béla Kiss from his wounds, but the body they saw in the hospital mortuary was not Béla Kiss, it was clear that he had put the body of another soldier in his bed to delude the police of his death while he was able to escape to an unknown destination .

Descriptions and picture of Béla Kiss were distributed to the police all over Hungary and Europe, but no one was able to arrest him.. he disappeared forever and turned into a legend.. some said he was imprisoned in Romania for fraud and died there of typhoid fever, others said that he was captured during the war and he died in Russian camps, and there are also those who claim that he died of poisoning in Istanbul.

Over the years, there have been many stories of seeing him in many places. In 1920, a soldier in the French Foreign Legion submitted a report to the French police claiming that a colleague of his named Hoffman – the name that Béla Kiss used to call himself during his correspondence with women – was bragging about his ingenuity and long experience in strangling people, and Hoffman’s specifications were very applicable to Béla Kiss, but he disappeared before the hands of the French police reached him.

In 1932, an American investigator claimed that he had seen a man who looked like Béla Kiss walking among the crowds in Times Square in New York. The investigator tried to reach him, but the man felt that someone was chasing him, so he slipped among the people and disappeared, and this was the last alleged sighting of Béla Kiss, who rumors say that he spent the rest of his life working as a janitor for a building in New York until he passed away in the 1940s.. but they are just rumors and unsubstantiated tales.. as for the truth, only God knows it. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *