The world became aware about Vera Renczi, a stunningly beautiful Romanian woman, when her story was first published in the USA in May 1925. Thereafter, the horrific story started to resurface repeatedly, without any documentary support or details about the specific dates of her birth, marriage and arrest. Vera Renczi, the Romanian beauty, who was often dubbed the Black Widow or Chatelaine Berkerekul, as she always dressed in black, reportedly confessed about poisoning 35 individuals with arsenic and keeping them in coffins in her basement during the 1920s. Strangely enough, her victims include her two husbands, lovers and her son. She claimed that she killed them and kept their bodies near her, as the dead men would never abandon her.
According to various accounts, Vera Renczi was born in Bucharest in 1903. However, in view of the dates of her alleged crimes, it seems that she was born somewhere in the late 19th century. She lost her mother at the age of 13 and Vera followed her father, when he shifted to the town of Berkerekul, in former Yugoslavia, as he inherited a property in the town from one of his recently deceased uncle.
In the new situation, one day a dog that had been given to Vera was found dead in the garden and when her father asked the girl how it had died, she simply said that she poisoned the animal. On being asked by the surprised father about the reason, she said that she overheard a conversation, when her father told one of their neighbours that he would give her pet to the neighbour, as the dog barks too much at night. She also confessed that she thought it would be the best solution of the problem if the dog dies, as she did not want her dog to belong to anybody else. The father was shocked and gave his daughter a good thrashing to teach her that one must not be so jealous. Consequently, she was sent to a boarding school.
Vera was described by her early friends as somewhat boy-crazy, as she had an almost irresistible pathological desire for constant male companionship and having a highly jealous and suspicious nature. In fact, during her adolescence she was involved in many sexual scandals and by the age of fifteen, she became totally indiscipline and uncontrollable. She frequently ran away from home with numerous boyfriends, many of whom were significantly older than she was.
Before she attained twenty, Vera was married to a wealthy Austrian banker, Karl Schick, many years her senior and soon they had a son, Lorenz. It was apparently a happy marriage, except for the long working hours of Karl, when Vera was left alone at home throughout the day and brood. Gradually, she grew more and more suspicious and started to believe that Karl was cheating her and he was having an affair at her back. Finally, the disaster struck on a fateful evening, when in a bout of brutal rage and jealousy Vera poisoned his dinner wine with arsenic. To avoid the unwanted and inquisitive questions of the neighbours, she informed everybody that Karl Schick had deserted the family. After a silence of about a year she again announced that she had heard the news of the death of her estranged husband in an automobile accident.
Without wasting much time over mourning, Vera married for the second time to a man nearer to her own age. Unfortunately, it was a bad match and from the very onset, the new relationship was a turbulent one. This time also Vera was terribly tormented by the suspicion that her husband was involved in extramarital affairs and within a month of the marriage, the new husband also vanished. As the explanation of his absence, Vera again declared that the man had walked out of her life. After a year of the incident, she claimed to have received a letter from him informing his intention of leaving her forever.
Vera Renczi never married again, though she spent the next several years carrying out a number of immoral and unethical affairs, some sneaky and illicit relationship with married men and indiscriminately sleeping with her numerous suitors of different social status. However, after becoming romantically involved with her, all those persons would vanish magically within a few months, even after a few days and in all cases Vera used to fabricate stories about her ex lovers and brand them as unfaithful and discarded.
Probably, many more men might have disappeared, if it were not another suspicious jealous woman, the wife of one of Vera’s lovers, who suspected her husband was cheating and followed him to Vera Renczi’s home. As the man was inordinately delayed to return home, her wife became intimidated and called the police. Consequently, the police raided her home and discovered thirty five unburied, zinc-lined coffins in her basement, each containing a male corpse in varying stages of decomposition, who were once her lovers and had been treated to a tasty glass of arsenic-laced wine, as soon as the deadly Romania beauty suspected his interest in her was waning. All through the police raid Vera was seated in her armchair among them, enjoying the nearness of her former suitors.
Subsequent to the raid, Vera Renczi was arrested and taken into police custody. She frankly confessed her crime and said that she killed those men, as they were men. She killed them, when she felt their interest in her was abating. She killed them, as she could not endure the thought that those men, who were her lovers, would ever put their arms around another woman. She further confessed that she had to poison her son, as one day he accidentally discovered the coffins in her cellar and threatened to blackmail her. She also apprehended that her son would soon leave her to marry some young girl, so she held him in her arms as he lay dying, so that she would be the last person to hug him.
Vera Renczi was convicted of 35 murders and sentenced to life imprisonment, where she subsequently died due to cerebral hemorrhage.
The first episode titled ‘Obsession’ of the Discovery Channel’s three part series ‘Deadly Women’, recounted the story of Vera Renczi in 2005, where she was described as having killed her victims in Bucharest, Romania during 1930s. Regarding her motivation, the voice-over of the commentator from the FBI said that, the modern analysis suggests she was simply looking for love. Strangely, the Guinness Book of World Records in 1972, found no documentary evidence to support the claim that 35 people were actually killed by Renczi in early 20th-century Romania.