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German serial killer Peter Kürten, known as the "Dusseldorf Vampire", murdered at least nine people before surrendering to police in 1931.
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Born in Germany in 1883 to an impoverished and abusive household, serial killer Peter Kürten began murdering people in 1913. In the publicity surrounding his killings he became known as the "Dusseldorf Vampire." He surrendered to police in 1931 and was executed shortly thereafter.
Peter Kürten was born into extreme deprivation and poverty in Köln-Mullheim, a suburb of Cologne, Germany on May 26, 1883. The eldest of 13 children, his father was an alcoholic with sadistic tendencies, who brutalized both wife and children, in the one room apartment that they all shared, for the duration of Kürten's childhood.
This daily subjection to sexual violence must have had an immense influence on the boy who, aged 9, formed an unhealthy relationship with a dog-catcher living in the same building, who introduced him to the practice of bestiality, carried out initially on dogs.
Kürten claims to have drowned two school friends at the age of nine. Having pushed one overboard, the second dived in to his rescue: Kürten held both under water until they had suffocated. At the time the event was dismissed as a tragic childhood accident.
As Kürten matured sexually, his bestiality extended to sheep, goats and other farmyard animals, with the teenager discovering particular pleasure when the animal was stabbed during intercourse.
By 1899, at the age of 16, Kürten had progressed to petty crime, and ran away from home to escape the continuing violence. Shortly after his departure, his father was arrested for incestuous relations with Kürten's 13-year old sister, and he was jailed for three years.
Kürtens petty crime soon led to the first of many short prison sentences, for various misdemeanors, that punctuated his existence over the following years. The appalling conditions within the prisons confirmed his sadistic tendencies, which he now transferred from farm animals to humans.
With each successive sentence, Kürten's rage against society, and his capacity for depravity, increased; he discovered a fascination for brutal sexual acts while in solitary confinement, which enhanced his fantasies: so much so that he began to break prison rules to ensure the maximum time in solitary confinement.
During his periods of release between prison spells, Kürten was responsible for various sexual assaults, but his first documented murder victim was 10-year-old Christine Klein. Klein was sexually assaulted and stabbed in her home in Cologne, on May 25, 1913, while her parents worked in their pub below her bedroom.
Her uncle, who had had an argument with her father, immediately came under suspicion, and Kürten , who returned to the scene of the crime the next day, was enthralled by the horror the killing had invoked in the locals, especially when the sexual assault came to light. The innocent uncle was cleared of the murder, given the lack of evidence, but Kürten followed his trial with interest, whetting his sadistic appetite for suffering in others.
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