Thursday 12 January 2017

The Deadliest Killers-Queers

When it comes to naming members of the lgbt community who will go down in history as villains perhaps those highest on the list would be murderers and serial killers. Some of the most infamous serial killers have been gay. The names of Jeffrey Dahmer, Denis Nielsen and John Wayne Gacy send shivers down my spine when I recall their horrific treatment of their victims.

The conviction last month of the serial killer Stephen Port reminds us that we cannot claim to be perfect (not that anyone ever has claimed that).

Because of the horrific nature of some murders we have a morbid desire to learn about them. This desire has produced hundreds of television series devoted to murder. Many of these programmes have featured lgbt murderers and serial killers. For me a serial killer is any person (with or without an accomplice) who deliberately murders more than two victims at different times. The motives and methods need not necessarily be the same.

The first two of the three serial killers I want to mention today have gone down in history as legendary figures and subjects of popular fiction – Bluebeard and “Countess Dracula”. Both are listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as being among the most prolific murderers in, and of, their respective gender. The total combined number of their victims may never be known but both are known to have killed several hundred people each.

The name of Bluebeard has become synonymous with serial wife-killers. He even became the main character in a fairy tale by the man who brought us the likes of Cinderella. One of the real serial killers onto which some people say Bluebeard was based was somewhat different. Gilles de Montmorency-Laval, Sire de Rais (1407-1440) was a French aristocrat who was a companion of St. Joan of Arc, and like her became a national hero of the French resistance to English rule.

Most often referred to as simply Gilles de Rais this “hero” retired to his family estate and substituted killing Englishmen with killing French boys. During the 1430s he is said to have lured hundreds of peasant boys to their deaths at his hand. His usual method was to sexually assault them then slit their throats. Sometimes he would decapitate them and fondle the severed head. Even though he was personally responsible for their deaths Gilles was not alone in procuring the boys. His steward and two of his cousins scouted the countryside for his victims and also sexually abused the boys.

Fortunately, Gilles de Rais was arrested for hitting a priest. His trial revealed the fate of many of his young victims. He confessed to 400 murders though the actual number is probably less, albeit still over 300.

Topping that number by over a hundred is the “Blood Countess” who inspired the famous Hammer horror film “Countess Dracula”. Her real name was Countess Erzsébet Bathori (1560-1614), and she was number 79 in my 2015 series “Around the World in 80Gays”. As with Gilles de Rais the Countess’s victims were from the lower classes in society and were lured to their place of torture and death with promises of work. Also, like Gilles de Rais, the victims of the Countess were of the same gender, in her case all female.

There’s no evidence that Countess Erzsébet ever has sex with her victims, unlike Gilles, but both serial killers are recorded as displaying erotic behaviour towards severed heads. It is this sexual aspect which was developed overtly in the Hammer film.

The usual number of the Countess’s victims is given as around 650. This is based on the evidence given by a witness at her trial of a now long-long written account of the murders by the countess herself. The Guinness Book of World Records accepts this figure.

A more recent lgbt serial killer also preyed on the vulnerable classes. Unlike Gilles de Rais and Erzsébet Bathori Luis Alfredo Garavito (b.1957) was not a rich aristocrat. He came from a working-class family in Colombia. He, too, lured his victims to their deaths with promises, in Garavito’s case with gifts of money. The poor street children he entrapped were tortured and raped before being murdered.

For four years Garavito continued his horrific crimes until he was arrested for the rape of a 12-year-old. He admitted to killing over 140 boys. However, in prison he made maps which showed the locations where he killed a possible total of over 300 victims.

The recent conviction of Stephen Port and the stories of dozens of other serial killers throughout history just goes to show that no matter how vigilant we are against homophobic murders there is always the presence of danger lurking within our community.

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