Gory tales of blood-sucking vampire have been around since at least the 17th century. Vampire myths have survived through the ages, and vampires are now a permanent fixture in modern pop culture. But why are we so obsessed with the blood-drinking creatures?
One of the reasons people love vampires is because they are perceived as sexy. At the same time, they are also terrifying. The combination of these feelings is oddly compelling. Drinking blood is also very close to cannibalism. The taboo nature of these practices is part of what gives vampires their allure. Vampires are not afraid of anything and have been depicted as smart, independent, and extremely powerful, making them a prime fantasy for many disaffected people.
For most people, vampire movies, books, and games are just harmless fun. There aren't any real vampires - or are there? A few people take vampirism very seriously. Imagining they are real vampires, they carry out heinous deeds to satisfy their lust for blood. For these people, vampirism isn't just pop culture, but a deadly way of life.
These terrifying real-life vampires took the blood-sucking myth way too far. Those who actually think they are vampires can be scarier than any fiction Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, Stephen King, or Stephanie Meyer could ever imagine.
Daniel and Manuela Ruda of western Germany believed Satan told them to end their friend's life. The young couple, self-proclaimed Satanists and vampires, married on the sixth day of the sixth month (June) to signify the number of the beast. Manuela sometimes slept in a coffin. She also had her teeth removed and animal fangs implanted in their place. Their first forays into blood-drinking took place with consensual volunteers at gatherings they attended in England and Scotland, often held in cemeteries or in old ruined buildings.
The couple said Satan told them they needed to end their friend, 33-year-old Frank Haagen. They picked Haagen because, according to Manuela, he was "so funny and would be the perfect court jester for Satan." They invited Haagen over, telling him they were going to a party. Daniel hit Haagen in the head with a hammer, then they stabbed him 66 times - a significant number for the couple. After he passed, they carved a pentagram into his stomach. They then drank his blood, had sex in Manuela's coffin, and prayed to Satan.
Manuela was disappointed she didn't become a real vampire after enacting the order to end Haagen. When authorities came into their apartment several days later, they found Haagen's decomposing body near the coffin.
At the time of their sentencing, Daniel was 26 and Manuela was 23. They made a show of the trial, flashing Satanist hand signs and threatening witnesses. The pair denied all blame, saying they were simply Satan's instruments. They compared their trial to blaming a car for a vehicular collision. Manuela testified that their actions were "the execution of an order. Satan ordered us to. We had to comply. It was not something bad. It simply had to be. We wanted to make sure that the victim suffered well."
The jury disagreed, however. In 2002, they were both sentenced to psychiatric hospitals: Daniel for 15 years, Manuela for 13.
In November 1996, Rod Ferrell was 16 years old when he used a tire iron to take the lives of Richard and Naomi Wendorf, the parents of his friend Heather Wendorf. He committed these ghastly actions as the ringleader of a teenage vampire cult. Ferrell looked the part of a high school goth: long, dyed-black hair, all-black clothing, and a trench coat. He befriended Heather Wendorf when they both attended high school in Eustis, Florida.
The following year, Ferrell moved to Kentucky but kept in contact with Heather. In Kentucky, Ferrell began collecting members for his vampire cult. Ferrell and his friend Howard Scott Anderson were charged with cruelty to animals after they broke into an animal shelter. They tormented and beat more than 40 dogs, claiming the lives of two in what looked like a satanic ritual.
Ferrell and other teenagers hung out at a place called the “Vampire Hotel," drinking each other's blood. Ferrell became obsessed with the role-playing game Vampire: The Masquerade. He claimed to be a 500-year-old vampire named Vesago.
Just before the targeting the Wendorfs, Ferrell drove from Kentucky to Florida, with Howard Scott Anderson and two girls. Heather Wendorf was planning to run away from home with Ferrell and the rest of the vampire cult. She didn't know Ferrell was planning to target her parents, although other cult members did.
After breaking into the Wendorf home and committing his infamous deeds, Ferrell and Anderson met up with the girls. The five teenagers went on the run for several days before getting caught. In 1998, Ferrell was sentenced to capital punishment, as the youngest person on death row for two years. His sentence was then changed to life without the possibility of parole.
In an interview with Investigation Discovery, Ferrel said: "I was in a maelstrom of my own madness." He has since been diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder. The 2002 movie Vampire Clan was based on Ferrell's infamy.
Richard Trenton Chase, dubbed the "Vampire of Sacramento," is known for taking the lives of six people in 1977. Chase was affected by mental illness his whole life. He chronically used alcohol and drugs as a young man, which psychiatrists believe may have led to Chase's hypochondria. He believed terminating animals and drinking their blood would stop his heart from shrinking. He also believed that was being secretly poisoned by the soap in his bathroom, which was turning his blood to powder. He needed fresh blood to replace what was being lost. He ended many neighborhood pets, including his mother's cat, and bit the heads off birds.
In 1976, he tried to inject rabbit blood into his body, landing him in the hospital. That led to him being placed in a mental institution. He was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. Soon after, he was released from the institution into his mother's care. Then his behavior escalated. Chase was looking for game larger than neighborhood pets. Then he started entering homes - true to vampire folklore, he wouldn't go into a locked house.
On January 23, 1978, Chase targeted Teresa Wallin, who was pregnant. After taking her life, he assaulted and mutilated the body. He ate parts of her flesh and used a yogurt container as a cup to drink her blood. Four days later, he struck again. His next claimed four people in one day, two adults and two young children. He also treated the adult female in the same manner he had with Wallin.
Police found human body parts, including brains, in his refrigerator. He also had a calendar that said "Today" on the dates he struck down victims. The word was written on 44 more days. Chase was sentenced to receive capital punishment, but he ended his own life before it could be carried out. The 1987 movie Rampage was loosely based on his life.
Australian Tracey Wigginton is better known as the "Lesbian Vampire Killer." Wigginton told a jury she didn't live on food, but on the blood of pigs and cows. Wigginton's lover, Lisa Ptaschinski, also said she cut her own wrists so Wigginton could feast on her blood. On the night of October 20, 1989, Wigginton decided to take things a step further and end a human life to satisfy her bloodlust.
Wigginton was 25 years old. She and Ptaschinski, along with two other women, were driving around when they spotted 47-year-old Edward Baldock walking home, presumably intoxicated. The women coaxed Baldock into the car and took him to a park near the Brisbane River. They promised him sexual favors, but instead, Wigginton stabbed him 27 times.
After Wigginton drank Baldock's blood, the women left his body in the park to be found in the morning. It wasn't hard to catch Wigginton - her ATM card was found in the victim's shoe.
Wigginton pleaded guilty, and Wigginton and Ptaschinski were given life sentences. On January 11, 2012, Wigginton was paroled. She can't contact the victim's family or the other women involved, but she is a free woman in most aspects. It is a condition of her parole that she can't profit from her story - for example, by writing a memoir about her experiences.