16 Gruesome Facts About Serial Killer & Soap-Maker Leonarda Cianciulli
Leonarda Cianciulli is a lesser-known serial killer who committed horrific acts with the bodies of the three women she killed in 1939 and 1940 in Italy.
Like a lot of 20th-century serial killers, Cianciulli never shied away from publicity, and she was upfront with police about her murders, even though she knew that copping to the insane details of the case would ensure that she spent the rest of her life behind bars.
On the outside, Leonarda Cianciulli was a sweet little lady who was friends with her neighbors and baked delicious tea cakes, but hiding behind that mask was the soul of a murderer who believed in the magical properties of human sacrifice.
She Made Soap and Tea Cakes Out of Her Victims' BodiesPhoto: Hari Vinayak Santhosh / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
The most well-known part of Leonarda Cianciulli's story is that she used caustic soda, an industrial solvent used to break down wood, to dissolve human bodies. It can also be used to make a harsh soap if it's mixed with fat or meat from a human.
In order to make cake out a person, she simply let her victim's blood coagulate, then she dried it out in an oven and mixed it with flour. From there, she would use the flour to make cakes and give them out to her neighbors.
A Fortune Teller Told Her She Needed to Make Human Sacrifices to Save Her ChildrenPhoto: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Leonarda Cianciulli has been described as "superstitious" by a number of biographers for taking a fortune teller's words to heart.
The psychic told her that all of her children would perish, and that the only way she could save them was through human sacrifice.
She Was Pregnant 17 Times, But Only Four Children Survived to AdulthoodPhoto: Activism / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Cianciulli became pregnant 17 times, but suffered three miscarriages, then 10 of her children perished when they were still young.
The strain of losing 13 children may have contributed to her paranoia about the safety of the remaining four.
Her Son Was in the Army, and She Was Convinced Human Sacrifice Would Save HimPhoto: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
After learning from a fortune teller that all of her children would perish, Cianciulli freaked out.
To add gasoline to the superstitious flame, her son joined the Italian army, which in her mind was akin to a death sentence.
Her First Victim Was a Lonely Spinster Lured with the Promise of a Husband
Cianciulli's first victim, Faustina Setti, was lured into Cianciulli's web with the promise of a husband who was waiting for her in Pola, Italy. Cianciulli convinced Setti to tell no one about the marriage, and to write letters and postcards to her friends and relatives to send once she arrived in Pola.
But there was no suitor waiting for her, only Cianciulli's ax.
Her Second Victim Thought She Had a Job Waiting for Her
Francesca Soavi, Cianciulli's second victim, was enticed by the slayer with the promise of a job at the girls’ school in Piacenza, Italy.
Cianciulli gave instructions to Soavi that were similar to those she gave to her first victim. Soavi was told to tell no one about her departure and instructed to write postcards to her friends and family that she could send once she arrived at the school. But, of course, there was no job.