• Graveyard Shift

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.

  • 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

    Photo: Sharon Hahn Darlin / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    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.

  • Her Third Victim Was Also Offered A Job 

    Virginia Cacioppo was a former opera singer, who at 53 was out of work and desperate.

    So when Cianciulli said that she found the perfect job for an ex-opera singer, working as a secretary to a "mysterious theater impresario" in Florence, Cacioppo jumped at the chance.

  • The Opera Singer

    In her memoir, Cianciulli wrote about the opera singer:

    She ended up in the pot, like the other two... her flesh was fat and white, when it had melted I added a bottle of cologne, and after a long time on the boil I was able to make some most acceptable creamy soap. I gave bars to neighbours and acquaintances. The cakes, too, were better: that woman was really sweet.