• 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.

  • She Wrote An Autobiography - With Recipes

    After she was convicted of murdering three women and defiling their bodies, Cianciulli spent the rest of her life behind bars. To stay busy, she wrote her memoirs. Titled An Embittered Soul’s Confessions, Cianciulli got into it about the murders and even offered up helpful hints for how the reader could turn people into soap:

    I threw the pieces into a pot, added seven kilos of caustic soda, which I had bought to make soap, and stirred the whole mixture until the pieces dissolved in a thick, dark mush that I poured into several buckets and emptied in a nearby septic tank. As for the blood in the basin, I waited until it had coagulated, dried it in the oven, ground it and mixed it with flour, sugar, chocolate, milk and eggs, as well as a bit of margarine, kneading all the ingredients together. I made lots of crunchy tea cakes and served them to the ladies who came to visit, though Giuseppe and I also ate them.

  • A Palm Reader Predicted Her Crimes

    Photo: Jeremy Plaisance / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    It seems like Cianciulli couldn't leave well enough alone with all of the fortune tellers and palm readers.

    One story about the soapy slayer alleges that she visited a palm reader in her youth who told her,  “In your right hand I see prison, in your left a criminal asylum" - which is exactly how her life turned out. 

  • Cianciulli Openly Admitted to Her Horrifying Crimes

    It didn't take long for her final victim's sister-in-law to figure out that something was up. She knew that Virginia had been to the soap-maker's house, and after she told the police about her suspicions, that's where they eventually ended up.

    Rather than hide her crimes, Cianciulli openly admitted to slaying the women and disposing of their bodies. 

  • She Perished In A Criminal Asylum

    Photo: Ma-Sor / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    Cianciulli was found guilty of murder in 1940 and spent her remaining years behind bars. She would spend the last three years of her life in the women’s criminal asylum in Pozzuoli.

    On October 15, 1970, she perished from cerebral apoplexy, which is similar to a stroke.