Leonarda Cianciulli AKA The Human Flesh Soap Maker

Leonarda Cianciulli AKA The Human Flesh Soap Maker


Following on from our strangest serial killer
in the U.S., we now bring you one of the weirdest tales from the dark side of humanity. Ok, so our woman of the hour may not have
been as maniacal as lady killer Ted Bundy, or as utterly demented as Ed Gein – the
man who liked to dress in skin suits made from dead women – but she has certainly
worked her way into the serial killer hall of infamy just for originality. It’s conceivable the novel and then movie
“Fight Club” may have used her wicked deeds as inspiration regarding soap made out
of liposuction waste, so we can say she made her mark on history. Welcome to this episode of the Infographics
Show, Leonarda Cianciulli A.K.A. – The Human Flesh Soap-Maker. Ok, so there isn’t really a big reveal to
this show as the title pretty much explains what this serial killer got up to. But who was she before she started making
lumps of soap out of the people she killed? Let’s start with a short bio. Leonarda Cianciulli, aka, the human soap maker,
aka, the soap maker of Correggio (in Italian it sounds much more poetic – la Saponificatrice
di Correggio) was born in 1894 and lived until an old age, dying in 1970. Her childhood wasn’t easy, and reading about
it, you might not be surprised that she turned out, err, a little odd. Apparently, her mother was a nasty woman,
telling Leonarda that she was cursed by the devil and that her life would come to nothing. That’s not easy on a child, and when she
was a teenager she tried to commit suicide not once but twice. She was yet another serial killer with what
is known as an “overbearing mother.” She then met a fella when she got older, a
registry office clerk, but he wasn’t quite what her mother was expecting and so the man
was vociferously disapproved of. She had in total 17 kids, which is quite the
accomplishment. But unfortunately, only 4 of them lived past
the age of 10. You could say after all that heartache and
pain, she was a protective mother to those that survived. Leonarda doted on her kids, but she was full
of anger at what life had thrown at her. And it threw a lot more than dying children
and miscarriages. Perhaps it was very much her fault when she
got imprisoned for fraud at the age of 33, but when an earthquake destroyed her house
a few years later, that seemed like rotten luck again. Nonetheless, this unlucky woman was apparently
well liked in her community, if not in her own mind doomed somewhat. In fact, it’s said she even believed that
her mother was right, and indeed, she was cursed. She went to see a gypsy fortune teller, but
that just made matters a lot worse, as it’s said this is what she was told, “In your
right hand I see prison, in your left a criminal asylum.” Ok, so you kind of get the picture. This is a woman who had had a brutal life,
but on the surface of things, she looked ok. Her neighbors liked her, and she was a loving
mother to the dear children that didn’t kick the bucket before they got out of primary
school. But something sinister was lurking behind
the scenes. Imagine this: One day your neighbor, a loving
mother and good friend, the owner of a shop in town, a trusted member of the community,
invites you for cake and coffee. You accept the offer and are greeted with
some sweet-tasting cakes. Only you don’t know that the cakes are part
human. Yes, between 1939 and 1940 (when she was about
42 or 43), Leonarda murdered three women. The story goes that she wasn’t just killing
because she was inherently evil, but she believed, again, that she was cursed, and that to keep
her remaining kids alive, she had to make some sacrifices – as you do. She was particularly concerned about her favorite
son, Giuseppe, who’d just signed up to the Italian army and was about to join the battlefields
of bloody Europe. So, that’s what she did, she made some sacrifices
like those old school Aztecs who propitiated the Gods with human blood. Leonarda lured these women into her shop,
and then drugged them. After they passed out, she killed them with
an axe and then boiled their bodies in caustic soda. So far so good, but that doesn’t mean everything
just disappears. In her own diaries, Leonarda described what
was left as a “thick dark mush.” So, our killer went a step further. You might know that regular soap often contains
animal fats. So, Mrs. Cianciulli realized she could turn
human fat into soap. She actually explained this in her diaries,
“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 neighbors and acquaintances.” What a sweet gift that was, and Leonarda went
as far as to call the remains of her victims very sweet. She didn’t stop there, though. Waste not want not was likely her motto. She used part of this mush to make what she
called crunchy cakes. This wasn’t, it seems, out of rage towards
her neighbors, because she said she and her sons all ate the delicious cakes. She said of her process, “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.” Voila! Human cake. You could at least call her resourceful, which
isn’t necessarily a bad thing during a world war. But she wasn’t exactly a clever killer,
and was easily found out. You see, she didn’t just make things from
her victims, but she scammed them out of money too. She went as far as to tell these women that
she had found a great teaching job for them abroad, and just before they set off, Leonarda
coerced them write to their family and friends explaining that they would be leaving the
country for a while to work. There was no job of course, and a fate worse
than cake awaited them. One such victim, Virginia Cacioppo, had disappeared
and her sister had said the last person who had seen her was that shopkeeper called Leonarda. She didn’t buy into the teaching job and
believed a cunning canard had taken place. She was right. Later Leonarda would remark that this was
her best victim in terms of how she turned out on the plate and in the bathroom. In her diaries she wrote, “The cakes, too,
were better: that woman was really sweet.” At first the Italian cops accused Leonarda,
who denied any wrongdoing. But then the cops accused her son, good old
Giuseppe, and that was too much to bear for the doting mother. She confessed to everything, even the soap
and cake bit. Not surprisingly, this soon became a cause
celebre in Italy. The trial lasted three days, and after that,
our loving mother would spend a total of 30 years in prison and three years in an asylum. She died at age 76 from a cerebral apoplexy. She still causes shivers down people’s spines
today, as you can see her axe and other instruments, including the pot in which she boiled the
bodies, at the Criminology Museum in Rome, Italy. Well, that’s all we have to say about this
strange cannibal. Only in Italy can a cannibal turn her victim
not only into a delicious dessert, but also a sweet fragrance. What are your thoughts regarding this serial
killer? Pure evil or worthy of sympathy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video
called Worst Punishments in the History of Mankind! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t
forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

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