Vampires, undead humans that roam the nights and drink the blood of their victims, have gripped the human imagination for centuries. And persistent accounts of vampire activity have sprung up over the years from locations as far apart as central Europe, New England and even rural Dorset in the U.K. Here we list ten of the most chilling vampire reports from the archives.
Back in 1725 a certain Serbian peasant called Petar Blagojevich died, an unremarkable enough fact in itself. But shortly after Blagojevich’s death, nine other villagers died, with each victim succumbing after a strangely short illness. And shockingly, Blagojevich was reported as rising from the dead and demanding food from his own son.
When his son denied Blagojevich’s request, the vampire murdered him and drank his blood. Villagers then exhumed Blagojevich’s body to look for evidence of vampirism such as a lack of decomposition – evidence that they duly found. Petrified, the locals hammered a stake through the corpse’s heart and set the body alight.
In that same year of 1725, another Serbian man died in an accident. Before his death, Arnold Paole had told fellow villagers that a Turkish vampire had assaulted him. However, Paole claimed that he had countered the effects of this by dining on soil from the vampire’s tomb. Mysteriously, some three weeks after Paole had supposedly died, four villagers came forward to say they had been bitten by him. The villagers were all dead within days.
Other people from the village decided to dig up Paole and found blood pouring from his orifices. Concluding he must be a vampire, they staked his heart while he screamed in agony. They then beheaded him and burned his body, before treating the corpses of the four unfortunates he’d bitten in the same way.
Myslata of Blau was a 14th century shepherd who lived in a village in Bohemia, in what is now the Czech Republic. Myslata died but began to reappear to villagers, calling out their names. Those whose names he called were doomed to die within eight days.
Myslata’s body was exhumed and a stake driven through the heart – yet still he appeared. So his corpse was dug up a second time. Then an executioner thrust more stakes into the body and burned it, with Myslata roaring in pain throughout the procedure. This, it seems was enough to end his reign of terror.
Before his death, the Stinking Vampire of Pentsch, to give him his rather unfortunate full name, was plain old Johannes Cuntius. A perfectly respectable man, Cuntius was also a civic official of Pentsch, a town in the modern-day Czech Republic. In 1582 Cuntius died after a horse kicked him. As he lay dying, a black cat jumped on to his deathbed, a bad omen indeed.
After Cuntius’ funeral, people started to see him wandering the town and exuding a disgusting smell. When the irate townsfolk dug Cuntius up, his body still bled if cut. The villagers did what they had to: they burned his corpse, chopped it up and crushed it to dust. That seems to have done the trick.
Bathory was born in Transylvania in 1560 with all the privileges of nobility and more – wealth, position and good looks. Her family ruled the province of Transylvania and when she was just 11 or 12 her hand in marriage was promised to the nobleman Ferenc Nádasdy. But Elizabeth then had a baby by a member of the lower orders.
Furious, her fiancé had Elizabeth’s lover castrated and fed to the dogs. However, he didn’t call off the engagement, and Nádasdy and Elizabeth married in 1575. Nádasdy died in 1604, by which time Elizabeth had taken to killing and drinking the blood of young girls, apparently believing this would sustain the beauty of her youth. The good lady was apprehended but, protected by her position, never tried. Instead, she was imprisoned in solitary confinement in a castle until her death in 1614.
Alnwick Castle is a magnificent building in Northumberland, England, and there’s been a castle at the site since 1096. But it was in the late 12th century that the historian William de Newburgh recorded the details of the Alnwick Castle vampire, a man originally from Yorkshire, England, who had been buried in a local church cemetery.
The vampire was afflicted with a hunchback, and he brought terror to the local peasantry with his devilish antics. The peasants eventually took matters into their own hands, digging up the Yorkshireman’s remains, which they hacked at with a shovel. The corpse bled, offering sure evidence that it was that of a vampire. The peasants then torched the body, ending the vampire’s undead life.
Sava Savanovi? is said to have frequented a water-powered mill on the banks of the River Roga?ica, in the village of Zarožje in Serbia. When people came to the mill to grind their grain crops into flour, evil Savanovi? would pounce. After he killed his victims he would then feast on their blood.
This century, the local authorities in Zarožje decided that the old mill should be restored and its potential as a tourist attraction realized. But the project foundered after the mill completely collapsed in 2012. Perhaps the ghost of Sava Savanovi?, unenthusiastic about his heritage being exploited in this way, had a hand in the collapse.
Jure Grando Alilovi? was born in the town of Kringa, located in contemporary Croatia, in 1597. After his death in 1656, it seems his cadaver was not content to remain peacefully in its grave. Instead, Alilovi? supposedly awoke after dark to wander and terrify the good people of Kringa.
If Alilovi? knocked on a door, someone in that house would soon perish. After 16 years of this terror, the villagers dug up Alilovi?’s corpse and tried to stake his heart. However, their spikes could not penetrate his body. So a brave villager took a saw and cut off the vampire’s head instead, the only remedy that worked in this case.
In 1990 archaeologist Nick Bellantoni was excavating some colonial-era graves in the town of Griswold, Connecticut. The graves had all the usual characteristics of informal plots from the 18th and early-19th centuries. Except for one. In one extraordinary burial the skeleton had been decapitated and the thighbones arranged in a skull and crossbones motif.
And this strange tableau had been created five years after the body had been buried. In fact, research has shown that there was a vampire panic in New England in the mid-19th century. And there were several 19th century newspaper reports of graves that had been desecrated by people apparently believing they were combating vampires.
Blandford Forum is a picturesque market town in the southern English county of Dorset, a popular tourist destination. But this tranquil community was torn asunder when a manservant called William Doggett turned to the bad and stole a large sum of money from his master.
This wretched fellow subsequently took his own life in 1762. But villagers subsequently claim to have seen him careering through the town in a ghostly horse-drawn carriage. What’s more, he also apparently took to vampirism. For when Doggett’s body was disinterred from the graveyard of the Church of St Mary at nearby Tarrant Gunville, it was found to be uncorrupted by decay.