“I hope I hear my own blood gurgle”
Born on 26 May 1883, the third of 13 children, in Cologne-Mulheim in Germany, Peter Kurten had an incestuous relationship with one of his sisters. Kurten’s taste for sadism was awakened by the local dog catcher who taught the boy to masturbate the dogs and allowed him to watch while the dog catcher tortured them.
In 1892 two friends of Kurten’s drowned in the Rhine and it is likely that he was responsible for at least one, if not both, of the deaths. When he was 13, Kurten began practising bestiality and discovered he got pleasure from stabbing a sheep at the same time he was having sex with it. He was jailed for the first time when he was 15 — having been convicted of theft — the first of 17 sentences covering 27 years.
In November 1899 Kurten claimed he committed his first murder, strangling a girl during sex, but no body was ever found. He spent most of the period between 1900 and 1904 behind bars. In 1905, having deserted from the army, he was jailed for seven years for theft. Released in 1912, he was convicted of a shooting in a restaurant and jailed again.
On 25 May 1913 in Wolfsrasse, Cologne he murdered and sexually assaulted 13-year-old Christine Klein. Later that year, he was jailed for an unrelated offence. In 1921 he was released and met a woman who had shot a man who jilted her. This was the only human for whom Kurten felt normal affection. Even so, she did not agree to marry hint until he threatened to murder her.
In 1925 they moved to Dusseldorf where Kurten began the reign of terror that led to him being dubbed the “Monster of Dusseldorf” attacking four women and starting 17 fires. In 1929 his reign began in earnest assaulting men, women and young girls.
In the autumn and winter of that year Kurten attacked and raped ten women and girls. On 14 May 1930 he “rescued” an unemployed maid, Maria Budlick, 21, from the advances of another man at Dusseldorf station and took her home where he fed her. He then told her he was taking her to a hostel but as soon as they were alone he tried to have sex with her and strangle her. Asking her if she remembered where he lived, Maria said no so Kurten let her go. Reluctantly, she later led police to Kurten’s home. Realizing he faced arrest, he confessed to his wife and on 24 May 1930 she went to the police. The reign of terror was over.
Grafenberger Wald, Düsseldorf, Germany
1899 — Wednesday 14 May 1930
Peter Kurten’s trial began on 13 April 1931 and a psychiatrist described Kurten as “the king of sexual perverts”. The trial ended on 23 April and the jury took 90 minutes to find him guilty of nine murders. He was beheaded at 6am on 2 July 1931. He is reported to have said, “I hope I hear my own blood gurgle” as he was led to the guillotine.