Friday, 6 March 2009
Serial Killers-5-Peter Kurten
Peter Kurten - The Dusseldorf Vampire.
Peter stands out among the German serial killers and has a particular fascination for me. Unlike Fritz Harmann, there was no element of gain concurrent with the pleasure of his murderings. Nor was he extremely psycopathic like Grossman. In fact Peter killed purely for the thrill of it, in "cold blood", as it were, and in pretty much complete control of his faculties. He chose to kill. I think he justified his actions to himself as revenge on a society that had let him down, not showed him the proper respect. And indeed had punished him with prison sentences for his "lesser" crimes.
Germany between the wars was a fairly disorganised place, and was in a state of political and social flux, so it is partially possible to see why he got away with so many killings without being caught. Also he appeared on the surface to be quite normal. He married a lady with a resentful attitude similar to his own, possibly the one person in his life that he ever treated a a human being rather than an object to be subjugated to his will. He attended church regularly.
As the soubriquet suggests, there was a cannibalistic element to his murders. That usually suggests a killer who has tried everything and has reached the ultimate degredation. When the sexual appetite has become jaded enough to break this final and deep rooted taboo, it's generally a culmination of a lifetime's experimentation with all things "perverse", and after that, apart from becoming more abandoned in his actions, there was really nowhere left for Peter to go.
That, subconsciously, is when he became careless; the desire to be released from being driven by insatiable appetites making him vulnerable to errors of judgement that simply wouldn't have happened earlier on in his serial killings. Killers of this type have often to be "opportunist"" and grab their victims where they can, but to take one into his home, then allow her to leave unharmed, was definitely a sign that his reign of terror was becoming wearying to him. After all, being born in to a dysfunctional and abusive family, he had been practising sexual perversions since early childhood, starting with attempted rape and bestiality, and culminating in the first of his serial killings, the sexually motivated mutilation and murder of an eight year old girl.
His final intended victim kept her word not to say anything verbally, but a letter she wrote to a friend describing her experience was misdirected to a lady who was so shocked by the contents that she immediately reported it to the police. Thus the victim was contacted and asked by the police to show them where this person lived. She was able to remember his apartment in the Mettermanstrasse and took them straight there. That was the end of Peter Kurten's serial killings, based loosely in fantasy on the "Jack The Ripper" murders, for whom he had a great admiration.
Kurten was guillotined for his crimes in July 1931. His final wish was that he would hear his blood gushing out of his neck when his head was severed. Well, they do say that the sense of hearing is the last thing to go. That was his idea of the ultimate thrill.