Peter Kurten "Dusseldorf Vampire"

by: Taylor Bishop

Early life

Peter Kurten was a german serial killer born in Köln-Mullheim, a suburb of Cologne, Germany on May 26, 1883 to a poor & abusive household. Kurten was the oldest of 13 kids, his father was an alcoholic with very cruel tendencies. For most of Kurten's childhood his father brutalized both him and his siblings along with his mother, in the one room apartment they all shared.

Kurten's Influence

Where it all started

Kurten was subjected daily to sexual violence. This must have had an immense influence on the boy, who at age 9, formed a not so healthy relationship with a dog-catcher who lived in the same building as Kurten. The Dog-catcher introduced Kurten to the practice of beastiality than was initially carried out on dogs.

His first victims

Kurten Claims to have drowned 2 of his school friends when he was 9. He pushed one of them in, the other jumped in to his rescue, Kurten held both of them under water until they drowned. At the time the event was dismissed as a tragic childhood accident.
As Kurten got older his beastiality extended to sheep, goats, and other farm animals. By 1899, at the age of 16 Kurten ran away trying to escape the violence that occurred at home. Shortly after his departure, his father was arrested for incestuous relations with Kürten's 13-year old sister, and he was jailed for three years.
Once Kurten was given many short prison sentences The appalling conditions within the prisons confirmed his sadistic tendencies, which he now transferred from farm animals to humans.


During the periods of breaks between prison sentences Kurten committed many sexual assaults. His first documented murder victim was 10 year old Christine Klein. She was raped than stabbed in her home in Cologne, on May 25, 1913, while her parents worked in their pub below her bedroom.
Kurten was called for for military service following the start of World War I, soon after he decided military discipline did not suit him so he ran away. When he was captured he was put in prison, and remained in prison until 1921, his longest sentence yet.

After Prison

Once he was released from prison he moved to Altenburg, where he met and married a former prostitute, who had previously been in prison for the murder of her Fiance.
He spent the next four years living a life of relatively normal life although this didn't last long. He moved to Dusseldorf where his criminal tendencies escalated. He once again committed many murders. Investigators believed that the he might be drinking the blood of his victims, this is how Kurten got the title of the "Vampire of Dusseldorf."

Arrest & Trial

Throughout Kurten's many awful mistakes and horrid lifestyle he maintained a fond attachment to his wife. He realized that he would soon be caught for his crimes and wanted to ensure her financial security following his arrest. He confessed to her that he was the "Dusseldorf Vampire", and completely confessed to her everything he had done with great detail. He insisted that she would be paid a large reward for turning him over to the authorities.

His Arrest

On May 24,1930, Frau Kürten reluctantly did as he her husband advised, and took the police to their designated rendezvous site, a local church, where Kürten surrendered quietly. Once he was arrested he provided a huge amount of disgustingly detailed informations about the crimes he has commited to Professor Karl Berg, a distinguished psychologist, who later published the confession in a book entitled The Sadist. He claimed 79 individual acts of crime in all, and went to great lengths to convince the authorities of his guilt, perhaps in the hope that his full cooperation would ensure the maximum financial benefit for his wife.
Kürten's trial happened on April 13, 1931, on charges including nine murders and seven attempted murders. To outward appearances a successful businessman in a well-tailored suit, he initially retracted his extensive confession, claiming that he had sought only to ensure his wife's financial security.

The end

However, exhaustive questioning by the examining magistrate, and a damning litany of evidence, over the subsequent two months, caused him to eventually admit guilt while under interrogation. In an emotionless voice, Kürten claimed that his childhood, and the German penal system, was responsible for releasing his sadistic tendencies, and he showed no remorse for his crimes.

The jury took only 90 minutes to return a verdict of guilty on all counts, and Kürten received nine death sentences. He was executed by guillotine on July 2, 1931, in Cologne, Germany.

Sources A&E Networks Television. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.

"Peter Kurten | German Serial Killer." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.

"Peter Kürten | Murderpedia, the Encyclopedia of Murderers." Peter Kürten | Murderpedia, the Encyclopedia of Murderers. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.

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