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A.K.A.: "The Vampire of Barcelona"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Child murderer, kidnapper and procuress of children
Number of victims: 10 +
Date of murder: 1902 - 1912
Date of arrest: February 27, 1912
Date of birth: 1868
Victim profile: Children
Method of murder: ???
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Status: Never tried. Died in prison on May 12, 1913
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Enriqueta Martí i Ripollés (Sant Feliu de Llobregat 1868 – Barcelona 12 May 1913) was a Spanish child murderer, kidnapper and procuress of children.

Early life

As a young woman, Enriqueta moved from her hometown of Sant Feliu de Llobregat to Barcelona where she worked as a maidservant and nanny, but soon she turned to prostitution, both in brothels and in places dedicated to this activity, like the Port of Barcelona or the Portal de Santa Madrona.

In 1895 she married a painter called Joan Pujaló, but the marriage failed. According to Pujaló Enriqueta's affairs with other men, her strange, false, unpredictable character, and her continuous visits to houses of disrepute caused the separation. In spite of marriage, she continued to visit locales of prostitution and people of doubtful virtue. The pair reconciled and separated approximately six times. At the time of Enriqueta's detention in 1912 the couple had been separated for five years and had not had children.

Enriqueta was leading a double life. During the day she dressed in rags and begged at houses of charity, convents and parishes in the destitute parts of town where she selected children who looked the most abandoned. Taking the children by the hand, she made them pass as her children. Later, she prostituted or murdered them. She did not have any need to beg since her double work as a procurer and prostitute gave her sufficient money to live well. By night she dressed in luxurious clothes, hats and wigs, and attended the El Liceu, the Casino de la Arrabassada and other places where the wealthy of Barcelona gathered. It is probable that in these places she offered her services as procurer of children.

In 1909, on the Tragic Week, she was arrested in her flat on Minerva Street in Barcelona, accused of running a brothel that offered sexual services from children between the ages of 3 and 14 years. With her, a young man of a wealthy family was arrested. Thanks to her contacts with high Barcelona society that were contracting her services as procurer of children, Enriqueta was never tried and the matter of the brothel was lost in the judicial and bureaucratic system.

At the same time as she was prostituting children, she was also practicing as a witch-doctor. The ingredients she used to make her remedies were made from the remains of the children that she was killing, who ranged from infants up to children of 9 years. From these children she used everything that she could; the fat, blood, hair, and bones (that normally she turned into powder). For this reason, she did not have problems disposing of the bodies of her victims. Enriqueta offered salves, ointments, filters, cataplasms and potions, especially to treat tuberculosis, which was highly feared at the time, and all kinds of diseases that did not have a cure in traditional medicine. Wealthy people were paying large sums of money for these remedies.

It is suspected that she kidnapped an indeterminate, though large, number of children, since she operated over a span of twenty years. She was finally arrested in a flat in El Raval, mezzanine number 29 of Ponent Street (today Joaquim Costa Street). More evidence was found in flats in Barcelona where she had lived previously.

The forensic experts managed to differentiate a total of twelve children with what little evidence they were able to recover. In spite of suspicions, and because Enriqueta did not tally her activities, experts are unsure if she was deadliest killer that has existed in Spain. It is clear that she acted for many years in Barcelona. Additionally, the public suspected that someone was kidnapping babies. There were many children who disappeared without a trace and there was dread among the population.

Mezzanine number 29, Ponent Street

On February 10, 1912 she kidnapped her last victim: Teresita Guitart Congost. For two weeks the city looked for her and, in the midst of the search, there was great public indignation since the authorities had been extremely passive regarding the missing children. It would be a suspicious neighbor, Claudia Elías, who would find Teresita's trail. On February 17, Elías saw a girl with cropped hair looking from a casement from the interior court of her stairs. The flat was mezzanine number 29, Ponent Street.

Elías had never seen this girl. The little one was playing with another child and Claudia asked her neighbor when she saw her appear in the window if the girl was hers. The neighbor in question was Enriqueta Martí, who closed the window without saying a word. Surprised, Claudia Elías commented on the fact to a mattress-maker down the street, and that she suspected that the little girl was Teresita Guitart Congost. She also informed him of the strange life that her neighbor was leading. The mattress-maker informed a municipal agent, Jose Asens of Claudia's suspicions. He, in turn, communicated this to the chief of the Ribot brigade.

On February 27, with the excuse of a complaint about the possession of chickens in the flat, the Ribot and two more agents went to look for Enriqueta. They found her in the court of Ferlandina Street and informed her of the accusation, then escorted her to her flat. She proved to be surprised but did not object.

When the policemen entered, two girls were found in the flat. One of them was Teresita Guitard Congost and another girl called Angelita. After a statement, Teresita was returned to her parents. She explained how Enriqueta took her by the hand promising her candies. Teresita realized that she was being taken too far from her house and wanted to return so Enriqueta covered her with a black rag and forced her to the flat at mezzanine number twenty-nine.

After reaching the flat, Enriqueta cut Teresita's hair and changed her name to Felicidad. She then told the child she no longer had parents and was to call her "step mother" from then on. Enriqueta fed Teresita potatoes and stale bread, and preferred to pinch rather than beat the child. The girl was prohibited from going out to the windows and balconies as well as several rooms in the flat.

Teresita also told authorities that Enriguita was in the habit of leaving the two girls alone and that one day they risked exploring the rooms that Enriqueta forbade them to enter. In this adventure they found a sack with girl’s clothes covered with blood and a boning knife also covered with blood. Teresita never left the flat during her captivity.

Angelita's declaration was more frightening. Before Teresita's arrival to the flat, there was a five-year-old boy called Pepito. Angelita said that she secretly saw Enriqueta, who she was calling “mom”, kill him on the kitchen table. Enriqueta did not realize that the girl had seen her and Angelita ran to hide in the bed and pretended to sleep. Angelita's identity was more difficult to pinpoint because of the vagueness of Enriqueta's first statements. The girl did not know her real surname and affirmed Enriqueta’s claim that her father was called Juan.

Enriqueta maintained that Angelita was her daughter by her estranged husband Juan Pujaló. Pujaló presented himself before the judge of his own will, after he discovered his wife's arrest, and declared that he had not lived with her for years, that they had not had children and that he did not know from where Angelita came. Eventually, Enriqueta stated that she had taken Angelita as a newborn from her sister-in-law, whom she made believe that the girl had died at birth. Enriqueta Martí Ripollés was detained and deposited in the “Reina Amalia” prison.

In the second inspection of the flat, detectives found the sack the with bloody clothing and the knife. They also found another sack with dirty clothes and at least thirty human bones of small dimensions. The bones showed evidence that they were exposed to fire. Investigators found a lounge sumptuously decorated with a cupboard with nice clothes for a boy and girl. This lounge contrasted with the rest of the flat, which was austere and impoverished and smelled badly. In another locked room they found the horror that Enriqueta Martí was hiding. In it, there were fifty pitchers, jars and washbowls with preserved human remains: greasy lard, coagulated blood, children’s hair, skeletons of hands, powdered bones and pots with the potions, ointments and salves already prepared for sale.

Investigators also went to two more flats where Enriqueta had lived: a flat in the Tallers Street, a third in Picalqués Street, and a little house in Jocs Florals Street, in Sants. In both of them they found false walls and, in the ceilings, human remains. In the garden of the house on Jocs Florals Street, they found a skull of a three-year-old child and a series of bones that corresponded to 3, 6 and 8-year-old children. Some remains still had pieces of clothes, such as a darned sock, which gave an understanding that Enriqueta had habitually kidnapped children of impoverished families and of scanty means to look for their missing children.

Further investigation revealed more housing in Sant Feliu de Llobregat, property of Enriqueta's family. Here they found remains of children in vases and jars as well as books of remedies. The house belonged to the Martí family and was known in the population by the nickname of "Lindo". Juan Pujaló claimed he was barred from the property because of the bad administration of Enriqueta’s father.

In Ponent's flat they found curious things: an ancient book with parchment covers, a book of notes where she had written recipes and potions in elegant calligraphy, a package of letters and notes written in coded language and a list with names of families and very important figures in Barcelona. This list was very controversial since among the population it was believed that it was the list of Enriqueta's rich clients. The public believed that the suspected clients would not pay for their crimes of pedophilia or of buying human remains to treat their health because of their wealth. The police tried to stop the list from leaking, but rumors ran that it was a client list of doctors, politicians, businessmen and bankers.

The authorities had the Tragic Week fresh in their minds and, out of the fear of a public riot, they calmed the public with newspaper articles explaining that in the famous list were the names of people to whom Enriqueta begged and that these families and personalities had been swindled by the lies and requests of the murderer.

Enriqueta was imprisoned in the "Reina Amàlia" jail to await judgement. She tried to commit suicide by slashing her wrists with a knife of wood. Public indignation exploded because the people wanted Enriqueta face trial and execution by the garrote. The authorities of the prison made known through the press that measures had been taken to ensure that Enriqueta was not left alone. Three inmates with more authority in the prison were sharing cell with her. They had instructions to uncover her in bed when she had covered herself to avoid any hidden suicide attempt.

Enriqueta was never tried for her crimes. She died a year and three months after her arrest and past the public outrage, at the hands of her prison mates. Her companions in prison killed her by lynching her on one of the prison patios. The untimely death of Enriqueta robbed authorities of the opportunity to completely expose all of her secrets. The kidnapper and murderer died the early morning of May 12, 1913, officially of a long illness, but the truth was as a consequence of a brutal beating. She was buried secretly in a common grave of the Cementerio del Sudoeste, situated on the mountain of Montjuïc in Barcelona.

Enriqueta's declarations, testimonies

Enriqueta had changed her surname, Martí, to Marina. With this surname she leased floors and flats of which she almost always missed paying the rent. During interrogation, she confessed her real surname, this was corroborated by the testimony of her husband, Juan Pujaló.

She was interrogated about the presence of Teresita Guitart in her house and she gave the explanation that she had found the girl lost and hungry the day before in the Ronda de Sant Pau. Claudia Elías denied this because she had seen the girl in her flat several days before the arrest.

Enriqueta was also questioned about the presence of bones, human remains, creams, potions, poultices, ointments, blood bottles prepared to sell, as well as the boning knife. Interrogators asked if she had subjected the bones to high temperatures, i.e. had been burned or cooked, as forensics suggested. Enriqueta first argued that she made studies of human anatomy. Under pressure from the interrogation she ended up confessing that she was healer and used children as raw material for the production of her remedies. She claimed to be an expert and knew how to make the best remedies and that her preparations were highly sought after by wealthy people of good social position.

During interrogation she disclosed the locations of her other flats (Tallers Street, Picalqués, Jocs Florals and her home in Sant Feliu de Llobregat), and told investigators where to look inside them. She was already known for and confessed to her services as a procurer for pedophiles. However, out of anger at the fate that awaited her, Enriqueta did not name a single customer.

Investigators knew of the existence of the little boy known as "Pepito" both by the testimony of Angelita and by that of Claudia Elias, whom she had seen on occasion. Enriqueta claimed Pepito had been entrusted to her by a family that could not care for him. When asked for his whereabouts, she said that he was not with her, that he had gone to the country because he had become ill. She had also used this excuse with her inquiring neighbor, Claudia Elías. Overwhelming evidence and testimony by Angelita shattered this excuse. She was not able to refute bloody clothes in a sack, the knife and some remnants of fresh fat, blood and bones. These remains were those of Pepito. Nor could she identify the family that had entrusted her with the child, making it clear that the boy was another kidnapped child.

An Aragonese woman from Alcañiz recognized her as the kidnapper of her infant son, some six years earlier, in 1906. Enriqueta displayed an extraordinary kindness to the exhausted and hungry woman after a very long journey from their land and was allowed to hold the child. With an excuse, she moved away from the mother then disappeared. The unfortunate mother never found her son nor came to know what she did with him. It is suspected that she used the baby to manufacture her remedies.

Enriqueta tried to pass Angelita as her daughter by Juan Pujaló. She even taught the girl to say that her father was called Juan, but the girl was completely unaware of who Juan was and she had never seen her supposed father. Pujaló denied that the girl was his, for he had never seen her before and claimed that Enriqueta had faked a pregnancy and childbirth in the past. A medical examination corroborated that Enriqueta had not ever delivered. The final testimony of Enriqueta was that Angelita was actually the daughter whom she had stolen from her sister-in-law, Maria Pujaló, whom she had assisted in childbirth, making her believe that the child had died at birth in order to keep her.

Enriqueta Martí in literature

  • Los diarios de Enriqueta Martí by Pierrot. A novel that centers on a few supposed diaries that Enriqueta Martí wrote before beginning her murderous career. Illustrated by the author.

  • El misterio de la calle Poniente by Fernando Gómez. In February, 1912 the disappearance of a three-year-old girl shocked Barcelona. The investigation and the later discoveries showed to the public a series of macabre murders that shook a city that was recovering from the Tragic Week. The book strolls over many prominent figures who helped to shape the story. Individuals of flesh and bone, many of them incapable of being the protagonists of their own story. Seen separately only they have the value of the anecdotal thing, but on the set they converge to outline faithfully the authentic face of the merciless Enriqueta Martí, who begs by day, dresses as a marquise by night, and knows the power from the darkest side. The fresh blood is her valued goods, the children her suppliers and a sick middle class her clients.

  • El Cielo Bajo los Pies by Elsa Plaza. A case that shocked Barcelona in 1912. Enriqueta Martí, called by the derisive names "The Vampiress of Barcelona" and "The Bad Woman", was besieged by all kinds of rumors from the same moment in which the police arrested her, accusing her of making children disappear with the most aberrant intentions, from turning them into objects of pleasure for the wealthy, up to making cosmetics and salves to prolong life. Nevertheless, when a young and indomitable journalist puts all her determination in discerning what hides under these sensational cases of missing children and child exploitation, there is not a delay as the eyes arise before a plot that one forks toward the most unexpected scenes: from the Parisian suburbs to the luxurious flats of the high Catalan middle class, from the caberets and the brothels of the poorest neighborhoods to the casinos and posh dance halls, the extent of exploitation is presented. Martí is presented as a possible scapegoat and a number of impoverished families are accused of selling their children, albeit out of desperation.


A Terrible True Story of Horror and Social Hypocrisy

Hidden behind the insipid name of Enriqueta Martí i Ripollés, there is the lady who in 1912 was sadly and famous better known with the truculent nickname of the Vampire of Barcelona. She starred one of the most atrocious stories of terror and social hypocrisy lived in Barcelona, and maybe in all Europe, in the early 20th century. This woman was a terrible serial killer of children. The main difference with other ones is that she never did it because any kind of mental disease but because it was her business, providing with it, some of the most disgusting and perverted inner needs of the high society ladies and gentlemen of the Barcelona of that era.

Even I known the basic plot of the case – as nearly any Barcelona citizen, with a minimum of interest in the history of the anecdotic facts of its own city – it hasn’t until I read about the publishing of two new books about, I didn’t go a bit further for knowing and thinking about it. I don’t want to read those books – even if they are masterpieces of historical investigation – because I had far enough with what I read at the net tonight: I am sure it will be a great pleasure for the most refined lovers of gore stories, which is not my case. What fascinated – and freaked me up – more it has been how this case talks about the darker side of our society and even ourselves.

But who was Enriqueta Martí i Ripollés, really?

This woman was a looking good young girl when she came to Barcelona at the late 19th decades. She start working as servant in several bourgeois houses. Soon she realized he would earn a lot more money taking profit at her beauty and sweetness working as prostitute. After a time doing this job she learnt a lot about some of the darker and rotten wishes some humans have and, after saving enough money to rent a nice apartment, she decided to open her own brothel in 1909. But not a normal one: Enriqueta Martí used her sweetness and sneaky abilities to kidnap kids – from five to fifteen years old! - and use them as prostitutes for some of the richest and fully depravated men of Barcelona.

1909 was a shocking year for Barcelona. The city suffered the social rebellion called ‘La Setmana Tràgica’ (The Tragic Week) along which about forty churches were burnt. Enriqueta Martí brothel was discovered by the police as well. But some hidden hand, from a mysterious ‘one’, who had a high influence, helped her to get out the jail. Since then, she started an even more terrible business, in a new place, in the middle of the Raval quarter, a very poor zone of the city. I must to say, to be honest, that then the analphabetic population died because illness and misery.

The new business consisted in to kidnap children from three to twelve years old. Once she got them, she used some for depravation, as she did before the arrest. But now, she decided to select some of them for being killed for taking out their fat, blood and bones to create her own elixirs and ‘facial crèmes’. With that final product, she provided a selected group of distinguished ladies from the high society of Barcelona. Those ladies known very well from where all those products came, but they considered poor children nothing more than a piece of rubbish. Then, it was extended the superstition that the blood of young kids were good for long life, and their fat great for conserving a young skin.

During the day, Enriqueta were dressed in very poor style. It was the best way for avoiding to be suspicious when she were looking for the best kid to kidnap. She ever went where kids looked more abandoned, waiting for the bread queue in front the nuns monasteries and other places like that. At the fall of night, she usually went out home dressed as she was a marquis, wearing the most expensive jewellery even. Then she went to El Liceu (the glamourish Opera Palace in Barcelona) when she enjoyed the plays or attended the call of some well connected new owner. In fact, it seems El Liceu was her main field of operations. Some people from the high society were their best clients there: the gentlemen for the children prostitution and the women for the cosmetic products.

The disappeared children were always kids from the most miserable families. The fact that somebody were kidnapping them, for some mysterious reasons, started to be obvious. Even without having the mass media of nowadays, rumours spread rapidly between the population. Although, the Barcelona mayor did not take the rumours about kidnapped children seriously at all. In fact, late in 1911 the mayor of Barcelona issued a statement saying that there was no basis to the rumours which had been circulating in the city. He officially stated that children were not being kidnapped and murdered. Unfortunately for everybody, at that time the rumours were painfuly true.

Thanks to a nosy neighbour, the truth was discovered and it went further than never nobody could imagine. The police still rescued a poor seven years old girl, still alive, who lived in a true regime of slavery. Sadly, they weren’t in time to save the last dead victim of the woman, Pepito, a boy of seven, killed just some few days before. Enriqueta had several apartments along all the city. In one of them, she killed and made her horrible works with the bodies. In another one, she lived with the kids. In the last one – a very luxurious place, indeed – she had the brothel, where rich important people of the politic, business and even art world, enjoyed degenerated orgiastic ceremonies of blood and sex. The police (poor guys, imagine their nausea) found pieces of at least ten bodies, perfectly prepared in what was a true factory for cosmetic products.

In 1912, Enriqueta Martí, at the age of 43 years old and still being a nice looking woman, got in to the jail. At that time it still existed the death penalty in my country, but the inspector of police took that case as something personal. He wanted to pull out the yarn until know all the truth about the list of the rich clients of Enriqueta. The newspapers of the time started a series of chronicles about the case, that were first page not only in Catalonia but in all Spain for weeks. But the judgements seemed never arrive. In fact, It seems that Enriqueta said: “My clients maybe were monsters but not me.” And this is for me one of the keys of all that terrible story. To say the truth – even what the women did makes me vomit, don’t get me wrong, please! – I quite agree with her. She was not a psychotic killer as el Sacamantecas, Jack the Ripper or even fiction ones as Hannibal Lecter or Norman Bates, but a normal woman – a very intelligent one – who just had no moral prejudice and, in the coldest way you can imagine, she worked straight, thinking only in her own benefits. For her, all she made was just “her business” and nothing else more.

But once again, the clients had to be a lot more powerful than the police and the journalists imagined. Never nobody could discover who were in that mysterious list. Enriqueta tried to kill herself two times. She finally were lynched by her own comrades at the jail.

Oof, end of story! (I feel exhausted after to write it. I only copied and pasted a little bit from a page I found at the net in the paragraph when I talk bout the rumours. Anyway, this is a bitch of story!) Since I read it all (and with even a lot more details I expressly missed, all them going into the straight morbid world) I thought a lot – who can’t stay without think about, after to know it? – and yes, it was obvious that the first thing what atonished me the most was how the Barcelona bourgeois could be so hypocrite and rotten. It seems that all that people were known for their charity activities and such kind of things as well. But then, after thinking a littel bit more, I thought in our own hypocrisy. In some way, we do a little bit like that, while we shut up the mouth.

Before to go to the bed (and to have terrible nightmares) I was talking with a friend about it and he said some very wise words: ”People does what they can do. If society allows you to buy slaves, people buy slaves. That’s all.” It is so true! We do what we are used to, and lot of times without asking from where it comes or where it goes our decision. If TV programs are a shit, we watch them. If they are great we watch them too. Why not? If some day, somebody else decide to make a TV program in which the audience can “enjoy” the image of a sort of Enriqueta torturing a kid, this program will be a big success. It is so easy to go into the degenerated side of life! For anyone of us, but for the society as a whole as well. So it’s so difficult to built anything, it's also very easy to destroy. We need thousands of years to build a civilization and just a bombing race falling from the air to delete it. We become used to the best and the worst very easily. The new generations are used t seeing women having more rights than in the past and racism is looked now as a bad thing. But to be used to the contrary it's too so easy! Each time a politic decision stoles us a right, there is a generation who protest against it. But the next generation, who never lived enjoying that right, why they should the need to miss it? We dont't miss what we ignore even its existence.

The history of the humanity is full of things that will remain lost forever. And all those things were the most important ones for a lot of generations. The past of time made become all those things useless and even forgotten. To kill poor kids and use thier fat for ‘facial crème’ is horrible to our eyes, but there are not a few amount of other shit in what we are doing in the world. In fact, thousands of kids are dying of misery, working even 18 hours per day, to make the cheapest products we buy. We, the poor people, are who buy them the most, even. It's easy to point our finger to that Barcelona high society, but we do something which isn’t so far. Just because it is not so obvious (we don’t go to El Liceu's best seats, we don’t have a Rolls Royce, blah, blah, blah) but we survive thanks to the injustice that exists in our world. We buy a toy for our kids by Christmas and that can be a great illusion for all the family. How nice Christmas are for all of us and how nice are our traditions! But behind each toy, behind even a cheap fifty leaves notebook, there exists the horror, the exploitation, the human pain and the blood.

It is horrible.



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