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Leonarda Cianciulli: The Deadly Soap Maker of Coreggio
TRUE CRIME...

Leonarda Cianciulli: The Deadly Soap Maker of Coreggio

4 min read
Leonarda Cianciulli: The Deadly Soap Maker of Coreggio

Leonarda Cianciulli looked like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth. But she killed people and made them into soap. Brutal!

The History of Leonarda Cianciulli

She was a kind, gentle. traditional “Italian Mama.” Leonarda Cianciulli was born in 1893 and, having endured a grim childhood and a dreary life – born out of rape to her mother and then apparently “cursed” by her for choosing to marry a different man than her mother had wished – Leonarda and her husband endured their marital home being destroyed by an earthquake in 1930, which led their family to relocate to the small, rural Italian town of Corregio.

image 17 | Stay at Home Mum.com.au

It was here she set up a small shop and quickly assimilated into her new community. She was known as being warm, personable and popular among her neighbours. However, in 1939 the fateful news arrived that her eldest child – a son – was destined to fight in the Italian Army in World War II. Belief in the curse placed on her by her mother, coupled with prophecies revealed to her by a Gypsy fortune-teller years earlier that suggested “all her children would die” and following 17 pregnancies resulting in 3 miscarriages and 10 deaths of children in their youth, Leonarda’s fear for the loss of her eldest child, Giuseppe, led her to “bargain with her maker” in an attempt to “protect him”.

Leonarda Cianciulli Starts Killing

She carried out three human sacrifices – all middle-aged, female neighbours. The first of the women was coming to Leonarda for advice in finding a husband, and second and third for employment. Leonarda had devised a plan to tell her first victims they had found a suitable suitor or job in a nearby town. She had the victims arrive on the day they were intending to meet the mysterious suitor, or travel to the new employer, with letters/postcards to send to their family to advise them of their whereabouts (and apparent safety).

The excited women, filled with promise, would arrive one by one at Leonarda’s home. As instructed, they would bring letters to family which would be mailed before they met their demise. On their “big day” she would drug them with wine and kill them with an axe. As for disposing of the bodies, what are Italian Mamas best known for? Their skills in the kitchen, of course!

Her first victim, after killing with an axe, she described in her own words as:

“I threw the pieces into a pot, added seven kilos of caustic soda, which I had bought to make soap, and stirred the whole mixture until the pieces dissolved in a thick, dark mush that I poured into several buckets and emptied in a nearby septic tank. As for the blood in the basin, I waited until it had coagulated, dried it in the oven, ground it and mixed it with flour, sugar, chocolate, milk and eggs, as well as a bit of margarine, kneading all the ingredients together. I made lots of crunchy tea cakes and served them to the ladies who came to visit, though Giuseppe and I also ate them.”

image 19 | Stay at Home Mum.com.au


The second victim met the same demise, however Leonarda’s third victim was similarly axed and melted down, but in addition to becoming tea-cakes:

“She ended up in the pot, like the other two”¦her flesh was fat and white. When it had melted I added a bottle of cologne, and after a long time on the boil I was able to make some most acceptable creamy soap. I gave bars to neighbours and acquaintances. The cakes, too, were better, that woman was really sweet!”

What Happened to Leonarda Cianciulli


This method of disposing of her victim’s body earned her the title as the notorious “Soap-Maker of Coreggio”. An eye-witness to the final murder reported Leonarda and she was sentenced to 30 years in prison. She died in a women’s criminal asylum in Pozzuoli in 1970, at the end of her sentence, from a brain hemorrhage.

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Emma Boyce

Emma Boyce is a Coffee-chugging/chocolate-smuggling/poker-playing fandom mama with a big thing for Science-y things, space stuff, etymology, trivia an...Read Mored "good" people. She is a single mum to a pigeon-pair of pre-school toddlers, and undertakes a Double Degree in Education and Science whilst writing for Stay At Home Mum. Read Less

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