Up Close & Peculiar With a Real Vampire!

Take a look inside the head of Peter Kürten, one of the most notorious serial killers in history.

3 min
Allyson Iovino
Allyson Iovino
Up Close & Peculiar With a Real Vampire!
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Up Close & Peculiar

More than 100 years ago, the globetrotting Robert Ripley began collecting artifacts from his journeys around the world, which today form the heart of the greatest collection of oddities ever assembled.  Up Close & Peculiar brings the curious history of these pieces to a personal level as our very own, Allyson Iovino, explores the strange relics that lie within our Warehouse walls! Become a part of the story as we share pieces for every history buff, pop culture junkie, and oddities collector alike.

Today: Peter Kürten's Mummified Head

Peter Kürten is one of the most notorious serial killers in history. Today, we're taking a look inside the head (literally!) of the Vampire of Düsseldorf.

Killer Beginnings

Peter Kürten was practically raised to be a serial killer. He grew up with an extremely violent father, and at the age of nine, he allegedly killed his first two victims, two of his friends, that he drowned in a river. Around this time, his violence also extended to animals, which is where he first realized that he had an affinity for blood.

By the time he was sixteen, he ran away from home and started serving time in jail on and off for lesser crimes. His time in jail, and specifically solitary confinement, solidified his sadistic tendencies and hatred of society. 

The Düsseldorf Vampire

After getting out of jail, he got married and lived a rather normal life for a few years. This normalcy was short-lived, however, as around the age of forty, he settled in Düsseldorf and started his biggest killing spree yet. Eventually, police realized that he was drinking the blood of his victims, thus nicknaming him, “the Vampire of Düsseldorf.” 

'Till Death Do Us Part

Throughout all his terrible crimes, Kürten still maintained an affinity for his wife. He realized that he would be caught soon for his crimes, and confessed all his crimes to her in hopes that if she turned him in, she would get enough reward money to be taken care of for the rest of her life.

In May of 1930, she turned Kürten over to the authorities, just as he had told her to. He was then arrested, convicted, and sentenced to nine life sentences. He was executed by guillotine in 1931. 

Final Words

Not even on his deathbed did his violent tendencies stop, as his last words were reportedly  “Tell me, after my head is chopped off, will I still be able to hear, at least for a moment, the sound of my own blood gushing from the stump of my neck? That would be the pleasure to end all pleasures.”

Inside a Criminal Mind

Why did scientists decide to dissect Kürten’s head? Well, similar to the anonymous Parisian criminal in our Criminal Minds video, scientists wanted to study Kürten to see if they could find anything physically out of the ordinary about the way his brain was structured, in comparison to someone who wasn’t a serial killer. Their studies came up empty. 

Meet Peter Kürten

If YOU want to get Up Close with Peter Kürten's potentially haunted head, pop over to Ripley's Believe It or Not! in Wisconsin-Dells to see the Vampire of Düsseldorf yourself!

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