Leonarda Cianciulli was the kind of mother who would stop at nothing to protect her children. She would even go as far as murder. Having lost thirteen of her children to miscarriages or early childhood death, she was desperate to keep the remaining four alive at any cost.
At the start of the Second World War in 1939, her eldest son decided to enlist in the Italian army. Giuseppe was her favorite and she could not bear the thought of losing him.
Leonarda was a superstitious woman, and she felt the portent of evil about her son’s desire to become a soldier. It was this event that ultimately led her to gain the infamous title of one of the worst female serial killers of the century.
Leonarda Cianciulli’s Tragic Life
Leonarda was born in Montella in 1984. It is a picturesque part of southern Italy, famous for its chestnuts. Despite beautiful surroundings, she had an unfortunate life from the start.
She believed that her mother cursed her when she married Raffaele Pansardi because she objected to the union. After ten years of marriage, Leonarda went to jail for fraud.
At the end of her sentence, the family moved to Lacedonia, close to her childhood village. When the most devastating earthquake in living memory unleashed its force on the area, the Cianciulli family was among the thousands who lost their homes.
Fearing the curse of her mother, Leonarda decided to consult a fortune-teller to ascertain whether her future held anything good. The Romani woman did not have good news for her.
“In your right hand I see the prison,” the fortune-teller informed her. “In your left, a criminal asylum.”
Did Depression Cause Her Insanity?
Modern medicine recognizes that miscarriages can have a devastating effect on a woman’s mental state. Now, imagine losing ten babies?
The grief must have been overwhelming for Leonarda. The depression would have been compounded by the other babies she lost.
It is feasible that Leonarda Cianciulli suffered from clinical depression. Using modern medicine, she would have been offered therapy and taken her pick of anti-depressants.
However, she lived a time long before such relief could be found, so she was left to lose her mind completely, with horrific repercussions.