One of the World's Most Prolific Serial Killers Was ... A Yugoslavian Grannie
Ana Draxin, more commonly known as Baba Anujka, was a perfect Victorian-era villain: An old woman perennially dressed in black who sold "love potions" to women in troubled marriages to give to their husbands who may or may not have realized it was just poison. That makes it even weirder that she went unnoticed for so long. She even had the perfect origin story: She claimed to have been seduced at age 20 by a dashing Austrian officer who left her with nothing but syphilis, after which she dedicated her life to the study of chemistry and revenge. Draxin was distracted by an arranged marriage for a while, but after her husband of 20 years died, she set herself up a little evil laboratory in her home and went to work.
Her primary business was the word of mouth of women who were sent to Baba after complaining about their abusive, neglectful, or otherwise shitty husbands. The old woman asked them, "How big is the problem?" which was code for "How much does your husband weigh?" and calculated a dose of arsenic that would kill him after eight days, after which, she told the women, "You will no longer have a problem." She also sometimes provided young men with just enough poison to keep them just sick enough to be excused from fighting wars and sometimes killed randomly for fun, like when a pair of newlywed teenagers made the mistake of *check notes* uh, happily walking past her house. Still, it was mostly the shitty husbands. She managed to kill between 50 and 150 people before she was caught since her victims' spouses always refused autopsies, and it just wasn't all that uncommon for a middle-aged man to drop dead for no apparent reason back then.
Her fatal mistake was expanding her business. She hired an assistant who messed up the dosage for one dude who managed to get himself to a doctor before he died, and the assistant immediately copped to it. Around the same time, a woman confessed to poisoning her husband with Baba's help, who Baba openly and iconically accused of being a "lying, evil snake bitch" in court.
Combined with claims that Baba simply pretended not to hear questions she didn't want to answer, it's a real shame that her trial took place before the advent of television. Prosecutors sought the death penalty, but Baba was sentenced to only 15 years in prison. She had miraculously managed to live to 90 years old by that time in 1929, so it was basically a life sentence, though she only served eight years before she was released on the grounds of being 98 goddamn years old and died two years later. Moral of the story: Trust no one but yourself, especially if you're a serial killer.
Manna, regrettably, has a Twitter.
Top image: Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons, Kronen Zeitung (public domain)