Enriqueta Martí, better known as The Vampire of Barcelona, in 1912
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.
That kid is the only survivor, Tereseta Guitart with her parents, brother and the police who rescued her.