Featured Image: Sam Briggs
Photographing the dead was a rather morbid Victorian era tradition that endured into the 20th Century. Today, there are subcultures and websites dedicated to these macabre post-mortem remembrances; just hit Google for some dreadful eye-candy sure to haunt you’re waking hours in addition to providing plenty of fuel for nightmares.
A particular post-mortem pic that often makes the rounds in these circles is of a Romania woman who died in 1909: Ioana Constantinescu, better known to connoisseurs of all things creepy and bizarre as Leona the Bloodthirster. The suspected witch was beaten to within an inch of her life by an angry mob before committing ritual suicide by consuming goblet after goblet of her own blood.
The fact that Leona was Romanian and had a hunger for hemoglobin lends itself to the vast vampire mythology of Eastern Europe; her story also contains shades of Elizabeth Báthory, the 17th Century countess with a proclivity for bathing in virgin blood. The slightest hint of a grin on Leona’s corpse, along with the fact that she hardly looks dead, suggests a wicked consciousness extending from life into the darkest further. They say a picture can speak a thousand words; the photo of Ioana Constantinescu speaks haunting volumes.
But was Leona the Bloodthirster real, or is this a case of a fanciful story attaching itself to an unknown photo? Skeptics point to the fact that verifiable confirmation of Ioana Constantinescu’s existence is difficult to come by. The biography normal cited can only be traced back to a poem on Poetry Critical, attributed to a writer known only as Unholy:
Ioana the Bloodthirster
died in the autumn of 1909
Cause of death: Ritual Suicide
by ‘purposeful ingesting of large quantities of her own blood’
Stated and concluded the official autopsy
and coroners reports
Timișoara, Romania Octombrie 23
She called it the ‘Communion of the Saints’
Twenty seven year old Ioana
was laid to rest in a private ceremony
attended only by Spenta Armaiti members
She was known to many throughout the township
of Timișoara, in western Romania
as a witch and an idolator
Many feared her
Many knew the stories of alleged hemo-ingestion
and unknown Strigoaică in the wood
She was conspired against
by two Christian ministers and their wives
To ‘drive out the devil from their midst’
and ‘cleanse the northern gods from among us’
Just before dawn, on Octombrie 21st
she was dragged from her home by an mob
and beaten near unto death
She spent the next two days drinking continually
from the Communion Glass
Both ministers and their wives were dead
before the end of the year
Skeptics are also quick to point out that, whoever the woman in the photo actual is, she doesn’t look like someone who recently received a serious beat-down. Still, the infamous picture of Leona the Bloodthirster, and her chilling missive, continues to captivate. The mental imagery conjured of a woman imbibing on glasses of her own blood seems tailor-made for Hollywood horror. At this point, it hardly matters if Ioana Constantinescu was an actual person or just another tasty bit of creepypasta; either way, she’s a staple of internet’s sinister side—a specter likely to haunt the web for generations to come.
Follow me on Twitter @josh_millican.