Photographing the dead was a rather morbid Victorian era tradition that endured into the 20th Century. 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.
|Loana the Bloodthirster after her death in 1909. Allegedly she died from drinking her own blood.|
According to The 13th Floor, the most detailed accounts available identify the woman as Loana (or Ioana) Constantinescu, a 27-year-old woman from the Romanian city of Timisoara. Loana is rumored to have been a devout practitioner of Zoroastrianism — one of the world’s oldest organized religions, originating in ancient Persia and still practiced by millions today, though mostly in East Asia. In Western Europe, however, Zoroastrianism is far less common.
Within Timisoara’s majority Christian population, Zoroastrians were often looked down upon as witches, and Loana was reportedly persecuted and ostracized by the people of Timisoara — particularly a pair of ministers who spread rumors that the young woman worshiped Satan and drank the blood of local children.
The panic continued to escalate until a mob of hysterical vigilantes descended on Loana’s home on October 21, 1909, dragging her into the street and beating her severely. She survived the vicious attack, but was hospitalized with severe blunt-force injuries and lacerations. For reasons unknown, the woman checked herself out of the hospital less than two days later, despite her extensive injuries, and returned to her home.
By the following morning, she was dead.
The real mystery begins with the widely-documented claim that Loana’s demise was not the direct result of the vigilantes’ attack, but from a bizarre ritual suicide, during which the woman reportedly made multiple cuts to her arms and legs, then drained a massive amount of blood into a sacramental goblet. While there is no official death certificate available, the medical examiner allegedly claimed the cause of death was a combination of extensive blood loss and internal shock from ingesting such a large quantity of blood, which likely triggered cardiac arrest.
When city authorities discovered the woman’s body, they also found an altar in her home adorned with strange occult symbols, effigies and ritual herbs.
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.
(via Bloodbath and Beyond)