History is full of odd crimes and remarkable criminals, ranging from the grotesque to the audacious, and from criminal masterminds crazy as a fox, to ones who were just plain crazy. And while most crimes tend to be ho-hum affairs, some crimes and criminals cannot help but grab people’s attention because of some aspect that makes them fascinating. Either because of the consummate skill and daring involved, or more often, because they were so nutty that they can not help attracting attention, just like a train wreck.
The motive for most crimes tends to be pretty straightforward. A murder is usually explained by the murderer being mad at the victim over something, or wanting him or her out of they because they posed an obstacle. If somebody robs a bank, it’s because they want the money. If somebody steals an object other than cash, it’s either because they want to sell and monetize it into cash, or make use of it. But then you have those crimes that stand out as odd, either because the motives seem irrational, or because of the sheer audacity of the criminal, or because of some other aspect that ends up shrouding the crime and criminal in weirdness.
Following are ten of history’s oddest, most remarkable, or plain bizarre crimes and criminals.
Shit Eating Nun and Her Lover Go on a Murder Spree
Marianna de Leyva y Marino (1575 – 1650) was born to a wealthy banking family in Milan. Her mother died during Marianna’s infancy, so her father dumped her on an aunt to raise her, and forgot about her as he pursued his business affairs across Europe. At age 13, her father remembered her long enough to force her into a convent in Monza.
Marianna took well to the nunnery, took the name Sister Virginia, and became a role model for the younger novices. Things changed in her twenties, when she fell head over heels in love, or lust, with a young aristocratic womanizer named Gian Paolo Osio, and a years-long torrid affair ensued. Osio had a blacksmith make him copies of the convent’s keys and routinely snuck into Marianne’s room, with the complicity of other nuns and a friendly priest. She birthed two children, one a stillborn, the other a daughter who was adopted by Osio.
Marianna alternated between gratifying her lust, and guilt-tripping over her sins. At some point, hoping to turn her irresistible lust for Osio into disgust, she began eating his feces. It did not work. Then, in 1606, a nun threatened to expose the affair, so Osio murdered her, with the complicity of Marianna, who threatened the other nuns that they’d get the same if they blabbed.
The lovers tried covering their tracks by spreading a story that the murdered nun had run off, but rumors began spreading of iffy things going at the Monza convent. So Osio started murdering more people to quell the rumors, including the blacksmith who had made him copies of the convent’s keys, and an apothecary who had supplied Marianne with abortion herbs.
It didn’t work, and eventually, word reached the governor of Milan, who ordered an investigation. Osio, Marianne, and their complicit enablers were arrested in 1607, and tortured to reveal what they knew. Osio escaped, and was sentenced to death in absentia. He was killed soon thereafter by an acquaintance. Marianne was sentenced to life in solitary confinement, bricked up in a small cell measuring four feet by nine. She stayed there for fourteen years, until she was deemed reformed and released, to spend her remaining days in a convent.