Thurzo tortured the Countess’s henchman. Other servants testified freely
While the Countess was locked in the castle dungeons as Csejthe, the notaries began to collect 300 witness testimonies against her. These were from servants at Sarvar and Csejthe, who came forward to testify- or who Jo et al. named under torture. During the initial stages of this torture, the Countess’s henchmen attempted to mitigate their involvement by laying the blame at the deceased Darvulia’s door- and at each other. But as the pain increased, they began to implicate the Countess. According to their accounts, Lady Bathoryonly occasionally killed when her husband was alive. But on Ferenc’s death, her murders became more numerous. They placed the numbers of deaths between 30-50.
The figure of 650 deaths, on which the Countess’s reputation as a mass murderer was based, came from a servant girl known simply as ‘Suzannah.’ It is unlikely Suzannah was literate. Somehow, however, she knew of a ledger kept by the official Jacob Szilvassey, which apparently recorded the names of every one of the Countess’s victims. In his testimony, although Szilvassey admitted he had seen the Countess torture some of her victims, he never mentioned any such ledger. Nor was one ever found and presented to the court as evidence.
One other senior official testified against the Countess. Benedek Deseo was the Countess’s court master and a man she held in the highest trust. Deseo was named during the torture and admitted to seeing his mistress at work. He described how the Countess ‘disciplined’ a young maid called Illonka for clumsiness. Lady Bathory stripped the girl and then began stabbing her in the fingers. The violence increased as the lady became more agitated, moving from fingers to arms, before the by now frenzied Countess whipped Illonka violently and burned her hands with a candle. The Countess did not cease until the girl was dead.