This Little Old Lady Was One of History’s Most Notorious Serial Killers

Ana di Pištonja, also known as Baba Anujka or the Banat Witch, was an accomplished amateur chemist who used her skills to kill as many as 150 people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Baba Anujka’s origins are shrouded in mystery. Some sources claim that she was born in 1838, in the Banat region of modern-day Romania, but her life was tied to the Yugoslavian village of Vladimirovac, in the Voievodina Province of present-day Serbia. As the daughter of a rich cattleman, she is said to have had a comfortable childhood and good education, but became a misanthropist in her early 20s, after being seduced by an Austrian officer who eventually left her with a broken heart and a syphilis infection. She found refuge in the field of chemistry and became known as a local healer and witch who could make anyone “disappear’ for the right price…

After isolating herself from the world for a few years, Ana di Pištonja allegedly married a landowner with whom she had five children. Unfortunately, only one of them reached adulthood. Her husband, who was reportedly much older than her, died 20 years into their marriage, and it was after his death that she became the Banat Witch.

Following her husband’s death, Anujka turned one wing of their home in Vladimirovac into a chemistry laboratory where she started experimenting with various mixes. She soon became known as a healer and herbalist among the people of Banat, but she also dabbled in more controversial potions. She would help soldiers get out of military service by giving them poison to make them ill, and wives rid themselves of their husbands with so-called “magic water”.

According to a surprisingly detailed Wikipedia entry on the Yugoslavian amateur chemist, “when told about a marriage problem, Anujka would ask her client, ‘How heavy is that problem?’, which meant, ‘What is the body mass of the victim?’. She would then calculate the dose of arsenic necessary to make “the problem” pass away without anyone realizing that they had been poisoned.

Baba Anujka would give the “magic water” to her clients, who were mostly women, and instructed them to give it to their husbands, who would usually die after about eight days. The old woman is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of at least 50, and up to 150 people.

By the 1920s, the magic water business of the Banat Witch had become so lucrative that she was able to hire a “sales agent” whose sole job was to find potential clients and bring them to the chemist. Of course, few understood the scientific process behind her product, so most of her clients reportedly believed that she had some kind of supernatural power that helped her magically kill people.

All this notoriety made Baba Anujka a lot of money, but inevitably drew more attention to her deadly business. In 1924, one of her regular clients, Stana Momirov, used magic mater to kill her husband Lazar Ludoški, and when an uncle of her second husband died in similar circumstances, authorities started asking questions. In December of 1926, Ana di Pištonja sold magic water to Sima Momirov and his wife Sofija, who intended to kill Sima’s 70-year-old father, Nikola. They succeeded, but their deed became part of the “Momirov Trials”, in which Baba Anujka was accused of being an accomplice in the murders of Lazar Ludoški and Nikola Momirov.


Despite denying ever having sold magic water to Stan and Sima Momirov, the analysis of the victims’ bodies found traces of arsenic, and the testimonies of her clients “won” the popular herbalist a sentence of 15 years in prison. She was 90 years old when the sentence was passed, but she somehow made it eight more years behind bars, before being released because of her advanced age.

Baba Anujka spent the last two years of her life in her home in Vladimirovac. She died on September 1st, 1938. at the age of 100, but her reputation as one of the most prolific serial killers in human history became legend.

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