Ana di Pištonja, also known as Baba Anujka or even the Banat Witch, was an accomplished amateur chemist who used her skills to kill up to 150 people in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Her origins are shrouded in mystery.
Some claim that she was born in 1838, in the Banat region of modern-day Romania, but her life was somehow 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.
Thus she found refuge in the field of medicine and chemistry, she spoke five languages, and became known as a local healer, as well as a witch who could make anyone “disappear” for the right price…
Well, after isolating herself from the world for a few years, she allegedly married a landowner with whom she had five children. Or eleven, depending the source you read. Unfortunately, only one of them reached adulthood.
Her husband, who was much older than her, died 20 years after their marriage, and it was after his death that she became known 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. In fact, 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” or “love potions”.
Anujka’s potions contained arsenic in small quantities and certain plant toxins that were difficult to detect.
When told about a marriage problem, Anujka would ask her client, ‘How heavy is that problem?’, which literally meant, ‘What is the body mass of the victim?’.
She would then calculate the dose 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.
Either way, by the 1920s, the magic water business of the Banat Witch had become so lucrative that she was able to hire even a “sales agent”, a woman named Ljubina Milankov, 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.
It was December 1926, when she sold magic water to Sima Momirov and his wife Sofija, who intended to kill Sima’s 70-year-old father, Nikola. Their motive involved a family quarrel. According to their claim, Nikola was an alcoholic and abusive towards his children and grandchildren.
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 both Lazar Ludoški and Nikola Momirov.
Although 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 resulted 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 tender age of 100, but her reputation as one of the most prolific serial killers in human history became legend.
Images from web – Google Research