Killer butchered 42 girls because drinking their saliva gave him superpowers

Indonesia's most prolific serial killer was put to death 14 years ago today (June 10, 2008) after admitting to murdering 42 girls and women between 1986 and 1997.

Ahmad Suradji was 59 when he faced a firing squad in North Sumatra, having been found guilty of 363 pages worth of criminal charges.

The cattle-breeder turned local shaman and sorcerer targeted girls as young as 11 and buried them in a sugarcane plantation near his home.

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Speaking after his arrest, Suradji claimed that the killings started after his father's ghost came to him in a dream to say he needed to drink the saliva of 70 women to become a mystic healer.

He said: "My father did not specifically advise me to kill people. So I was thinking, it would take ages if I have to wait to get seventy women.

"I was trying to get to it as fast as possible, I took my own initiative to kill.

"That was why from 1986 until now, I have killed 42 women."

Women would often come to Suradji seeking spiritual guidance or hoping he could cast spells to improve their lives.

He would lead them out to the sugarcane field under the pretence of ritual or spell, get them to help him dig a hole and – claiming it was part of the procedure – bury them up to the waist.

When they were immobilised he would then strangle them and drink their saliva, stripping the clothes from their corpses and positioning their heads towards his house – which he believed gave him extra powers.

The sick spree finally came to an end in April 1997 when 21-year-old Sri Kemala Dewi was found dead in the sugarcane field.

A 15-year-old rickshaw puller told police he'd dropped Dewi off at Suradji's house three days prior.

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Although he initially denied the murder, police found Dewi's handbag, dress and bracelet in his home. He would later confess to all the killings, sparking a gruesome excavation of the field which turned up a total of 42 decomposed bodies.

One of Suradji's three wives, Tumini, was tried as an accomplice in the 1998 trial.

She was also sentenced to death but later saw her sentence reduced to life in prison.

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