Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Dennis Rader, David Berkowitz, Richard Ramirez, Ed Kemper. What do all those people have in common, except for the fact that they are all serial killers?
Their crimes all took place in America. And yet, their names are known by the majority of true crime buffs across the world. Why?
Truth is, the U.S does not have a disproportionate number of serial killers. It is just much easier to find them in the U.S than it is in other countries.
Secondly, law enforcement has to put two and two together after discovering the murders, in order to link them not only to each other, but also to the killer. I will not comment on the efficiency of the U.S law enforcement, however, no one can deny how important criminal profiling is, neither deny how ground-breaking the Behavioral Science Unit was.
Thirdly, he U.S has much more open records than other countries do, therefore making it easier for people to find out about as well as access information about serial killer cases.
The media coverage of a crime is also to be taken into consideration.
All this could explain the reason why a lot of people are not informed as much about murder and serial killer cases around the rest of the world. Having grown up in Greece, even though true crime was not very prevalent as have previously mentioned in another article, I was lucky enough to be able to watch a show based on real homicides that have taken place all around Greece. I used to watch them religiously, and it might sound weird, but when I need a nostalgic, comfort watch, that is still what I will choose to put on.
Going back for holidays in Greece, I managed to get my hands on a couple of true crime books focusing on Greek homicides, and even though you can find some of that information online, it does not come close to reading it from the perspective of the journalists & detectives that have covered those homicides.
So everyone reading, buckle up and prepare to read about four serial killers that shook Greek society to its core.
Antonis Daglis – The Ripper of Athens
His story begins in 1974, in the city of Peiraeus in Athens, where he grew up and lived most of his life. While growing up, his family was experiencing a lot of financial issues, as well as domestic violence. His father used to violently beat his mother, as well as his brother. In 1986, Daglis becomes an orphan when his father passes away, leaving a lot of financial debts behind. He stops going to school and starts working in order to support his family.
When he turns 16 years old, he gets arrested, trialled and condemned for the seduction of an underage girl. Daglis spends 6 months in a juvenile detention centre, and even though the amount of time Daglis spent in the system might not seem long for many, it is enough to change the personality of a young person.
His mother was working in underground and notorious bars, where he one night witnesses her coming into sexual contact with a stranger for money. This event created in him an immense amount of hatred towards not only his mother, but the entirety of the female population, which took a hold on him and his actions for the remainder of his life.
In October 1992, in the mere age of 18, Daglis steals a car, and he drives towards the suburb of Kolonaki, specifically to a “corner” where sex workers were usually picking up customers during that time. He chooses a girl who was around 35 years old, they talk about her services and prices and drive towards the area of Karea, where, as he confessed later, strangles her. Just after committing the murder, Daglis drives back to his house, grabs a knife, a hacksaw and plastic bags and cuts the dead body in more than 30 pieces. He later on gets rid of the bags in different areas of Athens and throws the victims head in the river of Kifissos. Some parts of the girl were found by the police a few days later, but he was not arrested for years.
Daglis serves in the army for the mandatory period and does not deviate until the month of September 1995. During the autumn of 1995, there was a lot of fear in the sex workers “corners”, as 8 women had been attacked by an unknown young man driving a white van, who would pose as a customer but would later try to strangle and rob them. Specifically, during that time, as a sex worker reported in an interview quite a while later, after having sex with the man a couple of times, as he kept going back and everything seemed normal, he tried to take the money he had already given her, and when she refused, he pulled a knife threatening to kill her. The sex worker gave him all her money and ran out.
A 30-year-old British woman named Anne, who was working as a sex worker during that time, reported that the same man drove her to a quiet place, put a rope around her neck and made her perform oral sex on him while saying “All whores must die”. She told him that she was doing this kind of work out of need, in order to save up money so go back to her home country, and that’s when the man told her “Fine, you can go. But be careful.”
Multiple other attacks towards sex workers followed during that autumn, but none of them were murdered, until the 29th of October, when Eleni Panagiotopoulou’s body, was found chopped in pieces in the area of Tragana. The girl’s body parts were thrown around the area, but this time, the killer had removed the victim’s guts and had cut the nipples from her breasts. The cause of death was determined as strangulation once again, and the forensic pathologist working the case mentioned “extreme cannibalism” taking place.
On the 25th of December of the same year, in a one-way alley, the body of Athina Lazarou, also a sex worker, was found naked except for her bottom underwear that were still in place, with all her clothes being thrown around the place, as well as a bag with all her personal belongings. Cause of death, you guessed it, strangulation.
One has to keep in mind that being a sex worker in Greece was illegal back then, and most of the girls were extremely scared of facing hefty fines, deportation if they were refugees, or even jail, hence why they did not report any of the attacks to the police. These 2 last murders however, had sex workers around Athens panic in such degree that 2 of them decided to report the attacks that they survived, as well as gave a description of the man and the van he was driving.
The girls were shown photographs of people that had a record, and they managed to identify the man. It was Antonis Daglis, now a 22-year-old man, with blue eyes and blond hair.
The police immediately started following the suspect’s every move in undercover cars. On January 21st, 1996, he was seen talking with sex workers, and even though police officers would prefer to catch him in the act in order to have a foolproof case, they were worried they might lose his tracks. Hence why they arrested him 3 days later, on the 24th of January, while Daglis was in his van. It was in the same van where they also found an Orthodox cross necklace which belonged to Eleni Panagiotopoulou, leaving no room for doubts that they had finally captured the man who everyone referred to as “The Athens Ripper”.
Daglis confessed to every attack and murder he committed, putting a lot of the blame on his upbringing, his violent father and absent mother who was working as a sex worker. He mentioned that every time he was killing a sex worker, he felt like he was killing his own mother. Daglis also mentioned that he killed a couple of the sex workers due to the reason that they made comments about the small size of his penis.
His trial took place from the 15th until the 23rd of January in 1997, and he was facing charges for 3 homicides, 8 attempted homicides, 10 robberies, 2 attempted robberies, rape, illegal firearm possession, as well as offences towards the dead (I assume that refers to the mutilations).
During the day of his trial, Daglis self-harmed and needed 122 stitches on his left leg. His lawyers tried to play the card of the “psychopath”, but psychiatrists that examined him managed to throw that theory out.
Daglis tried to provide an apology in order to get a lighter sentence, but the court was not convinced, and the sentence he was handed was 13 times life imprisonment, and 25 years imprisonment on merger, the longest sentence recorded in Greece for the last few decades.
Daglis told the court that he was not “trialled fairly”. In the early morning of August 2nd, 1997, he was found hung in the cell numbered 33 of the psychiatric ward of the Koridallos prison.
Theofilos Sechidis – The butcher of Thasos / The Greek Hannibal
Sechidis’ case is one of the most talked about homicide cases in Greece, as well as one of the most shocking ones. Sechidis was a law student, and fun fact, would only drink milk. A calm and sober face, a lonely boy who was hiding the “smile of death”.
Even though I know a lot about his case, I was never able to find a lot about his childhood, something that may have shed some light in the motivations behind his actions. The only thing mentioned whenever the case is covered, is that in 1992, he underwent a computed tomography scan, and it was revealed that he had some brain anomalies.
His case starts in May 1996, and the police only started investigating it after a report relating to the missing victims. The person that reported all the victims missing, was the wife of his uncle Vasilis, who lived in Belgium and was visiting Greece. After his uncle’s disappearance, Sechidis pretended to be looking for him, as well as the rest members of his family, and had even gone to the police asking for help.
This action was the perfect alibi in Sechidis’ mind, but in his aunt’s eyes, it was another strange behaviour among others that defined him. His out of the ordinary behaviours in the past had previously made his family discuss about finding someone to provide Theofilos with some much-needed medical help.
But let’s talk about when and how the murders took place.
The first murder took place on the 19th of May. Sechidis and his uncle had gone for a walk to the ancient acropolis of Thasos to talk, when according to Sechidis, they started arguing and his uncle tried to attack him with a knife. This is the reason (according to him) as to why he pushed him from a cliff of 10 metres. When Sechidis went close, his uncle was in great suffering, and decided to cut his throat and hide him in the bushes.
Until the next day, the other 4 murders were committed.
Sechidis first purchased a shot gun, returned home and waited for his father who arrived around 19:30. His father’s death came from a single bullet, as well as an incredibly deep knife slash on his neck. Sechidis reported that his father attacked him with a knife, and in self-defence shot him from a metre away. He took his body, dragged it across the floor and left it in the toilet. He also mentioned that his father’s head had “erupted” from the eyes up, making his skull bones detach.
After 15 minutes, his mother and sister returned home as well. Again, according to his words, they asked him where his father was, and his mother took a knife out. The two women, as well as his grandmother, suffered the same fate as his father. The crime was not revealed until over two months later.
Sechidis did not simply kill his family. He chopped them up in pieces, took the brains out of his father’s, sister’s and grandmother’s lifeless bodies, put them on a plate and in the freezer, in order to “study” them and later on eat them, in order to punish them, as well as satisfy his curiosity.
It is also said that Sechidis was listening to Tchaikovsky while committing the murders.
The next day, he put the dead bodies’ pieces in bags, and took them to Kavala with a boat, making a few round trips.
In his words, “I did whatever I did in self-defence and this is the reason why I do not regret it, and whatever I have said so far to you, is the truth”. He truly believed that his whole family was planning to kill him.
Sechidis was convicted with a 5 life sentences.
After being under the watchful guard of psychiatrists, it was concluded that he was suffering from schizotypal personality disorder, but without the need of treatment, therefore bearing full responsibility and awareness of his actions. Other psychiatrists believe that he suffered from schizophrenia, but the opinions differ.
On the 12th of February 2019, in the age of 46, Sechidis was found dead in the Koridallos psychiatric facility’s bath. It is believed that he had a heart attack, as he was struggling with heart issues the past few years.
Ekaterini Dimitrea was 42 years old and lived in the village of Neohori in Greece. Her husband had divorced her, she was suffering from hemiplegia, a condition caused by a brain damage or a spinal cord injury and can possibly lead to paralysis to one side of the body. She was raising her 10-year-old daughter by herself, and even though she was experiencing financial issues, her life was pretty calm. Until the month of May 1962.
On the 27th of May, Dimitrea committed her first crime, when she poisoned her mother’s pasta by adding parathion (a pesticide). Her 80-year-old mother had a spasm crisis, strong abdominal pains and passed away on the floor a few moments later after consuming the food. As her mother had previous heart issues, the death was written off as a heart attack and no suspicions were raised from anyone.
On the 19th of July, she poisoned her cousin by adding parathion in her coffee. The victim died in the same horrific way as Dimitrea’s mother, but this time, the death was attributed to a skull fracture she suffered when she fell on the floor.
The third victim of Dimitrea was her 45-year-old brother, who drank a poisoned coffee, but the amount of parathion this time was not enough to kill him. He was taken to the hospital, and the doctors diagnosed him with a biliary colic.
The killer realised that the amount of poison was not enough, so she made sure to add some extra the second time, resulting in her brother’s death, which was again written off as a heart attack.
The whole village started talking behind her back, but no one thought she was a killer. Everyone simply thought that the family was cursed.
On the 6th of September, she offered a Turkish delight snack to her 5-year-old nephew, and before he could even eat the whole thing, the child foamed at the mouth and died en route to the hospital. Since the child had no previous health issues, suspicions were finally raised, and doctors discovered the actual cause of death.
On the 10th of September, Dimitrea confessed to all her crimes, and she also mentioned that she had tried to murder 2 other members of her family, but thankfully they had not accepted the food and drinks she had offered them.
After her arrest. she mentioned that she was planning on poisoning the whole village, in order to make everyone believe she was mentally ill. After neurological and psychological exams, doctors reported that she had full consciousness of her actions.
On the 10th of April 1964, Dimitrea was executed. She remained in history as the first female serial killer in Greece.
Vakrinos was a quite small man, working as a taxi driver, but would also steal cars and bikes in order to sell them for profit.
Unfortunately, even though Vakrinos’ crimes are not recorded with a chronological accuracy, it seems like the first murder that was recorded by the police took place on the 21st of December in 1995, when he killed two brothers, Kostas and Antonis Spiropoulos, due to the reason that when he sold them a car, they paid him less than what they had agreed upon.
Vakrinos, when seeing the money, decided to take the car back with a spare key he had kept. The brothers heard him starting the car, ran out and and drove after him, until Vakrinos’ car ran out of gas and had to stop at a gas station. The brothers tried to confront him and take the car back from him, but what they did not know is that Vakrinos was carrying guns with him.
He emptied all bullets from the first gun on the brothers, went in the car, grabbed a second gun, continued shooting until both brothers were dead, and then simply drove away.
In Greece, it was not unusual for parents to propose a wedding between their children and another family’s children. Not exactly an arranged marriage or a forced one (usually), but a first contact that could end up in something more. Something more of a matchmaking.
Vakrinos stated that a man, Serafim Agiannidis had messed up a possible matchmaking for him, and seeing as he was in love with the girl, he needed to kill him.
He went all the way to Serafim’s house, wearing a hood and pressed his finger on the doorbell, but Agiannidis was not home. When his mother saw the hooded man through the peephole, she called the police, but Vakrinos stayed outside waiting for his next victim.
Unfortunately, when Agiannidis arrived, Vakrinos shot him. The father of the victim and a police officer were injured from the bullets as well, making the rest of the police start looking for him actively.
The police could not track him down, until a woman reported a vehicular theft, where the perpetrator drove away in a taxi. This information, along with the description of the suspect, as well as the name from his first murder that was in the police’s registry (due to the spare key having a name tag on it), helped arrest him.
You might be wondering why they did not look into his name earlier if the name was present on the key, and the answer is, I truly don’t know. I assume that the police might have thought that the car had been sold to multiple owners and it was not worth looking into it.
After his arrest. Vakrinos confessed to the murders that were mentioned above, but to a few others too. Apparently, according to his confession, his first ever victim was one of his roommates, Panagiotis Daglias. He killed Daglias because he had “stolen a hunting gun from him”. The next victim was a woman, Anastasia Simitzi. Vakrinos ended her life because she called him “short”. Another victim was a co-worker of his, a taxi driver named Theodoros Andreadis, who did not let him take a passenger in his cab.
According to his words, Vakrinos felt wronged from everyone, and killing made him feel “bigger”.
On the 25th of May the following year, he was found hung in his cell.
If you made it this far, you see how different the motivations behind each killing are. The fact that such crimes have been committed in Greece but almost no one knows about them, is both sad and fascinating as to the reason why. Even though the serial killers and their cases discussed in this article don’t have a lot in common with most well-known ones, I still find them fascinating.