Talk:Vera Renczi

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Fiction[edit]

Vera Renczi is one of those unusual murder cases in which every account has the same basic "facts" beginning with the Encyclopaedia of Murder by Wilson and Pitman in 1961. Vera Renczi almost certainly never existed. Try googling her - not one picture exists of her or any of her 35 "victims". Great story but not a word of truth in any of it.

  • Wikipedia works through references and sources - not personal opinions. All of the information is sourced with reliable references. You obviously missed this photograph and article of her in Google search here. I can find no doubts with historians that she existed. If you can find reliable sources to suggest that she never existed please add them. In the meantime, I reverted your edit. ExRat (talk) 02:42, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

The article that you include adds no more than any of the so-called "reliable references". Since it was written in 2008 I would suggest that it is based on the previous accounts. They all say the same thing. The caption says: "To get rid of the 36 corpses, Vera Renczi used the basement of his house". What house? Where is it? What date was she arrested? What was the date of her trial? Please find me a year if you can. You won't be able to because the case is a fiction. The Romanian article contains nothing that is not in any of the other references. The article is actually sourced with the same information. I am really looking forward to you (or anyone else) finding me a date (not even the exact date, a year will do) when Vera Renczi was arrested/tried/died. Is the picture in the article you list one of Vera Renzci or is this her? http://peoples-history.com/state/criminal/killer/vera_renczi/ They look nothing alike. I would humbly suggest that neither are. Isn't it strange that we have complete case histories for so many serial killers from all over the world from all periods of history yet only the same basic facts on Renczi? --Shylocksboy (talk) 03:32, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

In 1961, the esteemed true crime writer Colin Wilson includes the case in his Encyclopaedia of Murder and adds a footnote "It is to be regretted that the editors have been unable to obtain any dates relating to this case...The present account has been condensed from Bernard O'Donnell's book The World's Worst Women." Mr O'Donnell's book was published in 1953 - http://www.amazon.co.uk/worlds-worst-women-twentieth-century/dp/B0000CIOL7/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1315280573&sr=8-10. I believe that he included no dates because he made up the story of Vera Renczi. --Shylocksboy (talk) 03:44, 6 September 2011 (UTC)

  • I'm not sure you are aware of how Wikipedia works. I am not trying to be condescending. I am simply stating that the burden of proof lies with reliable sources. Every source I have used for this article is a reliable source. I have looked (since you questioned her existence) and I have not found any compelling evidence by any historian who has ever suggested or claimed she did not exist. If there were any doubts, I am sure I would have found them and I would have placed them into the article and cited the sources. Please read Wikipedia:Neutral point of view. All articles should be based on reliable sources. You simply can't insert your own POV into an article based on Original research. There is no reliable sourced evidence that I can find that Renczi didn't exist. Yes, I did create the article. No, I can't give you a year, because I couldn't find a reliable source for one. The best reliable source I could find was her birth year; any other date would merely be a guess, so I could not include it. If that somehow makes you dubious about her existence, I can't do anything about that, as I have no source telling me she never existed. The burden of proof doesn't lie with me, it lies with sourcing. As per the picture of Renczi, it was included in the article I linked to you here. That is a photograph of Renczi and her wine cellar, provided by a Romanian article about her. The photograph you linked me to here is a photograph of Belle Gunness. While it may be strange to you that particular years aren't known, I can't be called upon to prove her existence, when all reliable sources tell me she did exist. What you believe about author Colin Wilson is Original Research and can't be used on Wikipedia. I can believe (or make a case for) a many number of things - however, my opinion doesn't count for anything on Wikipedia. ExRat (talk) 06:39, 6 September 2011 (UTC)


Folks, I too believed (and still believe) this is fiction, and here's why:

  • The mysterious town of Berkerekul (or any similar name) doesn't exist except in connection with this story. There's no such place on Google maps, no reference on the web, nothing. Even the most obscure village in Europe would be mentioned somewhere. That alone should make one very skeptical.
  • The so-called facts are vague, unverifiable and tend to change from source to source. We're talking about somebody who supposedly committed those murders 80-90 years ago, not in the middle ages. While record keeping would understandably have been poorer prior to WWII, her crime file seems suspiciously thin. No birth/death date & place, no police (or other official) records with regards to her case, trial, imprisonment. Are we to believe and accept explanation such as: "It is to be regretted that the editors have been unable to obtain any dates relating to this case"? Albert Fish (b. 1870) and John Haigh (b. 1909) would have been her contemporaries, yet there are records (including photographic evidence) to confirm their existence and deeds. H.H. Holmes (b. 1861) was a serial killer almost half a century before Vera supposedly saw the light of day, and again, one wouldn't have too much trouble finding concrete evidence about him. Even about Thug Behram (b. ca. 1765) there is more information.
  • Such an extraordinary and horrific story - if real - would have captivated and frightened locals for generations, yet hers seems to have vanished altogether from collective memory. Maybe it's because she never existed in the first place? Take the case of Terente (1895-1927) and Ramaru (1946-1971), both Romanian serial killers (though the former was rather a bandit). Although their body count don't even begin to match Vera's, they are still remembered by a certain segment of the public in Romania. Yet there doesn't seem to be anybody either in Romania or Serbia who vaguely remembers "that horrific story told by their uncle around the campfire". No community in the area where she supposedly lived remembers her or has come forward to claim her morbid fame. Yes, 80 years is a long time, but not THAT long!

When all is said and done, there is a little glimpse of something I stumbled upon when I first heard about this case: http://resources3.kb.nl/010730000/pdf/DDD_010734373.pdf There's a little story there dated 26th of May 1925, from what seems to be a very old newspaper, who has some common elements (hard to tell, as I don't speak Dutch). Is that a real newspaper from that time though? Could the story be true, or simply repeating a piece of fiction or hoax perpetrated elsewhere? Perhaps somebody fluent in Dutch, or better still, knowledgeable in the history of Dutch mass media could step in and clarify. 86.41.92.187 (talk) 23:43, 9 June 2013 (UTC)

The May 26 date of that Dutch newspaper means it's not the first report on the case. There was a story in the US on May 19. That Dutch newspaper has about the same info as the May 25 reports in the US (“The victims were all between the ages of 23 and 30, except the boy. Fourteen of them were Roumanians.”), even the same alleged quote from her. So nothing not already accessible in English. 86.121.18.17 (talk) 01:51, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Dates[edit]

Beyond any doubt, the story has two severe deficiencies -- times in which the crimes were committed and of any legal process, and names of even one victim. Romania underwent wild changes of political system from her early adulthood until about 1955 from democracy to a fascist takeover, Nazi hegemony, a transitional era to Commie rule, and Commie rule itself. There was World War II and there was the 1946 overthrow of a shaky democracy by the Communists. Romania was a death penalty country, and it is hard to see why Romanian Commies would have allowed her survival; as a profiteering murderer she would surely have been an example of the depravity of the old era and someone to be disposed of promptly.

Men of different economic status? When? During World War II? It is easy to imagine a thoroughly-ruthless person exploiting Jewish men who had something to fear by getting them to secrete large sums of money with her with the promise of going off with them to a safe location (let us say Turkey or Sweden) and then killing them... and keeping the money. After World War II she could have enticed men with money to leave money with her so that she could take off with them for safe places like Turkey or Sweden, and then killed them and kept the money.

Do you see what I am doing here? I am adding material to the story while remaining vague about the dates of her deeds. Years would be adequate. But I have added nothing specific or credible except general knowledge that anyone could have about Romanian politics between about 1930 and 1955 without having any connection to Romania.

If she was sentenced to life imprisonment or death, then wouldn't there be some judicial record? Wouldn't there be a record of her death in custody? One can't simply say that Romanian courts were unreliable or that judicial findings were travesties. Pbrower2a (talk) 16:34, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

My points exactly. She didn't exist. I asked the author of one of the "reliable" sources if he had done any original research or just copied someone else. He had merely copied someone else's work which is what they have all done. If someone had been at large killing as many victims as she is supposed to have done, there would be a record - arrest, trial, conviction, death in prison... something. One date at least - even a year if not the exact day/month/year. She is a figment of Bernard O'Donnell's imagination. --Shylocksboy (talk) 23:10, 19 September 2011 (UTC)

Vera Renczi story is most probably US 1920s yellow press fiction[edit]

I understand that the following is original research so I put it here:

First of all the closest thing I found to a primary source for the story are supposed two magazine articles cited here: http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2011/07/vera-renczi-used-men-as-disposible-sex.html

The older one is supposed to be from "The Bee" magazine (Danville, Va.), May 22, 1925, the later, more elaborate one is from "San Antonio Light" Sunday magazine section, Aug. 22, 1925. The latter magazine was purchased by William Randolph Hearst, the yellow press magnate in 1924. (as can be seen here: http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ees05 ), so the news credibility might be considered dubious.

The killings supposedly took place in a town called Berkereckul, Jugo-slavia, but strictly speaking there is no such place. However there is a town in what was in 1925. officially Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, (after 1929. Kingdom of Yugoslavia) called Bečkerek (Бечкерек) or Veliki Bečkerek (Велики Бечкерек), today called Zrenjanin, situated in Republic of Serbia whom Romanians call Becicherecul Mare (often probably just Becicherecul - veliki(sr)=mare(rom)=big, large or great(eng)) - a comment on this page (in Romanian, but readable with Google Translate) elaborates on that. http://www.ziare.com/international/stiri-internationale/dosarele-istoriei-cel-mai-mare-criminal-in-serie-este-o-romanca-1042227 however, other, less detailed sources, that I generally dismiss, put the location for the murders in Bucharest http://www.crimezzz.net/serialkillers/R/RENCZI_vera.php

  • Regarding: "strictly speaking there is no such place." I am open to the skeptical approach in this matter. Let me offer this bit on researching method. I have done many thousands of searches in digitized old newspapers and have researched many eastern European cases. Spellings of names and places are very irregular because they are Anglicized in different spellings, plus there is the problem of transliteration of characters. "Vera Renczi" is sometimes "Madame Renici, or "Madam Reniel." The place-name spelling should not be taken as evidence of a non-existent place.

I am from Serbia so once I came across this story I took interest to check it and the truth is - no one from here I asked, including a Faculty of Law professor and a Crime Academy assistant from Zrenjanin ever heard of the story before. There is also an online archive of the country's leading daily newspaper Politika dating from 1904. I checked the numbers dated 18-22. May 1925. and there is no word about Vera Renczi - here's a link to 1st Jan 1925. number - use the middle of the five buttons to chose a different day in the same year: http://scc.digital.nb.rs/document/P-2484-1925 . There are extensive descriptions of much less important criminal trials then would be a case for a woman that poisoned 35 people, so if her story were true it would have certainly been covered. I failed to find a single source in Serbian about her even though she was a Hungarian-Romanian who killed in Yugoslavia which would be hard to explain - if she had indeed existed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.208.200.246 (talk) 14:46, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

  • This research on Serbian sources must be taken seriously as throwing doubt upon the English language reports, but it does not definitively resolve the mystery. The bizarre fact is that May 19 account is signed by a respected correspondent (Otto B. Tolischus) and the American Weekly (San Antonio Light) article claims the case is being much discussed in Paris. Has anybody checked French newspapers (I don't have access to any)? I treat the case as authentic, but I agree that we must be skeptical until better sources come to light. We cannot blame American Weekly per se (publishing its article in August) even if there was a hoax, since on May 19, European correspondents were reporting the case to their agencies.

Excellent work Mr Serb. Exactly what I have been saying all along - she never existed. --Shylock's Boy (talk) 15:09, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

  • The article stands as it is. It is sourced, not from blogs. But from books and other notable sites. I reverted your edit. While it seems to be your mission to prove she didn't exist, for all intents and purposes, she did exist, and no amount of WP:OR and speculations will change that. You have even bolstered proof of Renczi's existence by finding two contemporary news articles about her. That is hardly any "proof" of her not existing; a write up about Renczi from the San Antonio Light, a mainstream American newspaper, is not a "dubious source". A notable internet crime site gives further details about Renczi here. Her maiden name may not have been Renczi, it may have been Romanca. Her first husband was an Austrian banker named Karl Schick. Her second husband is listed as Joseph Renczi, and her last murder victim is listed as a Serbian banker named Milorad. She is said to have died just prior to the outbreak of WWII. Items which I will add to the article (with sourcing) when I have more time. ExRat (talk) 04:15, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
    • I've read that account before, and, if you take that website for a serious source Ex Rat, you need to take a walk - just notice the word "PARANORMAL" in the categories... Besides "Romanca" means "Romanian woman". And that account differs from the "San Antonio Light" accounts in the name of her last victim. Romanian website says Serbian banker named Milorad (no surname given), The "Light" says Leo Pachich. PS me and Shylocksboy are two different persons. As for "Light" as a serious source: "In 1924, however, William Randolph Hearst bought the Light and instituted Hearst policies" http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/ees05 you can easily check what those policies generally were. "Moving to New York City, he acquired The New York Journal and engaged in a bitter circulation war with Joseph Pulitzer's New York World which led to the creation of yellow journalism — sensationalized stories of dubious veracity."— Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.208.200.246 (talk) 09:20, 15 January 2012 (UTC)
      • "you need to take a walk" -- Do not insult me. Perhaps you should read WP:CIV. ExRat (talk) 00:31, 20 January 2012 (UTC)

ExRat, as I have already written I contacted one of the authors of the books you cite and he said that he had done no original research and just copied his account from previous sources. She didn't exist. IF the Hearst magazine is correct with its dating (May 1925) why is there no reference to her in local papers of that time? Simple, because it's fiction, made up, imaginary, no basis in fact. Give it up and use your undoubted talents on someone who was real. --Shylock's Boy (talk) 16:41, 15 January 2012 (UTC)

  • I've finished with this back and forth. I will not persist in an argument with you. There is absolutely NO substantial literature, sourcing, website, author, person, magazine, historian, etc., who has written ANYTHING that claims she did not exist. If they had, I would have included it. Please read WP:OR again, carefully. If you continue with this, I will bring in a third party editor. I have already explained this to you numerous times now. ExRat (talk) 00:29, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
    • You still seem to be labouring under the impression that you are talking to one person. You aren't. So far there are at least three of us who think you are flogging a dead horse. There is NO substantial literature, sourcing, website, author, person, magazine, historian who is able to prove that she did exist. Books by crime experts Colin Wilson (Enc of Murder), Joe Gaute and Robin Odell (Murderers' Who's Who), Wilf Gregg (Murderers' Row), Paul Donnelley (501 Most Notorious Crimes), and James Morton (A Calendar of Crime) to name but six do not feature her because she never existed. I have already posted (twice) that all the accounts you quote are from the same "source". Why are there no newspaper reports of her deeds? --Shylock's Boy (talk) 01:08, 20 January 2012 (UTC) PS And if you think the Serb is insulting you by saying you need to take a walk, you need to get out more. That is very mild compared to some of the language on here.

Ex, Rat - a very clear indication of the fact that all those sources originate from a single text is the fact that the more-convincing majority of them put the murder location in Berckerekul (or Berkerekul). If any of those authors had bothered to do even the most basic research to check the "facts" presented in the previous sources, they would have found that town with that name DOESN'T EXIST, and that the town implied was in all probability Zrenjanin whom Romanians call Becicherecul. Instead, the mistake appears everywhere - try to Google "Berckerekul" you will just get a bunch of texts about Vera Renczi.

All the sources are from English-speaking countries (books and websites) and Romania (sensationalist websites only in fact), NONE from the country in which the killings supposedly took place (Yugoslavia, or today, Serbia). Obviously none of the authors on the subject ever bothered to check the truthfulness of previous sources. In short - if the original source was fiction (and it most certainly is, otherwise at least SOMEONE here in Serbia would have heard of her and the tourist agencies from Zrenjanin would be advertising her non-existing chateau as a visitor attraction), all the others are as well.

Blog source[edit]

Taken this to WP:RSN. Dougweller (talk) 08:57, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

The blog was true in its citations. I found an on-line archive of US Newspapers:

"WOMAN HELD FOR KILLING 35 PERSONS Slew Lovers and Preserved Bodies In Cans In Her Cellar By O B Universal Service BERLIN May via and in fact the entire Balkans are excited over the preliminary ings of the greatest female bluebeard of modern times Madame a Roumanian aped 30 described as beautiful as a picture Is charged with killing her two husbands her son and thirty-two lovers The preliminary hearing which have begun at Servia reveals that the prosecution alleges she killed her 35 victims with arsenic and other poisons in their food The bodies it is stated she preserved by hermetically sealing them in zinc she stored in her cellar Each big can has the name and age of the victim and the length of time he was her lover The average period which each re- mained favorite of the beautiful manian was from six to seven months during which they lived in the est harmony and happiness until the loved one would suddenly disappear The victims were all between the ases of 23 and 30 except the boy j Fourteen of them Roumanians It is stated that the woman confesses to all 35 murders and in her replies to questions reveals an appalling cism Asked why she killed so many innocent persons she Out of jealousy for I know that tomorrow they would run after an- other woman So I said to myself they I had better sleep quietly in my cellar i without having to excite themselves She said she killed her son because he knew about the contents of the cellar and she was In constant danger of discovery" [TYPOS NOT IN ORIGINAL]

  • I should add that this article has a byline: by a famous journalist , O. [Otto] B. Tolischus, a fact which leans in the direction of seeing the Renczi case as authentic. [O. [Otto] B. Tolischus, “Woman Held For Killing 35 Persons - Slew Lovers and Preserved Bodies In Cans In Her Cellar,” syndicated (Universal Service), The Bee (Danville, Va.), May 22, 1925, p. 6]. There is a Wikipedia page on Tolischus.

http://newspaperarchive.com/the-bee/1925-05-22/page-6/?tag=

But the news are bogus I repeat. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.208.201.58 (talk) 12:34, 22 February 2012 (UTC)

That May 22 wire wasn't the first story though. There is an earlier one dated May 19 in the Indiana Evening Gazette / Page-1 without a byline. The full text from that blog [1] (which they have it from The Kingston Daily Freeman, but was apparently syndicated) can verified at http://newspaperarchive.com/indiana-evening-gazette/1925-05-19. "A MODERN BORGIA FOUND. Remorseless Woman Calmly Admits Slaying Two Husbands, Her Son and 32 Suitors, All with Arsenic" etc. She is identified as "Madame Renici at Berkerkul, Serbia." No dates or anything more verifiable in that article and does not say where she was from. (I came here via ANI. I'm unrelated to the other IPs who posted above.) 86.121.18.17 (talk) 01:33, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
I think the English spelling "Berkerkul" comes from a mangled combination of the Hungarian spelling Bečkerek / Becskerek and adding the "ul" termination from the Romanian pronunciation. 86.121.18.17 (talk) 03:56, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

The final frontier in academia[edit]

The book The Female Serial Murderer: A Sociological Study of Homicide and the "Gentler Sex" by Scott, Hannah who was an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Science at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology when this was published. Great expectations of an actual criminology discussion. Instead, a bland and almost blind regurgitation entirely sourced from a newspaper article. And not even a newspaper of the time when this might have happened, but of Haines, M. (1991, July 15) "When Vera tired of her many lovers SHE KILLED THEM." The Daily Mercury, p. A4. ZOMG and LOLOLOL. Oh, there is a slither of critical thinking in that book. Scott says "sources cannot confirm when she was born or the actual dates these events took place". ORLY? 86.121.18.17 (talk) 02:46, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Oy, I missed that the publisher of that book was Edwin Mellen Press. But that's as good as it gets in terms of academic sourcing on this. 86.121.18.17 (talk) 03:45, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
I was under the impression that the Edwin Mellen Press was an academic vanity publisher. -- Hoary (talk) 13:11, 12 June 2013 (UTC)
That's what my "oy" was about... The publisher was involved in some controversies. 86.121.18.17 (talk) 16:52, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Renczi is also mentioned in The human predator: a historical chronicle of serial murder and forensic investigation by Katherine Ramsland. But Ramsland is so busy theorizing about and criticizing the motives of Renczi that she only presents the briefest sketch of the story. It starts with "among the most prolific killers over a fairly long period was Vera Renczi in Hungary". You can probably tell how much effort goes into ascertaining the facts from that alone. Anyway, we are told that men kept disappearing and that at one point another woman last saw her hubbie with Vera and "The frantic woman informed the police, who searched Renczi's lavish estate" and found the famous zinc coffins. The important bits (to Ramsland) are: "Her lame explanation was that after getting involved with a man, she would suddenly grow jealous and afraid of rejection, so she would kill him and preserve the remains. More likely, this was her means of keeping control. Her son, she explained, had thratened to expose her, so she added him to her gruesome collection. When asked why she kept a chair near the coffins, the so-called Vampire of Berkerkul said that she enjoyed sitting among her men and gloating." etc. The Collection? Check. Vampires? Check. Gets into the mind of the killer? YESSS. Of course no dates are given, but this seems to place the story in Austro-Hungarian times, although that might just be Ramsland glossing over some details she didn't think important. (Maybe Yugoslavia and Vampires don't go well together?) 86.121.18.17 (talk) 05:56, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Another author who covered her is Michael Newton in a couple of Infobase Publishing encyclopedias. Is it just me who finds troubling that the "true crime" authors who covered her have a substantial body of work in fiction (and aren't really known as historians)? 86.121.18.17 (talk) 16:34, 12 June 2013 (UTC) Michael Newton freely admits that he did not original research and copied the story from other earlier sources.14:50, 29 January 2014 (UTC)~~

Michael Kelleher, the author of Murder Most Rare, is the main expert interviewed by Deadly Women for facts about Renczi. In the documentary, where he is introduced as "author and former profiler", he says that he decided to write the book to prove that female serial killers are not rare, and that contrary to popular belief in the US (where he says it was thought there was at most one SK) he "stopped at 100." He also said that Renczi was the "most unique" case he came across and "one heck of an efficient serial killer". Make of that what you will. 86.121.18.17 (talk) 16:54, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

[E]pic(s)[edit]

If there's no picture, a good tabloid conjures one. And the unlucky model finds out they are serial killer! [2] 86.121.18.17 (talk) 04:20, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

Oh, and the picture in cancan.ro of her "wine cellar" [3] (which ExRat extols above) is just as "real". If British tabloids make shit up, what do you think Romanian ones do? According to the latter there was even a 1941 movie about Vera starring Cary Grant. They don't say who played Vera, but you can have your suspicion. 86.121.18.17 (talk) 04:20, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

  • I think "extol" is hardly the correct word to use. I was not "extolling" anything. While I may have been wrong in my belief that the photograph of the wine cellar actually belonged to Renczi (still unproven), I certainly wasn't purposely trying to fool anyone, or praise the site I found the image on. My entire point to this back and forth had to do with vandalism, constant insertions of personal opinions from other editors, and unreliable sourcing into the article. I have no stake in whether Renczi actually existed. If you read again what I have written on this talk page, I only castigated users for placing their personal views into the articles without any proper sourcing and then telling me that Renczi did not exist, when I could find no sources claiming she did not (and I did most certainly look). I can assure you (as I had with editors above), if I had found any reliable sources that stated this was a hoax or the she did not exist, I certainly would have included this information. But, I simply just couldn't permit people to willy-nilly add their opinions into the body of the article. ExRat (talk) 01:18, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

And how pray tell would you prove a negative? Where is the "proof" that Father Christmas doesn't exist?--143.252.80.100 (talk) 16:08, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

    • As I suspected, ro:Cancan (ziar) turns out to be a tabloid, referring to content/quality. And not a very successful one either. It was ranked 4th in its niche. They are now online only, having dropped the print version. So any wonderful and exclusive discoveries made there (like those pictures) are almost certainly bogus. 86.121.18.17 (talk) 01:42, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

According to the French Wikipedia (which doesn't back the claim with a source), her story inspired Arsenic and Old Lace (film). 86.121.18.17 (talk) 04:36, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

H2g2[edit]

The H2g2 story is, its web page tells us, by "Farlander", and last edited by "echomikeromeo". Here's Farlander. He doesn't claim any expertise in Romanian, Hungarian, or psychopathology. Here's echomikeromeo. Ditto.

H2g2 appears to be no more than a content farm. The only thing unusual and mildly interesting about it is that it temporarily interested the BBC.

I say: Replace the references to h2g2.com with "Citation needed" flags. -- Hoary (talk) 13:19, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

See also this at WP:RSN. I'm about to do what I suggest immediately above. -- Hoary (talk) 13:34, 13 June 2013 (UTC)

OR and RS[edit]

I was asked to take a look at this. Not sure why, as it's a bit out of my usual realm. My comments are mainly offered in the context of enhancing readability and writing quality along with informational value. Although it seems reasonable to think that Vera Renczi is an example of a notable hoax, it isn't so easy to find sources that assert flat-out it's a hoax. To complicate matters, Poynter.org (see our Poynter Institute article) says that when the U.K.'s unreliable Daily Mirror included Vera Renczi in a supplement called "Women Who Kill", it misidentified her with a photo of another woman. This item appears on a Poynter list of "best and worst" journalistic errors of 2012 because of the photo mixup (the Mirror apologized)—but not because Vera Renczi herself is a hoax.

The problem with most of the discussion above is that it's OR, cloaked in the guise of determining what constitutes RS. If you're trying to prove you're right on the basis of whether or not you think this woman is fictional, you're engaging in OR. You're supposed to be weighing the sources and presenting them neutrally, not arriving at a conclusion—that's the very definition of synth as a form of OR.

I don't see huge problems with the intro as currently phrased (though it's pretty repetitive in a "make a point" way). The first sentence doesn't need a footnote at all, if it accurately sums up the story as presented in the rest of the article. The RS tag is therefore ridiculous: if the sentence doesn't sum up the dominant version of the story, rewrite it so that it does. (You don't even need to clutter the first sentence with footnotes regarding the Romanian vs. Hungarian origin, if that point is adequately explored in the body as it should be: it's simply the case that she's represented as either Romanian or Hungarian in various versions.)

Keep in mind (as noted somewhere in a guideline), to state that "Pegasus is a winged horse" is not to assert that winged horses exist. The sources of dubious reliability indicate that the subject's notable, and that the story exists in many versions—but not that the incidents reported actually occurred. But if the question of dubious historicity is established in the intro, you don't need to keep attaching "some say" to every sentence unless you're presenting alternate versions ("some say …, while others place the incident at … ").

Just dropping by to offer suggestions, since I don't like to ignore a request. If it's all right, I'll tweak the intro a little. Nothing I'm wedded to, and I won't be watching the page. It's an interesting article that raises interesting sourcing questions. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:45, 12 June 2013 (UTC)

I object to your accusation that I'm conducting WP:OR here. Establishing the credibility of sources is part of the normal editorial process, according to WP:IRS. Otherwise the lead of Elizabeth Báthory should say she was a case of clinical vampirism because some FBI expert said so on TV, in the same documentary episode that's one of the sources here. "Verfiablity, not truth" is apparently not a Wikipedia policy anymore, according to an ongoing discussion on User talk:Jimbo Wales. Also, before I came to this article, the sources--low quality as they are--were also being misrepresented. Four of the five sources cited in the lead in this version actually say she was Hungarian but the lead concluded she was Romanian. Isn't that WP:OR? My immediate impression upon discovering that was that the wiki article was trying to support a tabloid story ignoring any contradictions between sources, which are certainly numerous. 86.121.18.17 (talk) 13:30, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
As I created the article, I strongly object to your conclusion that I had any motive in trying to "support a tabloid story" or ignoring sourcing contradictions. I have been a Wikipedia editor since 2005 and I can say that I have never once tried to support a story based on my own conclusions about the subject. While my sourcing of this article may have been rather shoddy (and I will admit to that), it was simply because the sources themselves were confusing and contradictory. It was very difficult to try to parse out what was factual and what was unreliable. It is often difficult for me to know which sources are definitively reliable, and which are not. But, I am slightly offended that you make the claim that I somehow purposely picked and chose sources to bolster my own view. That is not the case. As I have stated numerous times, when the issue of whether Renczi was actually fictitious or not was brought to my attention, I thoroughly searched the internet trying to find any sources that stated this claim and would have included them in the article, as I have said numerous times. I was unable to find any sources claiming that she never existed. I may agree that some sources I included were not the best or most reliable sources, but sourcing this article was difficult and I can assure you (yet again) that I had no ulterior motive when sourcing the article. ExRat (talk) 13:58, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
I don't think anyone suggested that you had any motive, merely that authors when compiling a book of killers tend not include a section on people who did not exist.--95.147.97.99 (talk) 23:02, 3 June 2015 (UTC)
It occurs to me that the global Wikipedia community may be will placed to do sufficient research to determine whether or not this case is fictitious. It seems that what sourcing we have right now tends to the lower quality and tabloid style "shock and horror" genre. I found similar online, including a blog which we should not consider as a reliable source but which I think can inform our judgment that if this is a hoax, it is a hoax which has been circulating from at least 1925.
How can we resolve this? I think the best way will be to recruit some help from our Romanian, Hungarian, and perhaps former-Yugoslavian colleagues, who can ask around in their own communities to find people who are skilled at looking into newspaper archives of that era. I should think that if such a case really happened, the reliable newspapers of that era would have covered the case extensively - 35 victims would get some attention for sure! To kick this off, I will email a friend from Hungarian Wikipedia and ask him to look into the case.
Barring that, I think the current state of the article is more or less ok for now. We do caution readers that there is some possibility that the story is not true, based on the Guinness disclaimer of 1972.--Jimbo Wales (talk) 15:31, 13 June 2013 (UTC)
Since the most probable place was in Serbia, I've already asked for help there. "Berkerekul" (Zrenjanin) had a population of at least 26,000 at the time (with double that in the surroundings), so it wasn't exactly back of the woods. 86.121.18.17 (talk) 00:29, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
Also Special:Contributions/82.208.200.246 (who is not me) already did some research in a section above:

I am from Serbia so once I came across this story I took interest to check it and the truth is - no one from here I asked, including a Faculty of Law professor and a Crime Academy assistant from Zrenjanin ever heard of the story before. There is also an online archive of the country's leading daily newspaper Politika dating from 1904. I checked the numbers dated 18-22. May 1925. and there is no word about Vera Renczi - here's a link to 1st Jan 1925. number - use the middle of the five buttons to chose a different day in the same year: http://scc.digital.nb.rs/document/P-2484-1925 . There are extensive descriptions of much less important criminal trials then would be a case for a woman that poisoned 35 people, so if her story were true it would have certainly been covered. I failed to find a single source in Serbian about her even though she was a Hungarian-Romanian who killed in Yugoslavia which would be hard to explain - if she had indeed existed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 82.208.200.246 (talk) 14:46, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

-- 86.121.18.17 (talk) 01:13, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
It took me a while to find the new URL for Politika's digital archive; that one is dead. If anyone wants to look further go here. (I can read the Cyrillic alphabet, but do not understand the Serbo-Croatian language except by similarity with Russian and Bulgarian.) 86.121.18.17 (talk) 01:27, 14 June 2013 (UTC)
Also, if her birth place is accurate (Bucharest, 1903), a record of her birth should not be that hard to trace, given that the civil records became a lay affair in Romania in 1864, being kept at the city hall thereafter; they now have some sort of effort in centralizing the historical ones at their National Archives, which seems to be conveniently located just across the street from the Bucharest city hall. 86.121.18.17 (talk) 01:24, 15 June 2013 (UTC)
Alas, that wouldn't work either. Allegedly Renczi/Renici is not her maiden name, and, according to at least some versions of the story, she became Madame Renczi after leaving Bucharest. Her maiden name - you guessed it - has been conveniently lost to the ravages of time. In fact the "beauty" of this remarkable story is the scarcity of any traceable details. It just occurred to me that all of her alleged husbands and lovers (e.g. "a rich banker named Milorad") lack surnames or any other personal details as well. Yet it all supposedly came to pass only a lifetime ago. Again, very telling, and very convenient! 86.41.72.238 (talk) 20:33, 12 December 2013 (UTC)