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Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Robberies
Number of victims: 10 - 25
Date of murders: 1946 - 1947
Date of arrest: April 1947
Date of birth: July 7, 1924
Victims profile: A man and nine women
Method of murder: Blows to the head with various objects
Location: Germany
Status: Sentenced to 12 years in prison for manslaughter in ax murder of a salesman, 1947. Sentenced to life in prison for nine rape-murders, 1950. Committed suicide by hanging in prison on February 18, 1958

A small, chubby bespectacled man, Rudolf Pleil took to murder immediately after trying it for the first time. But no one knew the extent of his crimes until he was sent off to prison on a charge of manslaughter for the clubbing of a salesman with an ax in 1947.

The jury, during the course of the trial, decided that the harmless looking man did not intend to kill the victim, and that the crime was "spur of the moment."

However, sentenced to twelve years for the crime, Pleil spent his time in prison writing his memoirs, which he entitled "Mein Kampf". His subtitle for the work? "Rudolf Pleil-Death Dealer (retired)."

It was around the same time that a young woman came to the police with a story of the recently imprisoned man, laying out a new scenario, one that would eventually lead to yet another German "monster" responsible for scores of murders.

The women told of the time she crossed paths with Pleil, who was working as a border guard after the war. She was trying to escape East Germany, and Pleil offered to help. He did in fact manage to get her over the the west side of the wall, however, once he had her in a desolate area, he started to beat her until, he thought, she was unconcious.

Actually, the woman faked being beaten senseless, and when Pleil left her, presumedly for dead, she ran off to safety.

The police followed up on the story and began to dig a little deeper into the young man's past. It wasn't long before they uncovered a history of multiple murders, apparently born out of the second World War while he served as a German soldier.

It seems that Pleil, along with so many others in the German army during the war, discovered his penchant for human suffering while witnessing first hand the atrocities of war victims at the hands of Nazi death squads. He claims that his first "sexual experience" was when he saw naked, battered bodies being thrown like garbage into a freshly dug pit by the Gestapo near his military post.

After the war he put his new found tastes into action by posing as a border guard in the no-man's land near Saxony seperating the East and West and picking up desperate women trying to flee the Eastern Bloc.

Usually he raped, then killed the women, leaving them for dead wherever they lay. His weapons changed every time. He would use hatchets, knives, a hammer or a stone. Some of the items were found, some were part of his personal arsenal.

He even had two accomplices at one point who helped trap the victims. However, when it came to murdering them, it was all Pleil. Oddly, he had a falling out with one of them because of an incident where the accomplice insisted on decapitating the victim, enraging Pleil who could not understand why he would suggest such a barbaric action.

It wasn't until the uncharacteristic murder of the male salesman that Pleil was imprisoned for a crime, leading to the uncovering of the others. The police reworked the case and eventually charged Pleil with nine counts of rape and murder, to which Pleil insisted he be charged with the "correct" number of 25, issei sagawa crime scene photos stating that,"You underestimate me, I am Germany's greatest killer. I put others, both here and abroad, to shame." He also insisted that he be known as "the best death-maker in Germany."

Sentenced to life in prison, Pleil lasted until 1958, when he hanged himself in his cell.

Rudolf Pleil

Rudolf Pleil made an unlikely-looking monster. Fat and jovial, he radiated charm and a disarming sense of humor, worming his way into the confidence of the women who became his victims. None would see the darker side in time to save themselves, but it existed all the same, concealed within a man who called himself Germany's "champion death-maker." As Pleil once explained, "Every man has his passion. Some prefer whist. I prefer killing people."

His taste for blood surfaced early in life, when Pleil tortured and killed a cat at age seven. Later, as a teenage soldier during World War II, he had an opportunity to witness victims stripped and starved to death by the Gestapo, recalling the grisly spectacle as "my finest sexual experience."

In March 1946, Pleil claimed his first human victim, braining Eva Miehe with an ax and dumping her body in a canal. Others would follow, through 1946 and early 1947, with Pleil impersonating a policeman, offering to escort female refugees across the frontier from East Germany into the western zone. Instead of sanctuary, they found death, invariably raped by Pleil, then killed and mutilated as he tried his hand with hatchets, hammers, knives and stones. In 1947, he was charged with manslaughter and sentenced to twelve years in prison after impulsively axing a salesman to death. Marking time in his cell, he prepared a diary titled Mein Kampf: signing it "by Rudolf Pleil, death dealer (retired)."

The killer's hopes for freedom were demolished when a lone survivor of his murder spree, Frau Lydia Schmidt, identified Pleil as the man who bludgeoned her and then did "indescribable things" to her prostrate body. Police launched a full-scale investigation, ultimately charging Pleil with nine rape-slayings. Five of the victims were never identified, but detectives did name two accomplices. At his trial in Brunswick, in November 1950, Pleil would share the dock with 36-year-old Karl Hoffman, charged in six slayings, and 22-year-old Konrad Schuessler, linked with two murders and one bungled attempt.

Pleil's behavior was bizarre and arrogant throughout the trial. Whenever prosecutors made a reference to his estimated body count, he interrupted them indignantly. "It is 25," he insisted. "I had 25 victims but they can find only nine bodies. You underrate me. I am Germany's greatest killer. I put others, both here and abroad, to shame."

Pleil angrily denied that any of his victims had been killed for purposes of robbery, maintaining that the random slaughter had been "necessary for my sexual satisfaction." "What I did is not such a great harm," he declared, "with all these surplus women nowadays. Anyway, I had a good time."

Convicted across the board, all three defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment. Pleil passed his time by writing to authorities and offering the whereabouts of new remains, in exchange for an "airing" to visit the scene of his crimes. On one occasion, he wrote to the mayor of a town, offering his services as a hangman; his credentials for the job could be determined by examining an old well on the city's outskirts - where authorities retrieved a woman's strangled corpse.

In time, Pleil tired of the sadistic game and made good on his promise that "I'll hang myself one day." In February 1958, a jailer found him dangling in his cell, the final victim of his own desire to kill.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans

Rudolf Pleil

"You underrate me, I am Germany's greatest killer. I put others, both here and abroad, to shame."

Rudolf Pleil was a little chubby guy. He always seemed happy, smiling constantly. He served in Hitler's army, working on Germany's East/West border. this is where Pleil decided to look for a new career.

In the beginning Pleil was just a thief. He'd find lone refugees crossing to the West and rob them, occasionally touching them up a bit along the way. This changed in March, 1946.

Pleil beat Eva Miehe, then raped her. For some reason he chose to take this one a step further and smashed he skull in with a single blow from an axe. He later said the murder was for 'sexual gratification'.

Pleil went on to copy this M.O. frequently. At time he had accomplices with him during the murders. Karl Hoffmann and Konrad Schuessler went out with Pleil occasionally, although it was always Pleil who finished the victim off. The only changes in his M.O. is the choice of weapon. He variously changed between axes, knives, mallets, rope and bricks.

Pleil's murders were eventually stopped when he killed a travelling salesman, the only male victim, with an axe. He was charged with, and found guilty of, manslaughter. He was sentenced to twelve years jail.

While in prison he set about writing his memeoirs, which contained descriptions of 25 murders. Once this was discovered police looked into his crimes. Obviously at this time it was hard to track down people in Germany, and the case was going nowhere until Lydia Scmidt came forward to tell a rather interesting story about her run in with Pleil. She had been raped, beaten and left for dead. Luckily for her, but not for pleil, she had survived and now the police had something. When questioned about the murders he had written about Pleil wasted no time admitting to them. He also had no trouble ratting on his friends. Karl Hoffmann and Konrad Schuessler were charged for various crimes, included some of being accessory to murder.

Pleil was charged with, and found guilty of, 9 murders. He was sentenced to life in prison.
In February 1958 Pleil carried out his final act. He was found hanged in his prison cell

"Every man has his passion; some like whist, I prefer killing people."

Interesting Stuff

Pleil seemed to have a weird set of ethics. He had no problem with the rape and murders, but on one occasion he bashed one of his accomplices for beginning to decapitate one of the victims. It seemed that Pleil thought the act of decapitation was disgusting.

In jail he wrote his life story, calling it 'Mein Kampf' (sound familiar???). Pleil signed it "by Rudolf Pleil, death dealer (retired)."

During Pleil's trial it came out that Pleil had applied for the job of Hangman. On his application he had written that if they needed any convincing of his skill they should check out a certain well. Obviously this was laughed at and ignored. When eventually checked, there was a strangled corpse found in the well.

During Pleil's trial he continuously interrupted, demanding the charges be lifted to 25 murders, not 9.

The Wacky World of Murder


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