Blood Sucking Fiends Part 5: The Second Death of Petre Toma

Imagine if you can, it is a dark moonless night in the rural countryside of Romania. An angry group of people from a village gather at the gates of a nearby cemetery filled with the mortal remains of their dearly departed. They are not there to pay homage to those who have gone before, but rather to hunt down and destroy a monster. They are on the hunt for a creature borne of darkness. A hideous being they believe to be a dreaded Strigoi, a vampire. And they will not stop until this undead horror realizes its final death.

This scene may sound like something out of a classic 1960s Hammer horror film. Or maybe, this is something that occurred centuries earlier, when long forgotten superstitions ruled the lives of the Romanian peasantry. Believe it or not on both counts, you would be dead wrong.

The scene I painted for you didn’t happen in the 16th century, but rather a mere seventeen years ago. The incident in question occurred a few days before Christmas in 2003 in Marotinu de Sus, a small village in southwest Romania. It was on that night when the mortal remains of Petre Toma was disturbed from his eternal slumber and horrifically torn to pieces – all because they believed Toma was a Strigoi. 

But what is a Strigoi? 

The windswept cliffs of the dark Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania are regarded as the birthplace of the modern vampire myth. Bram Stoker placed the home of his immortal lord of the damned in this ancient land. Believe it or not, the word “vampire” doesn’t fit into the undead folklore of Romania. Rather the people call them Strigoi and they are far more terrifying than Stoker’s anti-hero could ever hope to be.

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Belief in the Strigoi pre-dates Christianity by centuries and is believed to be based on the Striges, a hideous shapeshifting vampire found in darker Greek mythology. One of the earliest recorded reports of a Strigoi in Romania comes to us from 1672. After being dead for sixteen years, Jure Grando Alilovic, a man from the region of Istria, allegedly rose from the grave and terrorized his family. Eventually Alilovic was exhumed by the villagers and a priest to be dispatched permanently from this world.

Four centuries later, the belief in this undead monster still going strong and the means to send it back to hell is still in practice. 

In December 2003, six men from Marotinu de Sus were arrested and brought up on charges of corpse desecration. When questioned why they committed this unthinkable act against the corpse of Petre Toma, they responded after the man died, he became a Strigoi; and if they hadn’t dealt with him in such a manner, others would have joined him in the ranks of the undead.

When they were questioned in court, their testimony sounded as if it was ripped straight out of a horror movie. According to the defenders, including Toma’s brother in law Geourghu Marinescu, six weeks after his death, Toma arose from the grave. For several nights he invaded the dreams of his family and friends with nightmarish images of himself. Not only was he causing nightmares, Petre was pinning people to their beds and sucking their blood. Several victims showed signs of a strange disease that stole their vitality. Upon hearing this, Geourghu Marinescu, gathered together five other relatives and decided to put an end to the Strigoi’s reign of terror. 

“What did we do? If they’re right, he was already dead. If we’re right, we killed a vampire and saved three lives. … Is that so wrong?”

Flora Marinescu, Petre’s sister and the wife of the man accused of re-killing him

When Marinescu and his compatriots found the grave, they quickly went about exhuming the putrefied remains of Petre. In accordance with age old tradition, the brave vampire hunters tore the corpse’s heart out and burned it to ash on a nearby rock. Then they mixed the ashes with water and those who were sick drank the foul concoction and were immediately cured of the pestilence the Strigoi spread to them. With the deed done, the people were able to return to their peaceful existence free of the wretched fiend, Petre Toma. 

That peace wasn’t going to be long lasting.

When word of the arcane ritual reached the Romanian government, they were less than thrilled with what they heard. Romania had finally shrugged off its old Soviet ways and cruel dictatorship and were preparing to enter the European Union. If news of this filtered out to the rest of the continent, government officials feared they would still be regarded as a nation forever stuck in its past. They had to act and protect the interests of Romania and its future as a citizen of the world.

A few mornings after the ritual, police officers from Dolj county were sent to Marotinu de Sus and arrested Geourghu Marinescu and his band of vampire hunters. All six, including a handful of other townspeople, were arrested and charged with “disturbing the peace of the dead.” When the trial was over, each person was sentenced to six months’ time served and forced to pay restitution to the family of the accused Strigoi.

Looking back on this very modern vampire hunt, skeptics would contend that ancient superstitions and mass hysteria drove the people to commit this unspeakable act. A crime, that by today’s standards, should have sent everyone to jail for years. Nevertheless, this is Romania, a land still believed to be haunted by the undead. The people of Marotinu de Sus, believed a monster was in their midst and did what they felt was the best course of action to take. It has been 17 years since this gothic incident and Petre Toma troubles this town no more.

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About Rick Hale 26 Articles
Rick Hale became interested in anomalous phenomenon at an early age after encountering an apparition in his grandparent's home. Rick is the author of "The Geek's Guide To The Strange and Unusual: Poltergeists, Ghost and Demons," and "Behold! Shocking True Tales Off Terror...And Some Other Spooky Stuff." Rick has been published in Haunted Times Magazine, Paranormal Underground Magazine, The Supernatural Magazine, Spookyisles.com and Legends Magazine. Rick appeared in Ghost Tapes 2 and Ghost Tapes: The Series found at YouTube.com.
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