Ő was then married without övé consent to 46-year-old Reiger Pál, a wagon driver, and became known, as per the local tradition as Reiger Pálné. As no dowry was provided, ő was regarded as a sort of unpaid domestic servant. A few months later Pál made a wrong accusation as to who was stealing his tobacco, and then found out that it was his new wife. Ő had been smoking since childhood on doctor’s advice because of a lung disease. He also learned that when working as a shepherd, ő had become accustomed to drinking in taverns. Most years they had a pregnancy, six in all, but most became miscarriages, and only one child survived. Ő hated having sex with övé husband, and he beat őt regularly.
In 1910, ő left him. Ő flattened övé breasts with rags and straps, wore male clothing and gave övé name as Pipás Pista (Pista is a nickname derived from Istvan or Steven, and Pipás is a pipe smoker). Ő travelled around the Great Hungarian Plain doing male jobs such as plowing, sowing, harvesting and slaughtering pigs. Ő was primarily employed by widows or wives whose husband was not able or not doing the job for whatever reason. The advent of war in 1914 increased such employment.
With the end of war, the dual sovereignty of the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary fell apart. Austria became a republic. In Hungary, after a year of being a republic, strongman and last Admiral of the Hungarian Navy, Miklós Horthy took over, re-established the Kingdom of Hungary and declared himself Regent. The apparent king, Károly IV, twice attempted to take the throne, but was rebuffed, exiled to Madeira and died shortly afterwards. Hungary continued as a kingdom without a king. By the Treaty of Trianon, 1920, Hungary lost over 70% of its territory as Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Poland came into being, and Romania was enlarged.
Szeged was now a border town close to both Romania and the new Yugoslavia. Pipás Pista went into a partnership with a wagon driver to smuggle goods from Subotica (Szabadka in Hungarian).
The widow did not feel secure alone and invited Pipás to live with her. However ő stole hens and was often drunk. The widow felt that Pipás was as bad as her husband. Ő did not co-habit with any other later clients, mainly being paid with agricultural products and some money.
The arrest of course outed Pipás Pista as having a female body, and ö was compelled to dress as a woman for the trial, something that caused őt obvious distress. Ő remained unwilling to admit to being a woman, even though it was reported that her gender was an open secret.
- Judit Ember (dir). Pipás Pista és társai. MTV-2, Sepember 1983, Hungary
- “The Cross-Dressing Husband-Killer For Hire: Viktoria Foedi Rieger – 1933”. Unknown Gender History, September 25, 2011. Online.
- “P is for Pipás Pista, Cross-Dressing Assassin for Hire” . MopDog, April 18, 2014. Online.
- Tamas Bezsenyi. “The First Female Serial Killer in the Kingdom of Hungary”. In: Nermin Ahmed Haikal and Morag Kennedy (eds) The Spectacle of Murder: Fact, Fiction and Folk Tales. Brill, 2016: 9-17.
- Tamas Bezsenyi. “The Great War in the Backyard: The Unsettling Case of a Rural Hit(Wo)man”. In Nari Shelekpayev, Francois-Oliver Dorais, Daria Dyakonova & Solene Maillet (eds)i. Empires, Nations and Private Lives: Essays on the Social and Cultural History of the Great War. Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2016: 171-184.
As the old saying goes: divorce is better than murder. However in a culture where young woman, that is teenage girls, are married off without their consent and divorce is not available ....
These are hardly the only examples of husband elimination.
Here is the case of Madam Popova executed in Samara, Russia in 1909 accused of over 300 such killings.
Tamas Bezsenyi, in The Spectacle of Murder comments:
"In fact, this kind of murder, the poisoning of men returning home from the war, was not a new kind of criminal activity among women, especially among rural women. In the Gendarme pocketbook (which was published every year) of 1904 an anonymous officer wrote an analysis about the poisoning crimes. He stated that this kind of crime was really well known among midwives (old women who assisted in childbirth), for whom active ingredients of various chemical agents was already known. These women distributed these agents in exchange for money or other benefits in several parts of the country. In a research group, we analysed the poisonings around Tiszazug. We found that the first case of poisoning took place in 1905. During the Horthy era the existence of poisoning can also be proven in other villages besides Tiszazug, e.g. in the county of Békés and Csongrád. Across the Danube, on the other side of Hungary, in the county of Zala, some cases also revealed the use of arsenic."