Leonarda was quite the fortuneteller herself. She had her own clientele, and she decided to mine her victims from her existing pool of clients. She selected three women: Faustina Settie, Francesca Soavi, and Virginia Cacioppo. She gave each of them a reason to leave town, and then set to work.
She planned everything pretty well. She told Faustina that a husband was waiting for her when she left town, and told the other two, Francesca and Virginia, that jobs were waiting for them. She told them not to tell anyone they were leaving, and even told the first two, Faustina and Francesca, to send postmarked letters to friends and family saying everything was okay.
Faustina and Francesca met similar ends. They visited Leonarda one last time, and she offered them a glass of wine to toast new beginnings. The wine was drugged, and when the girls fell under the influence of the sedative, Leonarda killed them both with an ax.
Faustina’s body met a particularly nasty end. Leonarda cut the woman’s body into nine pieces, and used her blood to make teacakes, which she served to neighbors and that she and her son ate. As for her body, it was dissolved with caustic soda to make soap, and when the body inevitably turned to mush, she poured the goo into a septic tank.
Virginia died in the same way, but Leonarda’s memoir went into a lot of disturbing detail about her. She was a former soprano, and according to Leonarda, her flesh was “fat and white” and made for a “most acceptable creamy soap” when she boiled down her body. She even commented that the teacakes she made with Virginia’s body were particularly sweet.
Virginia ended up being her last victim. Virginia’s sister-in-law got suspicious of her disappearance and told the police that she’d last seen Virginia entering Leonarda’s house. They arrested her, and she admitted to everything. She was so unrepentant of the whole thing, she’d actually correct lawyers who got details wrong. She even donated the copper ladle she’d used on the human fat to the war effort.
Leonarda was found guilty and sentenced to thirty years in prison and three years in a criminal asylum, which is what the psychic said. She wrote a memoir of her crimes, describing everything, and her life has inspired plays and films. She’s a prime example of what happens when you get too hung up on superstition, because if she hadn’t put so much emphasis on that, she never would have done what she did.