Published On: Tue, May 31st, 2016

How the world’s first serial killer was raped to death by a giraffe as a punishment


This is the story of the world’s first serial killer who lived in Rome more than 1,900 years ago. Locusta killed her victims by poisoning them for pleasure and was punished to death by the Roman senate. The stories of her death are now legendary.

Coming from ancient Roman times is the tale of a notorious woman who in AD 54 (1st century if you need a timeline) became the first serial killer ever to achieve infamy.

Meet the medieval scientist Locusta of Gaul – the evil genius of Roman civilisation who lived during the reign of emperor Nero. The same one who fiddled while he watched Rome burn.




The story is about three characters from Rome – Emperor Nero, his mother Agrippina, and Locusta, the woman the two conspired with to kill Nero’s father emperor Claudius.



Claudius was the dumb-wit emperor. No, we are not being condescending, it’s his mother’s own assessment when she compared others with her son.

“He is a bigger fool even than my son Claudius,” she would say. So, erm, we get the idea.

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Agrippina was Claudius’ wife and their married life was a disaster to put it subtly. Nero was their son and the rightful heir of the Roman empire after emperor Claudius. But Agrippina wanted the throne to come to her son Nero sooner.

It was an act of treason. Empress Agrippina got her husband killed in a plot to crown her son Nero as the new emperor.

To carry out the act, Agrippina got together with Locusta, who mastered the art (science) of poisoning her victims. Agrippina and Locusta killed Claudius with a batch of poisoned mushrooms. And that’s how Nero became the emperor.

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Under Nero’s reign, Locusta extended her pleasure of killing people, poisoning her victims at her will and becoming a sorceress of clandestine practices.



Knowing her reality, emperor Nero issued more contracts to her to kill his rivals. Thus, Locusta lived merrily in Nero’s reign.

Over the years, the emperor lavished her with land, money, gifts, and full pardon from all the ghastly crimes she had been charged with.

Locusta soon became an ‘agent of death-by-poison’, getting contracts and assignments. She took her practice to the next level. She became a state-funded contract killer, the first of her kind ever in human history. She also started a school to teach poisoning.

The Roman senate decided to bring down emperor Nero for his rogue practices, but Nero took his life in 64 AD, with his own dagger before he could be punished.

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Left without her protector, Locusta’s time came to pay for her sins and it is said that Locusta was ordered by the senate to be publicly raped by a specially trained giraffe and then torn apart by wild animals.

Gruesome ancient punishments, you see.


Story of “Locusta the Sorceress” who was raped to death by a giraffe did rounds for a long time as the infamous legend, but there’s another legend where she was led in chains through the whole city and then executed.

Locusta holds the title of history’s first recorded serial killer for poisoning and murdering thousands. She poisoned for pleasure and for gain, eventually becoming one of the most intriguing characters in Roman history.

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology