Monday, April 05, 2004

In Romania, pre-emptive strikes on 'vampires'

By Matthew Schofield

MAROTINU DE SUS, Romania — Before Toma Petre's relatives pulled his body from the grave, ripped out his heart, burned it to ashes, mixed it with water and drank it, he hadn't been in the news much.

That's often the way here with vampires. Quiet lives, active deaths.

Villagers here aren't up in arms about the undead — they're pretty common — but they are outraged that the police are involved in a simple vampire slaying. After all, vampire slaying is an accepted, though hidden, bit of national heritage, even if illegal.

"What did we do?" pleaded Flora Marinescu, Petre's sister and the wife of the man accused of re-killing him. "If they're right, he was already dead. If we're right, we killed a vampire and saved three lives. ... Is that so wrong?"

Yes, according to the Romanian State Police. Its view, expressed by Constantin Ghindeano, the chief agent for the region, is that vampires aren't real, and dead bodies in graves aren't to be dug out and killed again, even by relatives.

He doesn't really have much more to say on this case, other than noting that Petre had been removed from his grave, his heart had been cut out and it was presumed to have been consumed by his relatives. Ghindeano added that police were expanding the investigation, which began in mid-January, to include the after-deaths of others in area.

"The investigation is ongoing, and we expect to file charges later," he said, referring to possible counts of disturbing the peace of the dead, which could carry a three-year jail term. "We are determining whether this was an isolated case or whether there is a pattern in the village."

Romania has been filled with news of the vampire-slaying inquiry, and villagers admit there's a pattern, but they argue that that's why these matters shouldn't make it to court. There's too much of it going on, and too few complain about the practice.

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Buffy would be damn proud. Read the full article here.

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