Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Crimes of Bela Kiss

The Tinsmith Cometh

Sketch of Bela Kiss
Sketch of Bela Kiss

In Hungary in the early 1900s, young Bela Kiss moved into a house at 9 Kossuth Street that he rented on the outskirts of Cinkota, a quiet little town just of outside of Budapest.

Kiss was a rather handsome man with blond hair and remarkable, vibrant blue eyes.  He earned his living as a tinsmith and was 37-years-old when he was called into the armed services in 1914.

Not only had Kiss taught himself his trade as a tinsmith, but he was a voracious reader and was highly conversant on art, literature and history. With no formal schooling at all, he was able to discuss virtually any subject with the most intelligent and educated of the town's people.

He struck his fellow villagers as an amiable and  hard-working fellow with a penchant for throwing parties at a local hotel. He was known as a generous person. Everybody liked Bela Kiss and he was considered by the women of the town to be its most eligible bachelor.

Not particularly eager to marry quickly, Kiss hired an elderly woman, Mrs. John Jakubec, as a housekeeper to perform the domestic duties that a wife would normally do.

Cinkota had a limited choice of female companions, so Kiss kept an apartment in Budapest and took out advertisements in newspapers there. Women began corresponding with Kiss. 

Town gossips noted that over the years a steady stream of lovelies from Budapest spent short periods of time at Kiss's home in Cinkota, but no one in the town, not even Mrs. Jakubec, was introduced to these young women who came and went so quickly.

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