Behold: The Pickled Head Of Portugal's First Serial Killer

Behold: The Pickled Head Of Portugal's First Serial Killer image

Behold: The Pickled Head Of Portugal's First Serial Killer

Meet Diogo Alves, Portugal's first serial killer. Though executed in 1841, he still serves as a poster child for the wrath of the Portuguese criminal justice system.

And on a more brutal note, Alves pickled noggin is a reminder that phrenology, a popular pseudoscience at the time, was once a legitimate practice.

The story of Avles' disembodied head goes back to his first days in Lisbon, Portugal when he first turned to crime. After not being able to find employment in his new city, he gave up on regular work and turned to a life of thievery and murder.

His most "profitable" stint involved preying on travelers crossing the aqueduct bridge to leave the city.

This particular aqueduct is called the Aqueduto das Águas Livres, or "Aqueduct of the Free Waters". It stands 213 feet above the Alcântara valley and stretches for a third of a mile in length.

Alves would wait on the bridge for nightfall to catch farmers on their way home. He would rob them and then push them to their death. This happened more than 70 times.

It wasn't until Alves expanded his operation to target private homes of Lisbon's wealthier population that the police finally stepped in. He was eventually caught and hung in February 1841.

After Alves was executed, the top phrenologists of the day requested his head in order to study it. They believed that a person's character traits and criminal propensity could be analyzed just by looking at the shape of their skull. Needless to say, Alves was a dream specimen for their bizarre phrenology studies.

Where is Alves' disembodied head today? It's sitting on a shelf at the University of Lisbon's Faculty of Medicine, pickling until kingdom come. So in case you were thinking of making the trip, Alves will (most likely) still be there waiting for you.

Via Atlas Obscura

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