The panic of vampires began in Europe, but it wasn't Vlad the Impaler of 40,000 victims who set off the primal fear of vampires. That honor fell on the 1726 death of a Serbian soldier, Arnold Paole, and was followed by many tales of scary vampire encounters.
Doomed Soldier Homecoming
Arnold Paole returned home from the war claiming that a vampire had stalked and attacked him while he was in the Ottoman territories. He told how he'd tracked the creature to its grave and killed it. He boasted that he'd cured himself of vampirism by eating the soil from the vampire's grave and slathering himself with its blood.
However, when Paole died, people in the village started seeing him, claiming that he was haunting them. Soon, these people began to die. Eventually, 16 people in the small village died, all claiming to have been haunted by Paole. The historical account leaves the reader with the assumption that Paole was actually feeding off of these people.
Paole's corpse was exhumed and to the villagers' horror he'd grown new fingernails and it appeared he hadn't decomposed in the least. They drove a stake through his heart and Paole screamed in agony, struggling against the stake as they pounded it into the ground, pinning him in the grave. They chopped off his head and tossed it into a big fire, followed by the rest of his body. The deaths in the village stopped.
Second Wave of Vampires
But in 1731, a new wave of vampire deaths struck with 10 people dying just a few days after growing ill. Two women who had separately immigrated from the Ottoman territories were blamed. One had told of having eaten a sheep that vampires had killed. The other one had covered her body and her child's body in vampire blood for protection, since the area was rumored to be overrun by vampires.
The military sent a doctor who specialized in infectious diseases to investigate, but he couldn't find any cause of the deaths. The villagers claimed the first woman who'd died had attacked the others. A total of 17 people in the village eventually died. The doctor had the bodies of several victims exhumed and discovered they had not decomposed. Curiously, the latest victims had decomposed. He requested that the government allow the villagers to carry out their request to burn the vampires.
Instead, the military sent a second team of investigators to the village that included a military surgeon and two other doctors along with a handful of soldiers. Upon exhuming the bodies, it was discovered that five bodies were badly decomposed, but the others were not. In fact, it was observed that their organs held fresh blood; the fingernails had been replaced with new ones, as had the skin. The commission agreed to the beheading and burning of the vampires' heads and bodies. After these two outbreaks, it was commonly believed that vampires were real!
Ancient Biblical Alukah
Alukah is considered a Babylonian demon. Solomon wrote about this creature in Proverbs 30 and how it is never satisfied. Alukah means horse leech, and it has lots of teeth to allow it to latch onto the throats of all kinds of animals to suck their blood. The word has also been identified by some scholars to mean blood-lusting creature/monster. Or, in more modern terms, vampire.
The Alukah has the ability to shape-shift into a wolf and can fly when it releases its long, flowing hair. If it cannot feed on blood, it will die. It is believed that the only way to stop the dead vampire from transforming into a demon is to stuff earth into its mouth and then bury it. However, there is also the story that there is only one way to destroy the Alukah and that is by the hand of God.
Vampires of the Black Plague
The stories from the time of the Black Plague are filled with all kinds of strange phenomena and vampires. During the 16th century tragic illness that moved over Europe, it was rumored that vampires had fed off of the first victims of the plague and had spread it. The fear of both vampires and the plague created terrified panic. Anyone suspected of being a vampire was slaughtered and rocks or stones were jammed into their mouths to prevent them from rising once more or transforming into demons.
Vampires in Chinese mythology are called Chiang-shih. This type of vampire goes for the chi in the person that is extracted by sucking the very breath from the person. A person cannot be transformed into a vampire after they are buried. The change must take place between the time of death and before burial.
Their appearance is daunting and terrifying to witnesses. Their hair is very long and even their eyebrows are long. Their fingernails a wickedly sharp and very long. Their skin has a greenish glow, and their teeth are sharp and jagged.
Like its western vampire cousins, the Chiang-shih is nocturnal and has superhuman strength. In fact, the vampire often decapitates its victims or will rip off an arm or leg in its attack. The Chiang-shih can fly, but like spirits, it cannot cross overflowing water, like a river, stream, or ocean. The Chiang-shih can be repelled with garlic, or by tossing small things for it to count, such as rice or peas. Another commonality with western vampires is how they can be repelled by reading religious texts out loud or by wearing/holding religious symbols or talismans.
Was Richard Chase a Modern Vampire?
Richard Chase was a monster in the media. He was declared a modern vampire, having slaughtered six people so he could drink their blood. Richard's story may not be the sensationalized news story, but a tale of a paranoid schizophrenic.
Clinically diagnosed, Richard exhibited an odd obsession with vampirism. He believed that drinking blood from animals or by simply eating raw meat would cure him. When he decided to inject rabbit blood directly into his veins, he ended up in the hospital with blood poisoning. This wasn't enough to dissuade him from his theory. In fact, he ended up in the hospital a second time after he sucked the blood of two birds. Once more, Richard was released from the hospital in the care of his parents.
Richard's obsession with his blood cure escalated from animals to humans. Beginning in 1977 and ending when he was captured in 1979, Richard killed six people so he could drink their blood in his quest for a cure. He was convicted and sentenced to execution in the gas chamber. However, Richard committed suicide with a drug overdose before the execution could be carried out. While Richard Chase had a mental/physiological disease, could there be some unknown underlying affliction that created a genuine thirst for blood?
Scary Stories of Vampires
History is steeped in tales of vampires. It's difficult to deny that in some cultures, vampires are considered to be real.