Stillou Christofi was born in a poor Cypriot village in 1900 and after her marriage, she had her only son, Stavros. Being a bossy woman, she could not tolerate her mother-in-law living under the same roof with her, so, one night of 1925, Stillou killed her with the help of two of her friends. Her two accomplices kept Stillou’s mother-in-law still while she was pushing a lit torch into her mouth. The three killers covered for each other, and the trial ended with Stillou Christofi leaving the court as a free woman.
Stillou’s husband was not convinced, and he left her and their son, Stavros, alone. In 1941, Stavros Christofis left for Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, in order to make some extra money and after a while he moved to London and started working for Café de Paris, one of the most popular nightclubs in the city. That’s where he found love.
Hella Bleicher was a beautiful German, who worked as a saleswoman in a clothing store and fell instantly in love with Stavros. The two of them decided to get married out of the blue, and Stavros had just committed two crimes that his mother was about to punish him for: he had married a foreign woman and he had not even asked for her permission. She was furious.
The couple had three children, and after they moved to a new house, Stillou decided to pay a visit but after a while she informed her son that she was moving permanently. As soon as she settled down, the fights and the tension started increasing since she believed that Hella was not good enough for her only son. She believed that only one woman should be in his heart. His mother. Herself.
In her mind, Hella was the obstacle between her and her son since she believed that her daughter-in-law was the one to blame for everything: the ugly decoration of the house, the children’s bad manners, and the fact that Stavros did not want to go back to Cyprus ever again. Hella could not put up with these, and she informed her husband that she was going to a trip to Germany with their children. When she was coming back, he should have kicked his mother out of the house. Stillou was eavesdropping, and that’s when she decided that Hella had to die. And guess what. She did.
On Wednesday, July 28, 1954, Stavros was leaving for work when his mother was reading her book in the living room. Hella had just put the three children in bed, and she was about to have a shower. When the bathroom door closed, Stillou took the metal tray placed under the wooden stove, opened the bathroom door and hit her daughter-in-law in her head making her lose her senses. After that, she dragged her to the kitchen and struggled her to death using a scarf. According to the forensic report, Stillou had put so much effort that the scarf had penetrated Hella’s skin. Stillou took her son’s wife wedding ring off, hid it in her room, and dragged the dead body out to the garden where she set it on fire. Work, done.
It was around 1 am when Mr. And Mrs. Burstoff were getting back home from the restaurant they ran together. Stillou Christofi stopped their car in shock and led them to her son’s yard where Hella’s dead body was still on fire. Mr. Burnstoff called the police and everyone noticed the strangulation marks around Hella’s neck. Stillou tried to convince the authorities that she knew nothing about the fire and that she was in the living room the whole time until she saw the flames out of the window. No one believed her and she got arrested.
The Christofi trial started on October 25, 1954, and lasted for four days. After she got convicted of first-degree murder, she shouted “No!” and refused to plead insanity: “I may be poor and illiterate, but I am not crazy. Never!” she said. After that, everything started moving extremely fast with every single evidence leading to her guilt (Hella’s wedding ring, the scarf in her neck, blood on the floor). Stillou Pantopiou was the first woman convicted to death by hanging in thirty years, and, on December 15, 1954, she died in Halloway prison by the famous hangman, Alber Pierrepoint. Her son was not present, and he never visited her grave.