Be careful, you may lose your head in Budapest

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Would you like to get a taste of the mysterious side of Budapest? Our project aims to discover this exciting part of the Hungarian capital by presenting some stories and places which are somehow mysterious. This article serves as an introduction: we collected some interesting murder cases that happened in Budapest.

Harry and Marv, Budapest version 188

I find it a funny story but I am not sure that György Majláth would agree with me. He was the leader of the Hungarian jurisdiction from 1865 to 1883, when he was killed in his own house (Batthyány Palace, Dísz Square). Humour passes into the story when we take a look at the murderers who may have been the equivalents of Harry and Marv, the well-known burglars of Home Alone. But before talking about the similarities, we have to admit that one thing is totally different: they managed to do what they had planned. Besides this, they were just as lubberly as Kevin’s ‘friends’.

Pál Spanga and Mihály Pitéri Oláh decided to kill the most important judge of Hungary on a stormy night. They had no special intentions except for stealing the treasures of this rich member of the nobility. The problems arose after the successful murder. They washed their hands in the victim’s house, used his towel, left their hats and gloves in the house, and shoe traces that they had also given to a shoemaker, just for safety’s sake. What is more, they discussed the details in a little pub and told the barman their names.

Although the police could not identify shoetraces at that time, they were easily arrested and executed.

The crossword suicide

“The solution will give you the exact reasons for my suicide and also the names of the people concerned”. A note containing this sentence and a crossword: that was all that Gyula Antal left behind after committing suicide in Café Emke in 1926. According to the articles of Az Est (daily newspaper) the crossword was never solved and it will probably remain a secret as it totally disappeared.


Antal entered one of the traditional cafés of Budapest after midnight and had a coffee. Later he tried to call someone on telephone but he didn’t manage to, and an hour later he was found dead in the toilet. He shot himself in the head.

This suicide raises many mysterious questions. Who was this man named Gyula Antal? Why did he kill himself in a café? Why did he make a crossword? Where is this crossword now and why did it always remain unsolved?

A missing head

They tried to poison him but they didn’t manage to. Eventually they decided to cut his neck, chop him into pieces, put the pieces in a suitcase and threw it into the Danube at Margit híd.

That’s how Ferenc Kodelka, the rich butcher was killed by Gusztáv Léderer and his wife in 1925. This case was one of the biggest sensations in Hungary between the two wars, and there are suspicions that the couple may have committed other murders too. In this case the reason for the crime was the fact that Léderer owed Kodelka much money.

The police found all the pieces of the body, except for the head. The murderers may have left it at Margaret Island, so you should not be surprised if you discover it when you are having a rest there.

To be continued

In our next article you will meet another exciting case and our personal experience of that crime.



One response to “Be careful, you may lose your head in Budapest

  1. While pretty morbid – I fully enjoyed this article! Thanks for filling us in on some of Budapest’s funny/morbid history!

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