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Serial Murder in Tehran: Crime, Science, and the Formation of Modern State and Society in Interwar Iran

  • Cyrus Schayegh (a1)

Tehran, 1934. Introducing his newest book, Mental Diseases, Dr. Muhammad-עAli Tutiyā hits a raw nerve. Iran's capital is abuzz with news about עAli Asghar Borujerdi. Earlier on that year, the man soon dubbed Asghar Qātel (the murderer) confessed to having had sexual intercourse and subsequently killed thirty-three adolescent boys. Born in 1893 in the Western Iranian town of Borujerd, at the age of eight he left with his mother and siblings for Karbalā, Iraq. Six years later, he moved on to Baghdad, and began to sexually abuse adolescents. Eventually, he began to murder them, according to his initial testimony in order to trick the police that were observing him. In 1933, after having taken twenty-five lives, he only escaped Baghdad and arrest by the skin of his teeth. Arriving in Tehran, he worked as porter and vegetable-seller, and took up residence in Bāgh-e Ferdous, a neighborhood in Tehran's poor popular south. He carried on with his deeds, killing eight boys, most of them homeless vagrants. The first bodies, heads severed, were found on 31 December 1933. Borujerdi was arrested once and released for lack of evidence, but in early March of 1934, the police detained him again, and this time he confessed. He was tried, convicted, and, after an unsuccessful appeal, was hung in front of an immense crowd in Tehran's Sepah Square on 26 June.

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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