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The Source:

John V.A. Fine, Jr. :
"In defense of Vampires"
in Alan Dunde's "The Vampire - A Casebook"
University of Wisconsin Press, USA, 1998

The translation by Mr. Fine appears to be based on T. Djordjevic's "Gradja za Srpske narodne obicaje iz vremena prve vlade Kneza Milosa", which is said to have been published in the "Srpski Etnografski Zbornik" in 1914.

The Case:

The story, as given by Mr. Fine, starts with an accusation made by the priests of Timok to the district Court of Porec about the inhabitants of the village Sarbanovac. According to the villagers, nine corpses in the local graveyard had turned into vampires and had strangled several men and children, six infants and a number of animals. The villagers turned to their local priest for help, but where forbidden to disinter the corpses.

So one day, when the priest was out of town, they hastened to the cemetery to inspect the suspected corpses. A man called Novak Mikov was paid to do the dirty work. He dug up the vampires, cut out their hearts and boiled them in wine. After this culinary intermezzo the hearts were stuffed back into place, and the corpses reburied. There was one exception. When the grave of Jona, the wife of Vinulov, was opened everyone agreed that she was no vampire, so her corpse was buried intact.

Apparently the priest found out what had happened and reported the crimes to the worldly authorities. The vampire hunters soon found themselves in front of the district court of Zajecar. Novak Mikov and one of his helpers, Radovan Petrov, were both sentenced to seven days in jail plus thirty cane strokes for good measure.

The Date:

On June 1, 1839, the church sends its complaint to the authorities. On the 8th of July the court passes sentence on the vampire hunters. So, until we find more facts about the case, we may assume that the actual happenings will probably have taken place during the first half of 1839.

The Place:

Several geographical names have been mentioned. Timok (where the bishop lived), the district Court of Porec (in Zajecar), and the village of Sarbanovac.
Zajecar is a town with over 40.000 inhabitants, which is the centre of the Timok Krajina region. It is not all that far from the North West Bulgarian border.
Here is a link to Zajecar:  http://www.zajecar.info/ 
Sarbanovac itself can be found somewhere North West of Zajecar.

Personal Comments:

This does sound like another authentic case. But of course we must check things out before we can come to that conclusion.

Possible Follow-Up:

You can start by checking the rendering of this case in Alan Dundes "The Vampire - A Casebook" and compare it to my version. After that, it's time to have a go at getting hold of John Fine's sources. Dig up a copy of that particular edition of the "Srpski Etnografski Zbornik", find the article, translate it or have it translated. And if you really want to finish things off in style, you could always go in search of the bishop's papers and the court records and such.

2009 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed 19 November 2009
Links last checked 22 September 2008

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