Her face was like a pale waxen mask framed by tresses of golden hair and her eyes had the unearthly glint of a creature not of this world.
They called her the vampire child of Firnberg and the farming folk in the remote valley of northern Austria barred their doors, protected their homes with the traditional wreaths of garlic and ivy and prayed they would not be the next to receive a fatal visit.
It sounds like a scene from a Hammer horror movie but in 1890 such films were decades in the future and the spectre of Hertha Lausecker was, to the people of Firnberg, a present and very real menace.
Still one of the most controversial of modern vampire sightings, the case of Hertha Lausecker has become celebrated in psychical research as something which rationally is impossible and yet has no shortage of witnesses prepared to swear to what they saw.
Born in 1880 to Christian Lausecker, a pig-farmer near the Austrian-Czechoslovak border, and his wife Gera, little Hertha was apparently a strange child since babyhood.
At five she was telling her parents about a “tall dark man with sharp teeth” who took her flying over the countryside at night “like a big dark bird.”