Meet Saeed Hanaei

John Norman Collins

He operated in the East part of Mashhad, Iran. The killings, referred to as the spider killings, happened between July 2000 and July 2001. 

One day he decided to get rid of the ‘vermin’ in Mashhad’s streets. That vermin were, wether or not drug addicted, prostitutes. He had more than one excuse. The first was that a taxi driver mistakenly saw his wife as a prostitute. Saeed decided to take it out on real ones. Another was that he saw women in that work field as morally corrupt non-humans. He regarded animals of a higher standard and could feel sorry for them.

He wasn’t the only problem. A number of people in his area felt he should’ve been able to continue ‘his work’. Saw him as a great man, who didn’t do anything wrong. That included his wife and his son. Saeed just was someone who cleaned the streets. Saeed came from a very religious family, who apparently had strong conservative views on what women can and can’t do. His mother and one of his brothers had the same views as him. Therefore, it’s no wonder where he ‘got it from’. One of his other brothers expressed Saeed had done wrong by killing those women and taking the law into his own hands. Saeed on the other hand was proud. Those prostitutes were figuratively stomping on the corpses of martyrs of the war between Iran and Irak in the ’80’s. Those non-humans deserved to feel the wrath of his revenge. Like so many other Iranians, Saeed also served in that war. 

He got a hold of fifteen prostitutes. He killed sixteen women, but one of them wasn’t a prostitute. Little mistake?
He claimed he ‘only’ killed them, by strangulation with their own headscarf. And the one who still dared to breathe after that effort got stomped on her neck, to extract the last bit of life out of her. In hindsight, it became clear he also committed sexual acts upon them. Of course, he denied that and insisted that officials only said that to discredit him. Quite the hypocrite you are to see prostitutes as morally corrupt and ‘a waste of blood’, but yet use them for sex anyway. Apparently, he didn’t have a problem with getting sexually involved with morally corrupt ones, when he was alone with them.

‘A waste of blood’ in Islāmic Law can be viewed as a religious decree that could make a person not guilty of the crime they committed. But there are clear definitions of the persons to whom the term applies to. You can’t just walk down the street and decide a certain person is a waste of blood and then kill them. 
During Saeed’s trial, his claim on this part of the law got dismissed and he was found guilty of first degree murder.
He got sentenced to death.

Saeed voiced he didn’t care about his sentence. He didn’t bother to read the printed papers. Saeed was only interested in spreading his ideas and thoughts about what’s right and wrong in a muslim society. He would’ve liked to see his ideology discussed in universities. He probably would’ve been very proud of his son. The boy was saying in the documentary ‘Along Came A Spider’: ‘If they’re willing to kill my father and not clean up society, then me or someone else needs to act.’ Do we have his successor in the making here?

Saeed’s hanging was in 2002. On April 8, he got a noose around his neck in Mashhad’s Vakil Abad prison. They filmed his hanging. At least, you can see the aftermath where they untie his handcuffs, while he’s hanging there in his prison garments.


  • And Along Came A Spider – documentary written, produced, filmed, directed and edited by Maziar Bahari.
  • Saeed’s picture is a still from this documentary

Author of (based on) True Crime and articles based on injustices.

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Posted in Meet the Serial Killer
2 comments on “Meet Saeed Hanaei
  1. cherokeewind says:

    Hi Mirjam! I haven’t been too active on blogging this past year. Have missed and I need to get back to doing my “Twisted Thursday” posts. On the last semester of my Masters in Criminal Justice. Sometimes the apple doesn’t fall very far from the tree – looks like the son is about the same mentality as the father.

  2. Hi Cherokeewind, thanks for your reply. Went already over to your blog to respond back, to make sure you would read it. Great to hear you are in your last semester of your Masters in Criminal Justice. Good for you!
    At the time of the documentary he certainly felt it that way, but society around him didn’t exactly told him to think otherwise. I know how a certain part of the population over there can be, so it wasn’t really shocking to me to hear all those harsh opinions. To me it wás a good sign that ‘the officials’ punished Saeed for it in the matter that they did. Because prostitutes really don’t matter there much. They only see the ‘moral corruption’. They don’t think about the why. Why are these women doing this. Well, because their husband forced them because he has a drug addiction. Or because she has to feed her kids and can’t rely on someone else. If you condemn it, then condemn the cause, I would say.

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