You would be hard-pressed to find an Egyptian who has not heard of Raya and Sakina, the serial killer duo that wreaked havoc on the city of Alexandria. Their crimes were shocking and disturbing.

The pair started out as humble brothel owners. Prostitution was legal in Egypt at this time, but it exposed them to a seedy world where they got a taste for crime. Two of their security guards even ended up being part of their murderous gang.

The sisters and their team of thugs, which included their husbands, used the cover of their brothels to carry out a large number of murders. All of the brothels were in a small area surrounding the local police station.

Police in the area started to receive numerous reports of missing persons, and the reports all had two things in common: They were all women, and all of them were last seen wearing a lot of gold jewelry. There was another common connection that police overlooked at first.

Another common theme for most of the disappearances was that the victims were last seen walking with either Raya, Sakina, or both. At first police did not think anything of this, because the sisters had one societal prejudice working in their favor.

Even though almost all of the missing persons cases involved reports of the sisters, police simply did not connect the dots. At that time, it was unthinkable that a woman could be capable of committing a crime.

The sisters were mentioned in so many cases that the police actually called them in for questioning. However, it was only because they thought the sisters might have some information that would help them. They still did not suspect them as the criminals.

Police discovered a dead body, mutilated and dismembered, on the side of the road. This would prove to be the beginning of the end for the sisters and their gang of killers. But they still had a ways to go.

The first body discovered by police was less than 100 feet from a home owned by the sisters. At first, police did not think anything of it but it was the beginning of a series of events that would lead to the downfall of Raya and Sakina.

In the same month, Sakina’s old landlord reported finding human remains while doing plumbing work on her old apartment. Police dug up the rest of the floor and discovered two human skeletons. Amazingly, the police still did not suspect any foul play by the sisters!

Soon after the discovery in Sakina’s old apartment, another police officer had a keen eye for detail that led to the sisters’ demise. Passing Raya’s home over several days, he noticed that it always smelled very strongly of incense. He decided to question her.

When pressed about her incense habits, Raya claimed she was trying to mask the smell of her brothel customers. The officer found this answer to be suspicious and asked to take a closer look. What he found would bust the case wide open.

While speaking to Raya, the officer noticed that some of the tiles in her home were newer than the others. The officer came back with back-up and the tiles were removed. The smell of dead bodies instantly filled the home and police eventually found three of the missing women’s remains.

Police proceeded to search all of the properties currently and formerly owned by the sisters. All told, they found the remains of 17 women. This is where the story took yet another turn. The sisters did not act alone; they had several accomplices.

As details began to surface, police realized that their accomplices included brothel employees and even the sisters’ husbands! The pair lured women to their homes, where the men helped strangle and dismember them. The murderous gang of thugs then hid the bodies.

A string of confessions followed as investigators arrested the various suspects — but one confession sealed the case. Raya’s 9-year-old daughter Badeia’a told investigators that she watched her parents strangle a woman and bury her in the floor. The sisters and their accomplices were in hot water now.

During the ensuing trial, the public was horrified to learn that women could carry out such heinous crimes. It was long assumed that women lacked the capability to be so evil and murderous, but Raya and Sakina shattered that stereotype.

The sisters and all of their accomplices were sentenced to death by hanging after months of trial, marking the first time that women were executed in modern Egypt. All six members of the gang were hung over several days following the trial.

There was one more person involved who received a harsh punishment as well. The man who simply bought the gold jewelry from the sisters received five years in prison. That put the sisters’ entire ring behind bars, though much too late. Amazingly, authorities underestimate women crooks even in modern times.