Ahmad Suradji lived in Medan, the capital of Indonesia's North Sumatra province. He worked as a cattle-breeder and as a dukun, a class of shaman reputed to possess supernatural powers. Suradji's clientele were often women seeking his guidance on how to find good fortune or maintain their beauty. According to Suradji, his deceased father visited him in a dream in 1986 and commanded him to murder 70 women as part of a black magic ritual.
On 24 April 1997, 21-year-old Sri Kemala Dewi asked a 15-year-old rickshaw puller named Andreas to take her to "Datuk". She informed him to keep it a secret and never requested to be picked up. Three days later, Dewi's naked and decomposing body was found in a sugarcane field by a man and was later dug up by a group of people who then called the police. Andreas reported to the police and Dewi's family that he had dropped her off at Suradji's house three days earlier, and so police visited Suradji for confrontation. Although he denied any links with Dewi's killing, police found Dewi's handbag, dress and bracelet in his home. He was later arrested on 30 April 1997. During interrogation, Suradji slowly confessed to Dewi's murder but also revealed that he had killed up to 42 girls in the same fashion and an excavation process had to be carried out in the sugarcane field where Dewi's body was located. Throughout the process, 42 bodies had been found with some being so decomposed to the point where they were unidentifiable.
He told police that he had a dream in 1986 in which his father's ghost directed him to drink the saliva of 70 dead young women so that he could become a mystic healer. Suradji thought that it would take him too long to encounter 70 dead women singly and so he took up the initiative to kill. As a sorcerer, or dukun, women came to him for spiritual advice for such things like making themselves more beautiful or richer or so Suradji could cast a spell on their spouses so they'll never have an affair. He would take them into a sugarcane field and bury them up to their waist, claiming it was part of the ritual. He would then strangle them until they were dead and proceed to drink their saliva. After, he would strip the clothes from their bodies to accelerate decomposition and bury them back into the ground with their heads pointing toward his house.
His three wives, who were sisters, were also arrested for assisting in the murders and helping him hide the bodies. One of his wives, Tumini, was tried as his accomplice and was sentenced to death before it was reduced to life imprisonment. He was sentenced to death by firing squad and executed on 10 July 2008.