Note: Some sources use the spelling "Burkel," others use "Buerckel."
FULL TEXT: A young woman whom the French, with all their chauvinism, would probably not like to claim as a country woman, has just been tried for poisoning at the Strasbourg Assizes. Her name is Brigitte Burckel, and she is described as a pure Alsacienne, possessing all the beauties of her race. She appeared in court dressed in the traditional costume, which has become so popular in Paris since the loss of Alsace. Brigitte seems to have been very fond of married life, but unfortunate does not appear to have met with a husband entirely suited to her tastes.
Her first venture was with an honest laborer named Hochstetter, who died before the honeymoon was over. She next married a young French soldier on his return from captivity in 1871, and he also died a few months after the wedding. She then looked out for a third husband, but failed to find him, and in order to console her second widowhood made the acquaintance of a tradesman named Schaal. But Schaal was married, and his wife was in the way. Brigitte secretly resolved to get rid of her. She went to a chemist’s and asked for some arsenic to kill her rats, but the chemist refused, however, he gave her a phosphorus paste, which he said would answer her purpose just as well, and it did – though not in the way the unsuspecting chemist intended.
She then called on Madame Schaal, with whom she had managed to get on terms of intimacy, and proposed that they should make some cakes and have a jollification to amuse the children. The offer was accepted, the cakes were made, and Brigitte managed to put some of her phosphorous paste into two of them. These were, of course, given by the beautiful Alsacienne to the wife of her lover. At first she declined to eat them, but her little boy pressing her, and telling her “how nice they were,” she gave way. The next morning Madame Schaal was found to be ill, and Brigitte volunteered to tend her.
The doctor was called in, and was at the point of curing her, when the Alsacienne procured another “remedy” in the shape of a mixture for killing flies, which she put in her victim’s medicine, and finished by killing her outright. The doctor, however, suspected the symptoms of his patient, and insisted on a post-mortem examination, which led to the discovery of the crime.
Brigitte did not attempt to screen herself, but confessed her guilt in the calmest and most candid manner. The police now thought that this was not her first achievement in the art of poisoning, and ordered her deceased husbands’ bodies to be exhumed, when traces of poison were found in both of them. The prisoner did not offer any excuse for the triple crime, and the court sentenced her to death. She received the judgment with a smile.
[“A Female Poisoner.” Brownstown Banner (In.), Mar. 25, 1875, p. 6]
M. Hochstetter, husband no. 1, expired during honeymoon
French soldier, husband no. 2, died a few months following marriage
Madame Schall, a “wife in the way,” died Mar.(?) 1875
For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.