Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hélène Jégado, French Serial Killer - 1851


FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 3): A woman named Helena Jegado has been condemned to death after a trial lasting ten days, by the Court of Assize of the Ille-et-Vilaine for seven murders, being that number selected out of forty-three occurring since 1846; seven murders by arsenic in 1850; but the evidence showed that, although only seven cases had been selected as more recent, and therefore more easy of proof, not less than forty-three persons had been poisoned by her with arsenic:—

“The victims were either her masters or mistresses, or fellow-servants, who had incurred her hatred. The prisoner appeared to have been actuated by a thirst for destruction, and to have taken pleasure in witnessing the agonies of her victims. The suddenness of the deaths in the families where she was a servant excited great sensation, but for a long time no suspicion as to the cause, for the murderess appeared to be very religions. She attended, in many instances, with apparent solicitude on the persons whom she had poisoned, and so successful was her hypocrisy that even the deaths of the mother and another relative of a physician in whose family she lived raised no suspicion of poison in his mind.”

[From “Miscellanea.” The Lyttelton Times (Canterbury, New Zealand), Jun. 5, 1852, p. 7]

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FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 3): One of the most extraordinary cases ever brought before a criminal court has just been tried by the Court of Assize of the Ille-et-Vilaine. The prisoner was a woman named Helène Jegado, who for several years past has been a servant in different families of the department. She stood at the bar charged with several thefts committed in and since the year 1846, and with seven murders by arsenic in 1850; but the evidence showed that although only seven cases had been selected as more recent, and therefore more easy of proof, not less than forty-three persons had been poisoned by her with arsenic.

The victims were either her masters or mistresses, or fellow-servants, who had incurred her hatred. The prisoner appeared to have been actuated by a thirst for destruction, and to nave taken pleasure in witnessing the agonies of her victims. The suddenness of the deaths in the families where she was a servant excited great sensation, but for a long time no suspicion as to the cause, for the murderess appeared to be very religious. She attended in many instances with apparent solicitude on the persons whom she had poisoned, and so successful was her hypocrisy that even the deaths of the mother and another relative of a physician in whose family she lived raised no suspicion of poison in his mind.

The frequency of deaths, however, in the families by whom she was successively engaged excited a suspicion among the peasantry that there was something in her nature fatal to those who were near her, and it was customary with them to say that her liver was white, it being believed in that part of France that persons who are dangerous have white livers. The cases, on which she was brought to trial were established by the evidence beyond the possibility of doubt.

The prisoner, throughout the trial, which lasted ten days, constantly declared that she was innocent, and seemed to anticipate an acquittal on account of there being no proof of her haying had arsenic in her possession. It was proved however, that in one of the families in which she was a servant some years ago there was a large quantity of arsenic, which, was not locked up, and that it had suddenly disappeared. The arsenic had, without doubt, been taken by the prisoner, and had served for the commission of the successive murders. The only defence set up for her was founded on phrenological principles. The jury having delivered a verdict without extenuating circumstance, the court condemned her to death.

[“Murders By Arsenic In France.” The Patriot (London, England), Dec. 22, 1851, p. 819]

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EXCERPT (Article 3 of 3): The career of crime of Helene Jegado, a native of Brittany, was of longer duration, extending over some eighteen years, during which period thirty victims at least may be placed to her account. “I am a wretched creature; wherever I go people die,” she exclaimed, previous to entering a convent, whose inmates soon experienced the fatal influence of her presence. From convent to convent, from family to family, she passed, leaving everywhere death in her wake, until at length, in 1851, retribution overtook her. She was accused of having poisoned a fellow-servant at an inn where she was employed, and the crime having been fully brought home, she was convicted and execrated.

[“Famous Poison Mysteries. – Women Figure In Celebrated Cases.” The Auckland, (N.Z.), Jul. 22, 1911, p. 17]

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