Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rachel Galtie, French Serial Killer - 1904


FULL TEXT: A sensational case occupied the Court of Auch, in the Gers, last month. Madame Galtie was on trial for the poisoning .of her husband, who was a justice of the peace, of her grandmother, and of her brother, each, of whom had been insured. The case attracted great attention.

The woman is beautiful to look upon, but she has cruel eyes and thin lips, which she keeps well closed, except when answering questions. In Court, she seemed to be absolutely indifferent to everything, and listened to the judge’s .scathing denunciation of her conduct without flinching. Her past was brought up, but she merely smiled as the judge told how, when a girl, she used to sew the ears of cats together, and stick crochet needles in the eyes of canaries. Once she seemed to flare up for a moment, when the president reminded her that her father had seen, her sitting in the lap of a young man on the day or her brother’s death. “He did not see us,” she said quickly, and repeated the words when the judge persisted in contradicting her. All that Rachael Galtie admitted was one charge, that of having stolen money and jewellery from one of her friends, Madame Larrien, whose house she tried to burn down. This extraordinary woman, Galtie, wanted money for dress, jewellery, and trips to Paris. She lived with her husband, the justice of the peace, in Saint-Clar, a quiet out-of-the-way place, but containing some other young married women, who were better off than herself. These even looked down upon her, as she was a butcher’s daughter, and the wife of a man who had barely £90 a year as a minor law official. Rachael Gaitie resolved, therefore, to get money by any means, so as to be equal with the richer women, who sneered at her. Arsenic was the stuff used by accused, according to the indictment, but she strenuously affirmed that she only bought the poison for rate. “There were no rats in the house,” said the judge.

One of the witnesses stated that accused adhered to her original affirmation, even when reminded that the post-mortem examination of the bodies of her victims established the fact that arsenic had been used. “I assure you,” she insisted, “that the stuff was for rats.” “Oh ! there were rats everywhere you went,” retorted the judge, and Madame Galtie nodded in the affirmative.

Among the principal witnesses called was a veterinary surgeon, who sold somearsenic to accused. He stated -that he at first gave the stuff to Madame Galtie herself. Three days later he was surprised to find the servant of accused coming to him for more arsenic. “He told the girl that he bad already given her mistress enough arsenic to poison all the rats in the town. The servant replied that the rats were eating up the stuff like magic. Another important witness was a chemist, who also supplied arsenic to Madame Galtie, and who, when he heard of the deaths of her husband, grandmother, and brother, had his suspicions, which he subsequently communicated to the Procurator of the Republic. Madame Larrien, the woman from whom accused admitted that she stole jewels, deposed that Madame Galtie was quite gay on the day of her brother’s death.

A doctor, who attended the brother, Gaston Dupont, said that the young man showed all the symptoms of having been poisoned. Madame Larrien likewise affirmed that Gaston Dupont suffered fearful pains before he died, and that his cries and moans were terrible to hear. His sister, accused, was at the same time attributing his illness to some whipped cream which he had taken at table. The same witness deposed as to the fire at her residence, during which her jewels and other, articles, were stolen.

Prisoner was eventually adjudged guilty, and sentenced to twenty years’ penal servitude. She took her sentence with the utmost coolness.

[“Beauty On Trial. – Triple Charge Against A Young Woman.” The star (Christchurch, New Zealand), Dec. 28, 1904, p. 2]

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