Saturday, September 17, 2011

French Child Care Provider, Jeanne Weber, Murdered 7 Children - 1908

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 4): A seventh child has died in the arms of Jeanne Weber, the “ogress,” who has thrice been tried and thrice acquitted on charges of strangling infants. Six babies, including two of her own, died while in her charge.

The woman’s amazing record is as follows:

August 1905.—Accused by her relatives of strangling her two children, one seven years old, the other a baby of three months. Acquitted.

January 1906.—Accused of murdering her three nieces, Suzanne, three years old; Georgette, eighteen months old; and Germaine, seven months old. Accused of attempting to kill her nephew Maurice, aged eleven months. Acquitted of all charges.

January 1908.—Accused of murdering Augusto Bavouzet, aged nine. Acquitted.

May 1908.—Accused of murdering Marcel Poirot aged seven.

In every case but the last great difficulty was experienced in establishing the exact cause of the victim’s death. Some of the bodies bore only faint marks on the neck, others had no injuries. Doctors disputed in each case as to the cause of death. Some maintained that the “ogress” had killed her victims by pressing heavily on their chests, while others declared that the “ fatal woman,” as she came to be called, was the most unhappy victim of coincidence.

This time, according to all reports, there is no doubt that the boy Poirot met a violent death. The tragedy occurred at Commercy, in the east of France, where Jeanne Weber, under an assumed name, arrived a few days ago in the company of a tramp. The pair had money, and took a room in the house of M. Poirot. On Thursday the man left, and Jeanne Weber, saying that she was afraid to sleep alone, begged her hosts to let their child share her room. The request was granted, but when it was renewed on Friday the child showed evident reluctance to accompany the woman. Eventually the boy’s parents persuaded him to go.

Sleeping in the next room to Jeanne Weber’s was a woman named Guirlet.

“About eleven o’clock,” Mme. Guirlet says.

“I heard strange sobs and smothered screams from the next room. I got up quickly and went to M. and Mme. Poirot and told them that something was wrong.

“We all went together to Jeanne Weber’s room and opened the door. The little boy lay dead in the bed, with his head thrown back and his eyes protruding. His tongue was bitten and had been bleeding.

“Jeanne Weber lay sound asleep, with one arm round the corpse and with bloodstains on her night attire. The screams and lamentations of M. and Mme. Poirot aroused the sleeper, who gazed at the dead boy in a sodden, stupefied manner, and when accused of killing him said she did not know what had happened.”

The police were called and searched the room. They found in the bed three bloodstained handkerchiefs twisted into knots. Bloodstains were also found an the floor, but an attempt had been made to wash these out.

One of the four doctors who have examined the body of the child declares that, in his opinion, the child died at the hands of a human vampire, of the kind described in fiction and very rarely occurring in actual life.

Jeanne Weber’s real name only became known after she had been arrested and placed in a cell. The authorities are making haste to bring on the woman’s trial as soon as possible.

[“‘The Fatal Woman.’ - Mystery Of Seven Infants’ Deaths.” From Paris Daily Mail, The Daily Mail (London, England), May 11, 1908, p. 5]

FULL TEXT (Article 2 of 4): The woman Jeanne Weber, whom some months ago acquired a sinister notoriety as "The Ogress," has been found guilty of strangling several children, but as the medical experts regard her as not responsible for her actions she will be consigned to a lunatic asylum.

Jeanne Weber has since August, 1905, been accused of murdering no fewer than seven children, and has three times been acquitted. Two of the victims were her own children, and three were her nieces.

The boy Marcel Poirot, aged seven, of whose murder she has now been convicted, was killed with great cruelty. Under an assumed name Weber lodged at his parents’ house, and saying that she was afraid to sleep alone begged that the boy might share her room. In the night strange sounds were heard, and going to the room the parents found their child dead, having evidently been strangled.

In the cases of the other children there was much difficulty in establishing the precise cause of death, and since the first trial public opinion in France has been sharply divided regarding the woman's guilt.

[“Ogress’s Fate - Murderess of Many Children Sent to a Lunatic Asylum.” Lloyd’s Weekly News (London, England), Nov. 29, 1908, p. 10]


~ Before Jeanne Weber was realeased, once again in 1907, al;lowing her to continue her serial killings. ~

EXCERPT (Article 3 of 4): A few hours before she was arrested a professional hypnotist visited her and attempted to hypnotise her. She understood his purpose, and refused to lend herself to his plan, and eventually, she ran out of the village to escape him. He has declared that Jeanne Weber has a monomania which is developed by a crisis of intoxication or of hysterics into a homicidal mania. It is for expert alienists to ray whether this is possible. For the man in the street in France all that remains is to have an opinion one way or the other – “against the ogress” or for the “victim of circumstances.”

[“Crime Or Coincidence. - Strange Case.” The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA, Australia), Jun. 22, 1907, p. 12]

~ The Death of Jeanne Weber ~

EXCERPT (Article 4 of 4): She had enjoyed her last debauch, save for dreams, and in the asylum in which she was confined, it was noticed that she would crook her fingers around invisible throats until at last they crooked around her own and she was found dead with dried foam about her lips. Unable to find further subjects, she had been reduced to performing on herself, for we may rest assured that was definitely not suicide in a paroxysm.

[Philip Lindsay, The Mainspring of Murder, 1958; reprinted in Richard Glyn Jones, The Mammoth Book of Women Who Kill, Robinson, London, 2002, p. 466]


VICTIMS (from Jay Robert Nash, Look for the Woman, 1981, Evans) – The following list includes 10 murders & 2 survivors. It is thought that the total number of murders may be as high as 20.

March 2, 1905 – Georgette, 18-months-old, child of Jeanne’s sister-in-law, strangled to death, but death called “natural causes.”

March 11, 1905 – Suzanne, 2-years-old, child of Jeanne’s sister-in-law, strangled to death, but death called “natural causes.”

March 26, 1905 – Germaine, 7-months-old; daughter of Jeanne’s brother, first attacked on Mart. 25 but survived; strangled to death on the 26th, but called a death by diphtheria.

March 30, 1905 – Marcel, 7-years-old, Jeanne’s son, strangled to death, but called a death by diphtheria.

April 5, 1905 – Maurice, 10-years-old, Jeanne’s nephew; survived the strangling when the child’s mother caught Jeanne standing over him with a crazed look on her face. Police were summoned.

April 17, 1907 – Augusto Bavouzet, strangled to death; aged 9. The first doctor suspected murder and contacted police. A second doctor gave the opinion that the death was due to “convulsions,” thus charges were dropped.

1908 – employed at Children’s Home, Orgeville, caught choking a child and fired, but police were not summoned.

May 1908 – Accused of murdering Marcel Poirot, aged 10.

Date not given – Lucie Alexandre
Date not given – Marcel Poyatos
Date not given – Jeanne’s younger daughter
Date not given – Jeanne’s younger daughter














For similar cases see: Baby-Sitter Serial Killers


For more on this topic, see Chivalry Justice Checklist & Links

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