Sunday, September 18, 2011

Marguerite Léris Grieumard, French Serial Killer - 1875



Poisoned with arsenic & phosphorus (scraped from kitchen matches)

Jean Greiumard, Marguerite’s husband – died Jun. 27, 1875
Marguerite Greiumard, daughter – died Jun. 30, 1875
Antonin David, 11, grand-son – died Jun. 12, 1875
Jean David sr., Marguerite Greiumard’s father-in-law – died Jun. 15, 1875
Jean David, jr., 26, son-in-law – poisoned but survived

***

FULL TEXT (Article 1 of 2): A woman about sixty years of age, Marguerite Grieumard, has been convicted, at the Tarnet-Garonne Assizes, of poisoning her husband, daughter, grandson and the daughter’s father-in-law. She had always been of a quarrelsome and violent disposition, and tormented her husband, and abused her daughter when a child, more than once urging her husband to kill her. In September, 1874, Grieumard resolved to leave her and live with his daughter and son-in-law, a purpose which he persisted in, notwithstanding his wife’s threats and persuasions. In the following December, before he had carried out his plan, the son-in-law and grandson went over to St. Vincent to help Grieumard on his farm. Marguerite Grieumard cooked for them, and they all complained of severe pains. On a subsequent visit, in May, the same symptoms were repeated; and in June a few days after Marguerite Grieumard had left her daughter’s house, the whole household, five in number, were attacked with violent vomiting. One of the grandsons first died, then Jean Davik, the son-in-law’s father, and afterwards Jean Grieumard and his daughter. An autopsy showed that they were poisoned by phosphorus. The crime was traced home to the prisoner, and she was convicted and sentenced to death. Her apparent motive was to inherit the property of her victims.

[“A Wholesale Poisoner.” The Wyandott Herald (Ks.), Jan. 27, 1876, p. 1]

***

(Article 2 of 2): R. St. E, synopsis based on a French text – Marguerite Léris Grieumard, of Saint-Vincent, France, poisoned five family members, killing four of them in quick succession. She began poisoning her victims, using arsenic and phosphorous scraped from matches, in the Autumn of 1874. She was tried at Montauban assises court and sentenced to death on December 19, 1875. Sentence was commuted on January 29, 1876.

Marguerite Léris had a vile disposition and fought constantly with her neighbors. She verbally and physically violent towards her husband and other family members. She had had brutalized her daughter, Marguerite, daily since childhood, once so wounding the child so badly that she was permanently scarred. On one occasion she once pulled out hair and part of the skin of the child’s scalp. She hated her daughter so much that she once asked her husband to take the girl out to the woods and leave her to die.

She was likewise violent towards her grandson, Jean-David, who, like little Marguerite, was left scarred by her attacks.

The husband was meek and of sweet demeanor and thus tried to avoid trouble at home yet would tearfully confide his misery to his neighbors. Judging the wife’s character to be that of a murderess a neighbor once said to the husband: “I am certain that one day she will poison you.”

In September 1874 the husband decided to sell his property and to near his daughter and son-in-law. The wife did not agree with the decision  threatened to set fire to the house. She had been carrying on an extramarital affair with a married neighbor.

Shortly after the disagreement over relocating, her in-laws, living on their farm in Montauban, came to the Greiumard farm in Saint-Vincent to help plow the land Marguerite began poisoning her victims’ food.

***


FULL TEXT (translated from French): The Assize Court of Montauban has just tried a woman accused of having committed many poisonings.

Marguerite Léris, the widow of Grieumard is, says the indictment, sixty years of age and married about thirty-nine years ago. This marriage was not happy; the woman had a difficult and domineering character; she often had arguments with her husband.

A bad wife, she was known to have adulterous relations with one of her neighbors. A bad mother; she abused her children.

One day, she was seen throwing a pitchfork straight at her twelve-year-old daughter, commanding the child to bring it back to her three times, and each time throwing it at her again. She entreated her husband to kill the child, then to drown her grandson, at the age of five, who received from her a blow from a shovel that left a permanent scar.

Her husband has several times confided in his unhappy situation, saying that he needed to placate his wife she she was in a positoion to poison him. At last he decided to leave St. Vincent, where he lived with his wife, to go and live with his son-in-law at Falguieres, near Montauban.

From that moment on, the accused’s hatred toeards the David family, that of his son-in-law, knew no bounds. Jean David, son-in-law of the accused, and his father, went to St. Vincent. Marguerite Grieumard, wife of David, and his son Antonin, went there afterwards. The accused prepared the food but dipped her own portion apart from a particular soup. The whole family became ill; all felt weaknesses and bowels of guts, yet when they left Saint-Vinent, and little by little their pains ceased.

In May, Jean David and his father returned to Saint-Vincent to work on the vines. Following a dispute, the accused said to her son-in-law: “Some day, I will give you some something that will make your stomach ache.”

Indeed, the same pains as the first time were not long in reappearing. The accused always prepared her own food separately. She went to Falguieres some time later, and continued to prepare the food; symptoms of poisoning reappeared, and his grandson, Antonin David, aged 13, soon succumbed. Some time ago she told someone who was congratulating her on the kindness of her grandson: Yes, but he will not live long.

The attitude of the woman Léris was revolting following the death of her grandson. She said to her husband who was crying: “Will you soon be done spitting your lungs! When justice was transported to Falguiere, David, the grandfather, was dead; the other members of the family suffered a great deal; the husband and the line of the accused soon succumbed: Jean David was her sole surviving relative. Chemical analysis and autopsy demonstrated poisoning by lead and phosphorus. The accused has found nearly two hundred matches, the phosphorus of which had been removed. The circumstances were the same in all the members of the family, the woman Leris alone was not affected.

In summary, the widow Grieumard was accused of:

1. Attempt on the life of Antoine David, his grandson;

2  Jean Grieumard, her husband;

3. Marguerite Grieulard, her daughter, married to David;

4. Of Jean David, father-in-law of the latter;

And, in addition, using substances that can cause death;

5. Having attempted to take the life of Jean David jr., his son-in-law, with the help of the same substances; an attempt that did not result in a fact beyond the control of its perpetrator.

She was sentenced to death.

[“Poison Ivy. - Death sentence, “The Reminder (France), December 30, 1875, p. 7]

***


FULL TEXT (translated from French): Poisoning. – This affair, the most serious of the court session, and which is called upon to furnish a new chapter in the history, alas already so extensive, of judicial dramas, had attracted a large audience to the courthouse, eager to witness intense legal debates.

The age and sex of the accused, the enormity of the crime she has to defend today, the number of victims, the neighborhood of the locality that served as a theater for this dark family drama, all contributed to give this business an exceptional interest.

Thus when the doors are opened the room is invaded by the impatient crowd, who takes possession of the public enclosure with the obvious intention of not missing any of the emotions that the event promises.

At eleven o’clock the hearing is opened, and the Court President calls for selection of the jurors. During this process, the hall is nervous, agitated; noisy conversations are engaged on all sides, and if the defense and the prosecution  had been given the appreciations and comments exchanged, they would undoubtedly have been equally surprised.

As soon as the jury is constituted, the clerk reads:

~ THE CHARGE. ~

About thirty-nine years ago, Marguerite Léris contracted marriage with Jean Grieumard, and came to live in Saint-Vincent, district of Montauban, where her husband owned a small property; her difficult and mean character was not long in muddling her with all her neighbors who stopped seeing her.

The tranquility of this household was not long. Marguerite Léris’ cantankerous mood, her inflexible character and her low avarice brought numerous and lively discussions with her husband in which the latter was the object of his invectives, her threats and her violence. Her children themselves did not escape vile treatment.

While her daughter was a child, there was no dayt in which she did not mistreat her. In one circumstance she grabbed a pitch fork and threw her three times at her, and each time she ordered the poor child to bring him this instrument and threw it at him again.

One other day, furious that her daughter had let out an animal she was guarding, she seized a hoe and gave her a blow that made him a serious wound in which the heel, the skin and flesh were detached on a large expanse and part fell back to tatters. More than once she pushed cruelty to the point of throwing her child to the ground and trampling on her with her feet. Although her daughter was submissive and respectful, the mother’s aversion to this child grew so great that she persuaded her husband to lead her into the woods, and to put her to death. In another circumstance she urged him to drown her in the Lere River.

His grandson Jean David was also the victim of his violent character. One night, this child, who was then barely five years old, could not fall asleep to pray, his irritated grandmother hit him on the head with a shovel and gave him a wound that made him suffer for a long time and of which he always carried the traces. Such a unnatural mother could be a bad wife, so she had an adulterous trade with one of her neighbors who was married. These criminal relations, long continued, were not a mystery to anyone in St. Vincent, and when the outraged wife died, her illness presented all the symptoms of poisoning.

All these facts. returned to Mr. Grieumard the common life which could not be more painful; mild and weak of character. He sought for a long time to conceal the difficulties of his home; yet there came a time when, although not very communicative, he felt powerless to conceal his grief and keep silence – he was sad, and tears often moistened his eyes. Driven by grief, he confided to several people his situation.

When his neighbors complained of his wife’s wrongdoing and urged him not to submit to her dominion, he told them that he was rather unhappy at being obliged to live with her, and that, however, he was careful of her, since she would be able to poison him. “I know for certain,” he said one day, “that she has poison. “

About four years ago, one of his neighbors having seen him pass quickly on the road, advanced towards him, asked him where he was going so deliberately. Grieumard replied that, having had a very violent discussion with his wife, he was going to the house of the mayor of St. Vincent, in order to warn the magistrate in the event of his misfortune. “So you dread something from the woman,” said his interlocutor. “At these words, Grieumard rolled his eyes and left without answering: However, not finding a moment of rest at home, fearing moreover the execution of the threats of poisoning of which he was so aware of, knowing his wife’s intentions, Grieumard took, in September 1874, the resolution to sell his property in Saint Vincent and to live in Falguières, with his daughter and his son-in-law: As soon as she knew of this project, the accused employed every means to change the determination of her husband, and she even went so far as to threaten him with setting fire to his house if he went his son-in-law.

This was in vain: Grieumard persisted in his design. From that moment the hatred of the accused against the members of her family knew no bounds: the resolution was taken and was about to begin her crimes.

In the following December, Jean David and his father went to Saint Vincent to cultivate the lands of the Grieumard family, and they spent quite a long time there. Meanwhile, Marguerite Grieumard and her son Antonin David came several times to see him; it was the accused who had taken care of the household and prepared their food; but she always took care to dip her own portion of soup on a plate herself.

Soon all the members of the family felt sick, and without understanding where their harm could come from, they noticed that they all had the same kind of illness, manifesting themselves in the same symptoms and the same feelings, such as loss of appetite, general weakness, stubborn constipation and bowel pains. It seemed to them that they were squeezed in a rope. Jean Grieumard was also sick and absolutely the same.

Towards the beginning of March, John David and his father went to Montauban, to their house, and a few days later they were obliged to go to bed and were taken with violent vomiting. Antonin David and his mother, who had come to join them, were also suffering, but to a lesser degree. Preoccupied with their condition, they sent for a doctor on the 20th and 21st of March, who noted that the causes of their indisposition were the same and advised them to change their diet.

Thanks to the care which were given to them and to the stay which they made in Falguières, during the month of April, their health improved; Jean Grieumard came at that time to fix them. During the month of May, Jean David and his father went to St. Vincent again to dig up the signs, and the quarrels of the mother-in-law and the son-in-law became even more frequent and lively than in the past. In one circumstance, a discussion of cases of interest having arisen between her and Jean David, the accused seized a bottle which was on the table and threw it against a cupboard she said to him: “You reprobate, you do a lot to me, but someday I’ll give you something that will make your stomach ache.”

The deed followed the threat closely, for a few days later John David and his father were seized by the same griefs they had experienced in the previous January. The work of the vineyards being finished, David returned to Falguieres in the last days of May. The accused soon joined the family, and spent eight days with them. As in St. Vincent, she was in charge of the household, and she continued to pour her soup into a separate plate.

Soon the quarrels with her son-in-law began again. In one of these arguments which took place on the first of June, she said to him: “I assure you that more than ever you will not come back to sing there,” indicating by that, no doubt, that he would not return to Saint Vincent. This threat was going to be realized.

A few days later, indeed, all the members of the family, except the accused, who had left for Saint-Vincent, fell ill. On June 8, the 13-year-old Antonin David, at school, was seized by violent vomiting and forced to bed. A doctor was called three days later and found that Jean David, Jean Grieumard, Marguerite Grieumard, Antonin David and David Grand-Pere were sick; these last two especially were in a disturbing state; Jean David was plunged into a state of drowsiness such that he could not speak; it was by gestures that he complained of headache and entrails very lively. As for the unfortunate child, he uttered plaintive cries, for the light of day was unbearable to him; he demanded the most complete darkness and beat his head on his pillow lest the rays of light should strike his eyes.

Shocked by the painful situation of this family and the facts they had just seen, the doctor would take turns without being able to give an accurate diagnosis of the status of the sicknesses, full of anxiety about the fate of David senior and his grand-son. On the following day, on learning of the success of the medication he had ordered, he returned to Fulgnieres and recognized that he was in the presence of poisoning by lead preparations, yet believing that it was accidental. He was quick to tell the family and the many people in the house.

The young Antonin David had succumbed in the arms of his mother. As soon as she heard of the death of her grandson, the accused went to Falguieres; this unfortunate event was no surprise to her, she had foreseen it well. Conversing with a person who had praised her grandson a few days earlier, she replied: “That’s right, but he will not live long.”

The attitude of Marguerite Leris, in this house in mourning, soon showed how little she was interested in the other members of the family, in spite of their state of illness. While her husband was writhing in excruciating pains and moaning, she shouted at him and added, “Will you ever just quit breathing? ... “

In another circumstance, she approached David the senior, who was in an extreme state, and whose lips were parched with fever, seized the wet cloth which used to comfort him, and thrust it into her mouth, almost suffocating him, in spite of being watched.

Obviously, she wanted them dead; she had heralded the fact – as when, on June 10 she said to a witness who reported it: “They are so egotistical, that greed will kill them one after the other and I will be the heiress of all.” However, having been informed of the premature end of young Autonin David and the comments surrounding him, he went to Falguiéres on June 15; Jean David, grandfather, had just breathed his last. The physician, who immediately examined the other three patients still alive, found that they exhibited all the symptoms of poisoning by the lead [“plomb,” a term used generically for mineral poison].

Despite the care given to them, only one, Jean David, could be saved. Jean Grieumard died on June 27 and Marguerite Grieumard on the 30th of the same month

Doubt was no longer possible; all members of the David family had been poisoned and when investigated it became apparent that the poisoning was not accidental, but was the work of the accused. The investigation has fully demonstrated it; the facts which it collected and which are exposed above show to what degree of wickedness and perversity Marguerite Leris had arrived, and they bring to light her cupidity and hatred of her family, which are the motives for the crimes which she committed.

On the other hand, the lesions observed by the autopsy on the corpses of the victims, the results provided by the chinese analysis of their viscera, establish that they were poisoned by a preparation of lead, which acted at the same time as phosphorus to determine death.

These observations, which are so decisive, still draw a new force in the discovery made in the house of the accused, at St. Vincent, of a large quantity of matches, the flammable portion, made of oxide of lead and phosphorus, was removed using a sharp instrument.

Arrested on the crimes that are attributed to her, Margeurite Léris has denied everything. She tried to make people believe that the poisoning was accidental and claimed that she herself had been injured; but it was established that of the whole family she was the only one who had not been ill.

So all the accusations are combined in the charge to demonstrate her guilt.

During the reading of this document, where all the charges grouped with a remarkable art combine to highlight the guilt of the woman Marguerite Léris, wife of Grieumard, it retains the mask of neutrality that it must keep until the end of this hearing. Her countenance, strongly accentuated, and on which one seeks in vain the trace of a movement of sensibility, conceals so solemnly all the emotions which are agitated in her soul. It was the same during the interrogation which the Court President subjected her to, and to which he replied only by the most energetic denials.

Dr. Filhol, dean of chemical analysis of the organs of victims, testified that he found traces of lead and phosphorus which necessarily caused death.

He obtained, by distillation, sufficient quantities to determine poisoning.

The examination of the matches found in the accused shows that some were scraped, the others were cut. A certain quantity of these matches had been stripped of phosphorus by soaking them in water.

The cpmplete and absolute conviction of Dr. Filhol is that the deaths took place by poisoning, and that this poisoning has been obtained by means of phosphorus.

Jean David, a well-to-do 36-year-old farmer and grain merchant, lives in Lestang, Falguiéres district, Montauban commune, and is the accused’s son-in-law.

The entry of this witness produces a rather strong impression; on the other hand, his attitude is of a calm which is due to indifference, and is void of all emotion and it is as if he were completely alien to this affair when he is deposed on the facts although they touch him so closely.

It is difficult for us to follow the witness in explanations whose length renders it diffuse, and we will confine ourselves to summarizing his testimony by the few precise questions that the Court President has asked him.

Q. - Have you not gone to work several times with your father in the vineyard of your wife’s parents, and have you not been sick each time?

A. - I think that I was, as well as my father, victim of poisoning attempts when I cohabited with my mother-in-law.

D. - What symptoms did you experience?

A. - I suffered terribly from my belly and stomach; it seemed to me that my intestines were being squeezed by a rope.

It was May 25th, if I’m not in error, that we went to St. Vincent for the last time to my mother-in-law’s house. During this time we again experienced the same discomfort; finally, this discomfort taking more and more consistency, we took to bed.

My father and my only son, eleven years old, succumbed, and I myself survived it with great difficulty.

Q. - Who prepared the food when you were in St. Vincent?
R. - My mother-in-law.
Q. - Your mother-in-law did not have broth other than the one she served you?
B. - Yes, but as usual, we did not pay attention.
Q. - Has your mother-in-law ever made threats to you?
D. - Yes, on two or more different occasions since the month of January; she told me she would give us something that would make our bellies gurgle.

I know that she was very nasty and that she made life very hard for her daughter and her husband. The latter told me one day that she had propoposed to get rid of his daughter, who is my wife, so that no one could marry her.

About six years ago she violently struck her barely five-year-old son of a shovel, so that her hair did not grow back. At the request of the public prosecutor, the testimony established that the witness possesed about 20,000 francs; in answer to a question from the defense, he declared that her mother-in-law has lent him 700 francs without asking him to pay it back.

The accused vigorously denies the testimony of her son-in-law.

The other witnesses heard the facts in the indictment.

~ Audienes of December 19th. ~

At the beginning of the hearing, Dr. Darnis and Dr. Filhol come to affirm that the death of the four victims is the result of poisoning by lead and phosphorus. This double deposition, made in the clearest and most precise terms, is overwhelming against the accused. It impressed the jury and the audience:

The list of witnesses being exhausted, the word was given to Bazin, public prosecutor, to deliver his indictment.

The exordium and the peroration of the eloquent magistrate produced a deep impression. The words were, in fact, two beautiful pages animated by the breath of great and generous inspirations.

Yes, it was indeed this indignant, persuasive eloquence that brought illumination with conviction in the mind and in the heart.

Under this vibrating and imaginative speech, we see the defence defeated. Parading before the audience, all is reconstituted, and we see the accused, that woman who is accused of having been an adulterous wife, an unnatural, ruthless mother, seen pursuing with her hatred and brutality the wretches whom she must sacrifice to her sordid avarice and implacable rancor.

The emotion was at its height when the public prosecutor, evoking in a magnificent oratory movement, the memory of the little child whose youth should have been protected; that of the two old men, whose white hair equally ought to have sheltered from criminal attacks, that of the girl, who ought to have fond favor in the presence of her mother, exclaiming: “She has been merciless to her family, be pitiless for her.”

The task of the defense was most perilous: considering the accumulation of evidence brought to the hearing, it was difficult to contradict it. In view of the enormity of the crimes it was not possible to count on the indulgence of the jury. M. de Selves has put in the service of this cause all the resources of his rhetorical talent; he pleaded with warmth, with artfulness; he argued with remarkable skill; but one felt that conviction was neither in his heart nor on his lips, and he was bringing into this circumstance a despondency against implacable rancor.

The emotion was at its height when the public prosecutor, evoking in a magnificent oratory movement, the memory of the little child that his youth was to protect; the one of the two young men, whose white hair was to shelter from such criminal attempts, that of the girl, who was to find favor with her mother, exclaimed, “She has been merciless to her family, be pitiless” for her.

After the remarkable summary of the Court President, who directed these long difficult debates with a tact, finesse and firmness to which we are happy to pay tribute, the jury returned from the deliberation room from which he returned after forty-five minutes, bringing an affirmative verdict on all charges – and silent on extenuating circumstances.

As a result, the Court sentenced the woman Grieumard to the death penalty, and ordered that the execution take place in one of the public squares of Montauban.

The accused heard the sentence without revealing any trace of emotion or weakness. She  kept the indifferent attitude she maintained during all the arguments.

The crowd, deeply impressed, reaacted noisily as soon as the terrible verdict was made. (Courrier.)

[“Court Assizes Tarn-And-Garonne - Presidency of Mr. Duvéday, counselor at the Court of Appeal of Toulouse. Assessors: Mrs. Simonet, president; Séméziés, judge. - Session of December 17th. - Death sentence,“ Journal De Toulouse (France), December 21, 1875, p. 1]

***

FULL TEXT (translated from French): Poisoning. – This affair, the most serious of the court session, and which is called upon to furnish a new chapter in the history, alas already so extensive, of judicial dramas, had attracted a large audience to the courthouse, eager to witness intense legal debates.

The age and sex of the accused, the enormity of the crime she has to defend today, the number of victims, the neighborhood of the locality that served as a theater for this dark family drama, all contributed to give this business an exceptional interest.

Thus when the doors are opened the room is invaded by the impatient crowd, who takes possession of the public enclosure with the obvious intention of not missing any of the emotions that the event promises.

At eleven o’clock the hearing is opened, and the Court President calls for selection of the jurors. During this process, the hall is nervous, agitated; noisy conversations are engaged on all sides, and if the defense and the prosecution  had been given the appreciations and comments exchanged, they would undoubtedly have been equally surprised.

As soon as the jury is constituted, the clerk reads:

~ THE CHARGE. ~

About thirty-nine years ago, Marguerite Léris contracted marriage with Jean Grieumard, and came to live in Saint-Vincent, district of Montauban, where her husband owned a small property; her difficult and mean character was not long in muddling her with all her neighbors who stopped seeing her.

The tranquility of this household was not long. Marguerite Léris’ cantankerous mood, her inflexible character and her low avarice brought numerous and lively discussions with her husband in which the latter was the object of his invectives, her threats and her violence. Her children themselves did not escape vile treatment.

While her daughter was a child, there was no dayt in which she did not mistreat her. In one circumstance she grabbed a pitch fork and threw her three times at her, and each time she ordered the poor child to bring him this instrument and threw it at him again.

One other day, furious that her daughter had let out an animal she was guarding, she seized a hoe and gave her a blow that made him a serious wound in which the heel, the skin and flesh were detached on a large expanse and part fell back to tatters. More than once she pushed cruelty to the point of throwing her child to the ground and trampling on her with her feet. Although her daughter was submissive and respectful, the mother’s aversion to this child grew so great that she persuaded her husband to lead her into the woods, and to put her to death. In another circumstance she urged him to drown her in the Lere River.

His grandson Jean David was also the victim of his violent character. One night, this child, who was then barely five years old, could not fall asleep to pray, his irritated grandmother hit him on the head with a shovel and gave him a wound that made him suffer for a long time and of which he always carried the traces. Such a unnatural mother could be a bad wife, so she had an adulterous trade with one of her neighbors who was married. These criminal relations, long continued, were not a mystery to anyone in St. Vincent, and when the outraged wife died, her illness presented all the symptoms of poisoning.

All these facts. returned to Mr. Grieumard the common life which could not be more painful; mild and weak of character. He sought for a long time to conceal the difficulties of his home; yet there came a time when, although not very communicative, he felt powerless to conceal his grief and keep silence – he was sad, and tears often moistened his eyes. Driven by grief, he confided to several people his situation.

When his neighbors complained of his wife’s wrongdoing and urged him not to submit to her dominion, he told them that he was rather unhappy at being obliged to live with her, and that, however, he was careful of her, since she would be able to poison him. “I know for certain,” he said one day, “that she has poison. “

About four years ago, one of his neighbors having seen him pass quickly on the road, advanced towards him, asked him where he was going so deliberately. Grieumard replied that, having had a very violent discussion with his wife, he was going to the house of the mayor of St. Vincent, in order to warn the magistrate in the event of his misfortune. “So you dread something from the woman,” said his interlocutor. “At these words, Grieumard rolled his eyes and left without answering: However, not finding a moment of rest at home, fearing moreover the execution of the threats of poisoning of which he was so aware of, knowing his wife’s intentions, Grieumard took, in September 1874, the resolution to sell his property in Saint Vincent and to live in Falguières, with his daughter and his son-in-law: As soon as she knew of this project, the accused employed every means to change the determination of her husband, and she even went so far as to threaten him with setting fire to his house if he went his son-in-law.

This was in vain: Grieumard persisted in his design. From that moment the hatred of the accused against the members of her family knew no bounds: the resolution was taken and was about to begin her crimes.

In the following December, Jean David and his father went to Saint Vincent to cultivate the lands of the Grieumard family, and they spent quite a long time there. Meanwhile, Marguerite Grieumard and her son Antonin David came several times to see him; it was the accused who had taken care of the household and prepared their food; but she always took care to dip her own portion of soup on a plate herself.

Soon all the members of the family felt sick, and without understanding where their harm could come from, they noticed that they all had the same kind of illness, manifesting themselves in the same symptoms and the same feelings, such as loss of appetite, general weakness, stubborn constipation and bowel pains. It seemed to them that they were squeezed in a rope. Jean Grieumard was also sick and absolutely the same.

Towards the beginning of March, John David and his father went to Montauban, to their house, and a few days later they were obliged to go to bed and were taken with violent vomiting. Antonin David and his mother, who had come to join them, were also suffering, but to a lesser degree. Preoccupied with their condition, they sent for a doctor on the 20th and 21st of March, who noted that the causes of their indisposition were the same and advised them to change their diet.

Thanks to the care which were given to them and to the stay which they made in Falguières, during the month of April, their health improved; Jean Grieumard came at that time to fix them. During the month of May, Jean David and his father went to St. Vincent again to dig up the signs, and the quarrels of the mother-in-law and the son-in-law became even more frequent and lively than in the past. In one circumstance, a discussion of cases of interest having arisen between her and Jean David, the accused seized a bottle which was on the table and threw it against a cupboard she said to him: “You reprobate, you do a lot to me, but someday I’ll give you something that will make your stomach ache.”

The deed followed the threat closely, for a few days later John David and his father were seized by the same griefs they had experienced in the previous January. The work of the vineyards being finished, David returned to Falguieres in the last days of May. The accused soon joined the family, and spent eight days with them. As in St. Vincent, she was in charge of the household, and she continued to pour her soup into a separate plate.

Soon the quarrels with her son-in-law began again. In one of these arguments which took place on the first of June, she said to him: “I assure you that more than ever you will not come back to sing there,” indicating by that, no doubt, that he would not return to Saint Vincent. This threat was going to be realized.

A few days later, indeed, all the members of the family, except the accused, who had left for Saint-Vincent, fell ill. On June 8, the 13-year-old Antonin David, at school, was seized by violent vomiting and forced to bed. A doctor was called three days later and found that Jean David, Jean Grieumard, Marguerite Grieumard, Antonin David and David Grand-Pere were sick; these last two especially were in a disturbing state; Jean David was plunged into a state of drowsiness such that he could not speak; it was by gestures that he complained of headache and entrails very lively. As for the unfortunate child, he uttered plaintive cries, for the light of day was unbearable to him; he demanded the most complete darkness and beat his head on his pillow lest the rays of light should strike his eyes.

Shocked by the painful situation of this family and the facts they had just seen, the doctor would take turns without being able to give an accurate diagnosis of the status of the sicknesses, full of anxiety about the fate of David senior and his grand-son. On the following day, on learning of the success of the medication he had ordered, he returned to Fulgnieres and recognized that he was in the presence of poisoning by lead preparations, yet believing that it was accidental. He was quick to tell the family and the many people in the house.

The young Antonin David had succumbed in the arms of his mother. As soon as she heard of the death of her grandson, the accused went to Falguieres; this unfortunate event was no surprise to her, she had foreseen it well. Conversing with a person who had praised her grandson a few days earlier, she replied: “That’s right, but he will not live long.”

The attitude of Marguerite Leris, in this house in mourning, soon showed how little she was interested in the other members of the family, in spite of their state of illness. While her husband was writhing in excruciating pains and moaning, she shouted at him and added, “Will you ever just quit breathing? ... “

In another circumstance, she approached David the senior, who was in an extreme state, and whose lips were parched with fever, seized the wet cloth which used to comfort him, and thrust it into her mouth, almost suffocating him, in spite of being watched.

Obviously, she wanted them dead; she had heralded the fact – as when, on June 10 she said to a witness who reported it: “They are so egotistical, that greed will kill them one after the other and I will be the heiress of all.” However, having been informed of the premature end of young Autonin David and the comments surrounding him, he went to Falguiéres on June 15; Jean David, grandfather, had just breathed his last. The physician, who immediately examined the other three patients still alive, found that they exhibited all the symptoms of poisoning by the lead [“plomb,” a term used generically for mineral poison].

Despite the care given to them, only one, Jean David, could be saved. Jean Grieumard died on June 27 and Marguerite Grieumard on the 30th of the same month

Doubt was no longer possible; all members of the David family had been poisoned and when investigated it became apparent that the poisoning was not accidental, but was the work of the accused. The investigation has fully demonstrated it; the facts which it collected and which are exposed above show to what degree of wickedness and perversity Marguerite Leris had arrived, and they bring to light her cupidity and hatred of her family, which are the motives for the crimes which she committed.

On the other hand, the lesions observed by the autopsy on the corpses of the victims, the results provided by the chinese analysis of their viscera, establish that they were poisoned by a preparation of lead, which acted at the same time as phosphorus to determine death.

These observations, which are so decisive, still draw a new force in the discovery made in the house of the accused, at St. Vincent, of a large quantity of matches, the flammable portion, made of oxide of lead and phosphorus, was removed using a sharp instrument.

Arrested on the crimes that are attributed to her, Margeurite Léris has denied everything. She tried to make people believe that the poisoning was accidental and claimed that she herself had been injured; but it was established that of the whole family she was the only one who had not been ill.

So all the accusations are combined in the charge to demonstrate her guilt.

During the reading of this document, where all the charges grouped with a remarkable art combine to highlight the guilt of the woman Marguerite Léris, wife of Grieumard, it retains the mask of neutrality that it must keep until the end of this hearing. Her countenance, strongly accentuated, and on which one seeks in vain the trace of a movement of sensibility, conceals so solemnly all the emotions which are agitated in her soul. It was the same during the interrogation which the Court President subjected her to, and to which he replied only by the most energetic denials.

Dr. Filhol, dean of chemical analysis of the organs of victims, testified that he found traces of lead and phosphorus which necessarily caused death.

He obtained, by distillation, sufficient quantities to determine poisoning.

The examination of the matches found in the accused shows that some were scraped, the others were cut. A certain quantity of these matches had been stripped of phosphorus by soaking them in water.

The cpmplete and absolute conviction of Dr. Filhol is that the deaths took place by poisoning, and that this poisoning has been obtained by means of phosphorus.

Jean David, a well-to-do 36-year-old farmer and grain merchant, lives in Lestang, Falguiéres district, Montauban commune, and is the accused’s son-in-law.

The entry of this witness produces a rather strong impression; on the other hand, his attitude is of a calm which is due to indifference, and is void of all emotion and it is as if he were completely alien to this affair when he is deposed on the facts although they touch him so closely.

It is difficult for us to follow the witness in explanations whose length renders it diffuse, and we will confine ourselves to summarizing his testimony by the few precise questions that the Court President has asked him.

Q. - Have you not gone to work several times with your father in the vineyard of your wife’s parents, and have you not been sick each time?

A. - I think that I was, as well as my father, victim of poisoning attempts when I cohabited with my mother-in-law.

D. - What symptoms did you experience?

A. - I suffered terribly from my belly and stomach; it seemed to me that my intestines were being squeezed by a rope.

It was May 25th, if I’m not in error, that we went to St. Vincent for the last time to my mother-in-law’s house. During this time we again experienced the same discomfort; finally, this discomfort taking more and more consistency, we took to bed.

My father and my only son, eleven years old, succumbed, and I myself survived it with great difficulty.

Q. - Who prepared the food when you were in St. Vincent?
R. - My mother-in-law.
Q. - Your mother-in-law did not have broth other than the one she served you?
B. - Yes, but as usual, we did not pay attention.
Q. - Has your mother-in-law ever made threats to you?
D. - Yes, on two or more different occasions since the month of January; she told me she would give us something that would make our bellies gurgle.

I know that she was very nasty and that she made life very hard for her daughter and her husband. The latter told me one day that she had propoposed to get rid of his daughter, who is my wife, so that no one could marry her.

About six years ago she violently struck her barely five-year-old son of a shovel, so that her hair did not grow back. At the request of the public prosecutor, the testimony established that the witness possesed about 20,000 francs; in answer to a question from the defense, he declared that her mother-in-law has lent him 700 francs without asking him to pay it back.

The accused vigorously denies the testimony of her son-in-law.

The other witnesses heard the facts in the indictment.

~ Audienes of December 19th. ~

At the beginning of the hearing, Dr. Darnis and Dr. Filhol come to affirm that the death of the four victims is the result of poisoning by lead and phosphorus. This double deposition, made in the clearest and most precise terms, is overwhelming against the accused. It impressed the jury and the audience:

The list of witnesses being exhausted, the word was given to Bazin, public prosecutor, to deliver his indictment.

The exordium and the peroration of the eloquent magistrate produced a deep impression. The words were, in fact, two beautiful pages animated by the breath of great and generous inspirations.

Yes, it was indeed this indignant, persuasive eloquence that brought illumination with conviction in the mind and in the heart.

Under this vibrating and imaginative speech, we see the defence defeated. Parading before the audience, all is reconstituted, and we see the accused, that woman who is accused of having been an adulterous wife, an unnatural, ruthless mother, seen pursuing with her hatred and brutality the wretches whom she must sacrifice to her sordid avarice and implacable rancor.

The emotion was at its height when the public prosecutor, evoking in a magnificent oratory movement, the memory of the little child whose youth should have been protected; that of the two old men, whose white hair equally ought to have sheltered from criminal attacks, that of the girl, who ought to have fond favor in the presence of her mother, exclaiming: “She has been merciless to her family, be pitiless for her.”

The task of the defense was most perilous: considering the accumulation of evidence brought to the hearing, it was difficult to contradict it. In view of the enormity of the crimes it was not possible to count on the indulgence of the jury. M. de Selves has put in the service of this cause all the resources of his rhetorical talent; he pleaded with warmth, with artfulness; he argued with remarkable skill; but one felt that conviction was neither in his heart nor on his lips, and he was bringing into this circumstance a despondency against implacable rancor.

The emotion was at its height when the public prosecutor, evoking in a magnificent oratory movement, the memory of the little child that his youth was to protect; the one of the two young men, whose white hair was to shelter from such criminal attempts, that of the girl, who was to find favor with her mother, exclaimed, “She has been merciless to her family, be pitiless” for her.

After the remarkable summary of the Court President, who directed these long difficult debates with a tact, finesse and firmness to which we are happy to pay tribute, the jury returned from the deliberation room from which he returned after forty-five minutes, bringing an affirmative verdict on all charges – and silent on extenuating circumstances.

As a result, the Court sentenced the woman Grieumard to the death penalty, and ordered that the execution take place in one of the public squares of Montauban.

The accused heard the sentence without revealing any trace of emotion or weakness. She  kept the indifferent attitude she maintained during all the arguments.

The crowd, deeply impressed, reacted noisily as soon as the terrible verdict was made. (Courrier.)

[“Court Assizes Tarn-And-Garonne - Presidency of Mr. Duvéday, counselor at the Court of Appeal of Toulouse. Assessors: Mrs. Simonet, president; Séméziés, judge. - Session of December 17th. - Death sentence,“ Journal De Toulouse (France), December 21, 1875, p. 1]

***


FULL TEXT: La cour d’assises de Montauban vient de juger une femme accusée d’avoir commis de nombreux empoisonnements.

Marguerite Léris, veuve Grieumard, dit l’acte d’accusation, âgée de soixante ans, s’est mariée il y a environ trente-neuf ans. Ce mariage ne fut pas heureux; la femme avait un caractère difficile et dominateur; elle avait souvent des discussions avec son mari.

Mauvaise épouse, elle entretenait, de notoriété publique, des relations adultères avec un de ses voisins. Mauvaise mére; elle maltraitait ses enfants.

Un jour, on l’a vue lancer une fourche centre sa fille, âgée de douze ans, se la faire rapporter jusque trois fois par l’enfant, et chaque fois la lui lancer de nouveau. Elle a engagé son mari à la tuer, puis à la noyer: son petit-fils, à l’âge de cinq ans, reçut d’elle sur la tète un coup de pelle qui a toujours laissé des traces.

Son mari a plusieurs fois fait des confidences sur sa situation malheureuse, déclarant qu’il ménageait sa femme qui était capable de l’empoisonner. Enfin il se décida à quitter Saint-Vincent, qu’il habitait avec sa femme, pour aller demeurer avec son gendre à Falguières, près Montauban.

Dès ce moment, la haine de l’accussée vis à vis de la famille David, celle de son gendre, ne connut plus de bornes. Jean David, gendre de l’accusée, et son père, allèrent à Saint-Vincent. Marguerite Grieumard, épouse David, et son fils Antonin, s’y rendirent ensuite. L’accusée préparait les aliments et se trempait à part une soupe particulière. Toute la famille fut souffrante, tous éprouverent des faiblesses et des douieurs d’entrailles; ils quittèrent Saint-Vinent, et peu à peu leurs douleurs cessèrent.

Au mois de mai, Jean David et son père retournèrent à Saint-Vincent pour les travaux des vignes: à la suite d’une dispute, l’accusée dit à son gendre: «Quelque jour, je te donnerai quelque chose qui te fera mal au ventre.»

En effet, les mêmes douleurs que la première fois ne tardèrent pas à reparaitre. L’accusée sa préparait toujours des aliments a part. Elle alla quelque temps après à Falguières, et continua à préparer les aliments; des symptômes d’empoisonnement reparurent, et son petit-fils, Antonin David, âge de 13 ans, ne tarda pas à succomber. Quelque temps auparavant, elle répordut a quelqu’un qui la félicitait de la gentillesse de son petit fils: Oui, mais il ne vivra pas longtemps.

L’attitude de la femme Léris fut révoltante aprè la mort de son petit-fils. Elle disait à son mari qui pleurait : Auras-tu bientôt fini de cracher tes poumons! Quand la justice s’est transportée à Falguière, David, le grand-père, était mort; les autres membres de la famille souffraient beaucoup; le mari et la file de l’accusée ne tardèrent pas à succomber: son gengre Jean David a seul survécu. L’analyse chimique et l’autopsie ont démontré l’empoisonnement par le plomb et le phosphore. On a trouvé chez l’accusée près de deux cents allumettes dont le phosphore avait été enlevé. Les accidents ont été les mêmes chez tous les membres de la famille, la femme Léris seule n’a pas été atteinte.

En résumé, la veuve Grieumard était accusée:

1° D’avoir attenté à la vie d’Antoine David, son petit-fils;

2° De Jean Grieumard, son mari;

3° De Marguerite Grieulard, sa fille, épouse David;

4° De Jean David, beau-père de cette dernière;

Et ce, à l’aide de substances pouvant occasionner la mort;

5° D’avoir esssayé d’attenter à la vie de Jean David fils, son gendre, à l’aide des mêmes substances; tentative qui n’a pas eu de résultat par un fait indépendant de la volonté de son auteur.

Elle a été condamnée à la peine de mort.

[“Empoisonneuse. - Condamnation A Mort,” Le Rappel (France), 30 Décembre 1875, p. 7]

***

FULL TEXT: Empoisonement. – Cette affaire, la plus grave de la session, et qui est appelée à fournir un nouveau chapitre à 1’histoire, hélas déjà si longue, des drames judiciaires, avait attiré au palais un public nombreux, avide d’assister à cas émouvants débats.

L’âge et le sexe de l’accusée, l’énormité dn crime dont elle a à se défendre aujourd’hui, le nombre des victimes, le voisinage de la localité qui a servi de théàtre à ce sombre drame de famille, tout contribuait à donner à celte affaire un intérét exceptionnel.

Aussi dès l’ouverture des porte, la salle est envahie par la foule impatiente, qui prend possession de l’enceinte réservée au public avec l’intention bien évidente de ne perdre aucune des émotions qul’lui sont promises.

A onze heures l’audience est ouverte et M. le président fait procéder au tirage au sort de MM. les jurés. Pendant celte opération, la salle est nerveuse, agitée; des conversations bruyantes s’engagent de toute part, et s’il avait été donné à la défense et à l’accusation de recueille, les appréciations et les commentaires échangés, elles en auraientété sans nul doute également surprises.

Dès que jury est constitué, le greffier donne lecture de:

~ L’ACTE D’ACCUSATION. ~

Il y a trente-neuf ans environ, Marguerite Léris contracta mariage avec Jean Grieumard, et vint habiter Saint-Vincent, arrondissement de Montauban, où son mari possédait une petite proprieté; son caractère difficile et méchan ne tarda pas à la brouiller avec tous ses voisins qui cessèrent de la voir.

La tranquillité de ce ménage ne fut pas de longue durée; l’humeur acariåtre de Marguerite Léris, son caractère absolu et sa basse avarice amenérent, entre elle et son mari, des discussions vives et nombreuses dans lesquelles ce dernier fut l’objet de ses invectives, de ses menaces et de ses violences. Ses enfants eux-mêmes ne fureur pas à l’abride ses mauvais traitements.

Lorsque sa fille était enfant, il ne se passait pas de jour qu’elle ne la maltraiàt. Dans une circonstance elle s’avait d’une fourche en bois et la lancait-à trois reprises contre elle et chaque fois elle ordonnait à la pauvre enfant de lui apporter cet instrument et le lui lançait de nouveau.

Un antre jour, furieuse de ce que sa fille avait laissé échapper un animal qu’elle gardait, elle saisit un sarcloir enfer et lui en portait un coup qui lui faisait au talon uns blessure grave, la peau et les chairs avaient été détachées sur une grande étendue et une partie retombait eu lambeaux.  Plus d’une fois même elle poussa la cruauté jusqu’à renverser son enfant par terre et à la fouler au pieds en lui montant sur ventre. Quoique sa fille fût soumise et respectueuse, son aversion contre cette enfant devint si grande, qu’elle engagea son mari à la conduire dans le bois et à loi donner la mort. Dans une autre circonstance elle le poussait à la noyer dans la Lère.

Son petit-fils Jean David était également la victime de son charactère violent. Un soir cet enfaut, qui était alors à peine âgé de cinq ans, ne pouvait pas, tombant de sommeil, faire sa prière, sa grand’mère irritée lui asséna sur la tête un coup de pelle et lui fit une blessure qui le fit souffrir longtemps et dont il porta toujours les traces. Une mère aussi dénaturée ue pouvait être qu’une mauvaise épouse: aussi entretenait-elle un commerce adultère avec un de ses voisins qui était lui-même marié. Ces relations criminelles: longtemps continuées, n’étaient un mystère pour personne à Saint-Vincent, et lorsque l’épouse outragée mourut, sa maladie présenta tous les symptômes d’un empoisonnement.

Tous ces faits rendaient. rendaient au sieur Grieumard la vie commune on ne peut plus pénible; doux et et faible de caractère, il chercha lougtemps à cacher les difficultés de son intérieur; mais pourtant il vint un moment où, bien que peu communicatif, il se sentit impuissant à dissimuler sa douleur et garder le silence; on la voyait triste et des larmes mouillaient souvent ses yeux. Poussé par le chagrin, il fit, à plusieurs personnes, la confidence de sa situation.

Quand ses voisins se plagnaient des mauvais procédés de sa femme à fleur égard at l’engageait à ne pas subir sa domination, il leur disait qu’il était assez malheureux d’être obligé de vivre avec elle, et que cependant il la ménageait, parue qu’elle serait capable de l’empoisonner.”Je sais certain, disait il, un jour, qu’elle a de poison.”

Il y a quatre ans environ, uu de ses voisins l’ayant vu passer rapidement sur la route, s’avança vers lui demanda où il allait d’un pas si délibéré; Grieumard lui répondit qu’ayant eu une discussion très-violente avec sa femme, il se rendait chez le maire de Saint-Vincent, afin de prévenir ce magistrat dans le cas oû il lui arriverait malheur. “Tu redoutes donc quelque chose de la part de la femme lui dit son interlocteur.” A ces paroles, Grieumard leva les yeux au ciel et partit sans répondre: Cependant, ne trouvant plus un moment de repos chez lui, redoutant d’ailleurs l’exécution des menaces d’impoissonement dont il était si savent l’objet de la part de sa femme, Grieumard prit, au mois de septembre 1874, la résolution de vendre sa propriété de Saint Vincent et d’aller vivre à Falguières, auprès de sa fille et de son gendre: Dès qu’elle connut ce projet, l’accusé employa tous les moyens pour changer la la détermination de son mari, et elle alla même justqu’à le menacer à mettre le feu à sa maison s’il allait son gendre.

Ce fut en vain: Grieumard persista dans son dessein. Dès ce moment la haine de l’accusée contre les membres de sa famille ne connut plus de bornes: la résolution ètait prise et allait bientôt commencer ses crimes.

Dans le mois de décembre suivant, en effet Jean David et son père se rendirent à Saint Vincent pour y cultiver les terres de la famille Grieumard et ils y firent un assez long séjour. Pendant ce temps, Marguerite Grieumard et son fils Antonin David vinrent plusieurs fois le voir; c’est l’accusée qui s’était chargée des soins du ménage et préparait leurs aliments: mais elle avait le soin de tremper dans une assiette à par la soupe qu’elle destinait à elle-méme.

Bientôt tous les membres de la fammille se sentirent malades, et sans comprendre d’où pouvait venir leur mal, ils remarquèrent qu’il éprouvaient tous le méme genre de soffrance, se manifestant par les même symptômes et les mêmes accidents, tel que l’inappétence, une faiblesse générale bientôt après une constipation opiniâtre et douleurs d’entrailles. Il leur semblait qu’as les serrait avec une corde; Jean Grieumard était aussi malade et absolument de la même manière.

Vers le commencement de mois de mars Jean David, et son père se rendirent à Montauban, dans leur maison, et quelques jours aprés ils furent obligés de garder le lit, ils furent pris de vomissements. Antonin David et sa mère, qui étaient venus les rejoindre, souffraient également, mais à un dégré moindre. Préoccupés de leur état, ils firent appeler le 20 et le 21 mars un médecin, qui constata que tes causes de leur indisposition étaient les mémes et leur conseillà de changer leur alimentation.

Grâce aux soins qui leur furent donnés et au séjour qu’ils firent à Falguières, pendant le mois d’avril, leur santé s’améliora; Jean Grieumard vint à cette époque en fixer auprès d’eux. Dans le courant du mois de mai, Jean David et son père se rendirent de nouveau à Saint-Vincent pour y bêcher les signes, et les querelles de la belle-mère et du gendre devinrent encore plus fréquentes et plus vives que par le passé. Dans une circonstance, une discussion sur des affaires d’intérêt s’étant élevée entre elle et Jean David, l’accusée s’empara d’une bouteille qui était sur la table et la lança contre une armoire elle lui dit: “Mauvais sujet, tu m’en fait beaucoup, mais un jour ou l’autre je te donnerai quelque chose qui te fera mal au ventre.”

L’exécution suivit de près la menace, car quelques ,jours après, Jean David et son père furent saisis par les mêmes douleur, qu’ils avaient éprouvées au mois de janvier précédent. Les travaux des vignes étant terminés, les David rentrèrent à Falguières, c’était dans les dernier jours du mois de mai; l’accusée ne tarda par à les y joindre et passa huit jours avec eux: Comme à Saint-Vincent, c’est elle qui s’occupait des soins du ménage et elle continuait à verser sa soupe dans une assiette séparée.

Bientôt le, querelles avec son gendre recommencérent: dans une de ces discussions qui eut lieu le premier juin, elle lui dit: “Je t’assure que plus que jamais ta ne reviendras chanter là-bas;” indiquant par là, sans doute, qu’il ne reviendrait plus à Saint Vincent. Cette menace allait se réaliser.

Quelques jours après, en effet, tous les membres de la famille, sauf l’accusée, qui était repartie pour Saint-Vincent, tombèrent malades. Le 8 juin, le jeune Antonin David, agé de 13 ans, étant à l’école, fut saisi, par de violents vomissements et forcé de se mettre au lit. Un médecin fut appelé trois jours après et constata que Jean David, Jean Grieumard, Marguerite Grieumard, Antonin David et David grand-pére étaient malades; ces deux derniers surtout étaient dan un état inquiétant; Jean David était plongé dans un état de somnolence tel qu’il ne pouvait parler, c’est par gestes qu’il accusait des doleurs de tête et d’entrailles très-vives. Quant au malheureaux enfant, il poussait des cris plaintifs, la lumière du jour lui était insupportable; il réclamait l’obscurité la plus complète et rouait sa tête sur son oreiller de peur que les rayons lumineux ne vinssent frapper ses yeux.

Emu de la situation douloureuse de cette famille et des faits qu’il venait de constater, le médecin se relira sans avoir pu porter uu diagnostic précis nue l’état des mal des, mais plein d’inquiétude sur le sort de David père et de son petit-fils. Dès le lendemain, apprenant l’succès de la médication qu’il avait ordonnée, il revint à Fulgnières et reconnut qu’il se trouvait eu face d’une empoisonnement par des préparation plombiques et, le croyant d’ailleurs accidentel, il s’empressa de le dire aux membres de la famille et aux nombreuses personnes qui se trouvaient dans la maison.

Le jeune Antonin David venait de succomber dans les bras de sa mère. Dès qu’elle apprit la mort de sa petit-fils, l’accusée se rendit à Falguières; ce malheureux événement n’était pas fait pour la surprendre, elle l’avait bien prévu. S’entretenant, en effet, peu de jours avant avec une personne qui lui faisait l’éloge de sen petit-fils, elle lui avait répondu: “Cst vrai, mais il ne vivra pas longtemps.”

L’attitude de Marguerite Léris, dans celte maison en deuil, montra bientôt combien peu elle s’intéressait au autres membres de la famille, malgré leur état de maladie. Pendant que son mari se tordait dans d’atroces douleurs et poussait des gémissements, elle l’invectiva et ajouta: “Ta ne finiras donc jamais de rendre les poumons? …”

Dans une autre circonstance, s’approchant de David le grand-père, qui était à toute extrémité et dont on humectait les lèvres desséchées par la fièvre, elle saisit le linge mouillé qui revoit à cet usage et le lui enfonça dans la bouche, su risque de l’étouffer, malgré les observations qu’on lui adressa.

Evidemment, elle désirait leur mort; elle l’avait fait présager, lorsque le 10 juin elle disait à en témoin qui la rapporté: “Ils sont si égoistes, que l’avarice les fera mourir les uns après les autres et je serai l’héritière de tous.” Cependant la justice ayant été informés de la fin prématurée du jeune Autonin David et des commentaires qui l’entouraient, se transporta à Falguiéres le 15 juin; Jean David, grand-père, venait de rendre le dernier soupir. L’homme de l’art, qui fat immédiatement commis pour examiner les trois autres malades encore vivants, constata qu’ils présentaient tous les symptômes de l’empoissonment par le plomb.

Malgré les soins qui leur furent donnés, Jean David seul put être sauvé, Jean Grieumard mourut le 27 juin et Marguerite Grieumard le 30 du même mois.

Le doute n’était plus possible; tous les membrus de la famille David avaient été empoisonnés et des investigation il devint manifeste que cet empoisonnement n’était pas accidentel, mais était l’ouvre de l’accusée. L’instruction l’a pleinement démontré; les faits qu’elle recueillis et qui sont ci-dessus exposés montrent à quel degré de méchancet é et de perversité, Marguerite Léris était arrivée, et ils mettent en lumière sa cupidité et su haine colle sa famille, qui sont les mobiles des crimes qu’elle commis.

D’un autre côté, les lésions constatées par l’autopsie sur les cadavres des victimes, les résultats fournis par l’analyse chinique de leurs viscères, établissent qu’elles ontsuccombé à un empoisonnement par une préparation de plomb, que a agi en même temps que du phosphore pour déterminer la mort.

Ces constatations, d’ailleurs si décisives, puisent encore une force nouvelle dans la découverte faite dans la demeure, de l’accusée, à Saint-Vincent, d’une grande quantité d’allumettes dont la partie inflammable, fait d’oxide de plomb et de phosphore, a été enlevée à l’aide d’un instrument tranchant.

Interpellée sur les crimes qui lui sont reproehés, Margeurite Léris les a niés. Elle a essayé de faire poisonnement accidentel et a prétendu qu’elle-méme avait été atteinte; mais ils été établi que de toute la famille elle était la seoir qui n’eût pas été malade.

Ainsi tout l’accuse et se réunit pour démontrer sa culpabilité.

Pendant la lecture de ce document, où toutes les charges groupées avec un art remarquable concourreent à mettre en relief la culpabilité de la femme Marguerite Léris, épouse Grieumard, celle-ci conserve le masque d’impassibilité qu’elle doit garder jusqu’à la fin de cette audience. Sa physionomie, fortement accentuée et sur laquelle on chercherait vainement la trace d’un mouvement de sensibilité, cache soigueument toutes les emolotions qui s’agitent dans son âme. Il en est de méme durant l’interrogatoire que lui faisait subir M. le président et auquel elle ne répond que par les dénégations les plus énergiques.

M. le docteur Filhol, doyen de la faie l’analyse chemique des organes des victimes, dépose qu’il a trouvé des traces de plomb et de phosphore qui out dû nécessaierment produire la mort.

Il en a obtenu, par la distillation, des quantités sufûsantes pour déterminer l’empoisonnement.

L’examen des allumettes trouvées chez l’accusée démontre que les unes ont été raclées, les autres ont été coupées. Une certaine quantité de ces allumettes avaient été dépouillées du phospore eu les faisant détremper dans l’eau.

La conviction entière, absolue, du docteur Filhol est que la mort a en lieu par l’empoisonnement et que cet empoisonnement a été obtenu à l’aide du phosphore.

Jean David, fils aisé, âgé de 36 ans, cultivateur et marchand de grains, demeurent à Lestang, quartier de Falguiéres, commune de Montauban, gendre de l’inculpée.

L’entrée de ce témoin produit une assez vive impression; par contre, son attitude à lui est d’un calme qui tient à l’indifférence, et c’est d’une vois exempte de toute émotion et comme s’il était complètement étranger à cette affaire qu’il dépose sur les faits qui le touchant cependant de si prés.

Il nous est difficile de suivre le témoin dans des explications que leur longueur rend diffuses, et nous nous nous bornerons à résumer sa déposition par les quelques questions si précises que lui a posées M. le président.

D. – N’êtes-vous pas allé travailler plusieurs fois avec votre père à la vigne des parents de votre femme, et n’avez-vous pas été malade chaque fois?

R. – Je crois que j’ai été, ainsi que mou père, victime de tentatives d’empoisonnement tourtes les fois que j’ai cohabité avec ma belle-mère.

D. – Quels symptômes éprouviez-vous?

R. – Je souffrais horriblement du ventre et de l’estomac; il me semblait qu’on me serrait les intestins avec une corde.

C’est le 25 mai, si je ne me trompe, que nous sommes allés pour la derniêre fois à Saint-Vincent chez ma belle-mère. Durant ce temps nous avons encore éprouvé le même malaise; enfin ce malaise prenant de plus en plus de la consistance, nous avons gardé le lit.

Mon père et mon fils unique, âgé de onze ans, ont succombé, et je ne me suis sauvé il n’à grand’peine.

D. – Qui préparait les alimente quand vous êtiez à Saint-Vincent?
R. – Ma belle-mère.
D. – Votre belle-mère s`a pas du bouillon autre que celui qu’elle vous servait?
B. – Oui, mais comme c’était son habitude, nous n’y faisions pas attention.
D. – Votre belle-mère vous a-t-elle jamais fait des menaces?
D. – Oui, à deux ou trais reprises différentes depuis le mois de janvier; elle m’a
dit qu’elle nous donnerait quelque chose qui noas ferait gargouiller le ventre.

Je sais qu’elle était très-méchante et qu’elle a rendu la vie bien dure à sa fille et à son mari; ce dernier m’a dit un jour qu’elle lui avait proposé de se débarrasser de s`a fille, qui est ma femme, afin que personne ne pût la rechercher en mariage.

Il y a environ six ans elle frappa ou fils à peine âgée de cinq ans d’un coup de pelle à feu, ai violent, que es cheveux n’ont plus repoussé. Sur la demande de M. le procureur de la république, le témoin constate qu’il possède environ 20,000 francs; en réponse à une question de la défense, déclare que sa belle-mére lui a prêté 700 francs sans lui demander de reça.

L’accusée dément énergiquement le témoignage de son gendre.

Les autres témoins entendus conterment les faits relevés dans l’acte d’accusation.

~ Audienes du 19 decemére. ~

Au début de l’audience, MM. les docteurs Darnis et Filhol viennent affirmer que la mort des quatre victimes est le résultat de l’empoisonnement par le plomb et le phosphore. Celle double déposition, faite dans les termes les plus nets et les plus précis, eau écrasante pour l’accusée; elle impressionne vivement le jury et l’auditoire:

La liste des témoins étant épuisée, la parole est donnée à Bazin, procureur de la république, pour son réquisitoire.

L’exorde et la péroraison de l’éloquent magistrat produisent use vive lit profonde impression; ce sont, en effet, deux belles pages animées par le souflle des grandes et généreuses inspirations.

Oui, c’est bien là cette éloquente indignée, persuasive, qni fait entrer la lumière avec la conviction dans l’esprit et dans le coeur.

Sous cette parole vibrante et imagée on voit sortir de leur cadre, pour défiler devant l’auditoire, tous les se reconstituent, et on voit l’accusée, celte femme à qni on reproche d’avoir été épouse adultére, mère dénaturée, geand’mère impitoyable, on la voit poursuivre de sa haine et de sa brutalité les malheureux qu’elle doit sacrifier à son avarice sordide et à ses rancunes implacables.

L’émotion est à son comble lorsque M. le procureur de la République, évoquant dans un magnifique mouvement oratoire, le souvenir du petit enfant que sa jeunesse devait protéger; celui des deux vieillards, que leur cheveux blancs devaient mettre à l’abri d’aussi criminelles tentatives, celui de la fille, qui devait trouver grâce devant sa mère, s’est ecrié: Elle a été impitoyable pour sa famille, soyez sans pitié pour elle.

La tàche de la défense était des plus périlleuses: devant l’accumulation des preuves apportées à l’audience, il était difficile de nier, devant l’énormité des crimes il n’était pas possible de compter sur l’indulgence du jury. Me. de Selves a mis au service de cette cause toutes les ressources de son sympathique talent; il a plaidé avec chaleur, avec entrainement; il a argumenté avec une habileté remarquable; mais on sentait que la conviction n’était ni dans son coeur, ni sur se lèvres, et il accomplissait dans cette circonstance un desordide et à ses rancunes implacables.

L’émotion est à son comble lorsque M. le procureur de la République, évoquant dans un magnifique mouvement oratoire, le souvenir du petit enfant que sa jeunesse devait protéger; celui des deux veillards, que leur cheveux blancs devaient mettre à l’abri d’aussi criminelles tentatives, celui de la fille, qui devait trouver grâce devant sa mère, s’est écrié: Elle a été impitoyable pour sa famille, soyez sans pitié por elle.

Après le remarquable résumé du président, qui a dirigé ces longs difficiles débats avec un tact, une finesse et une fermeté auxquelles nous sommes heureux da rendre hommage, le jury s’est retiré dans la salle des délibérations d’où il est revenu après quarante-cinq minutes, apportant un verdict affirmatif sur toutes les questions et muet sur les circonstances atténuantes.

En conséquence, la Cour condamné la femme Grieumard à la peine de mort, et ordonné que l’exécution aurait lieu sur une des places publiques de Montauban.

L’accusée a entendu su condamnation sans laisser paraître la moindre trace d’émotion ou de faiblesse. Elle a conservé l’attitude indifférente qu’elle a gardée pendant tous les débats.

La foule, vivement impressionée, s’est écoulée bruyamment commencant le terrible verdict qui venait d’être rendu. (Courrier.)

[“Cour D’assises De Tarn-Et-Garonne - Présidence de M. Duvéday, conseiller à la Cour d’Appel de Toulouse. Assesseurs: MM. Simonet, président; Séméziés, juge. - Séance du 17 décembre. - Condamnation à mort,” Journal De Toulouse (France), 21 Décembre 1875, p. 1]

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For more cases, see: Women Who Like to Torture

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http://unknownmisandry.blogspot.com/2014/07/sadism-female-serial-killers.html

 
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[969-6/27/19]
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