Sunday, February 9, 2020

Jamila Belkacem, Would-Be Double Black Widow – France, 2003

In 1999 Jamila Belkacem murdered a lover, Jacques Brunet (50), and in 2002 she manipulated her daughter, by producing false evidence, into poisoning her own father, René Maillard, who survived the murder attempt.

One remarkable detail of this case is the fact that Jamila, while incarcerated for on a murder conviction, obtained antidepressants of the same type, doxepine, she had used in the murder for which she was imprisoned, to be provided her daughter, Donia Maillard, in the commission of a second murder. Psychiatric experts described Jamila Belkacem as an "octopus mother" with "excessive maternal love" and "pathological attachment" to daughter Donia, whom they described as fragile and gullible.

A case chronology and a long Wikipedia article on the complicated case follows.


Jun. 22, 1960 – Jamila Belkacem born, Douar Beni Oulil, Morocco.
1983 – Jamila Belkacem immigrates to France.
1984 – marries René Maillard.
1995 – Meets Lover, Jacques Brunet (50), veterinarian in Bourg-en-Bresse.
Feb. 15, 1999 – Jacques and Jamila rent a car for a trip to England. The Feb. 16, 1999 Jacques is sick, does not feel well, he is dozing. On Feb. 19, 1999 Jacques is better, he eats with Jamila and René. Jamila spends part of the night with Jacques in his apartment. From that moment on, he no longer answered telephone calls and no one saw him alive.
Feb. 19, 1999 – forensic scientists establish that Jacques Brunet died between the 19th and on February 26, 1999.
Feb. 20, 1999 – Jamila goes on a four-day trip to England with her children.
Feb. 26, 1999 – when she returned from a trip to England with her children, Jamila Belkacem called the firefighters to give the alert.
Oct. 7, 1999 – Jamila Belkacem is arrested.
Apr. 1, 2002 – first trial took place before the Assize Court of Ain in Bourg-en-Bresse at.
Apr. 6, 2002 – Jamila Belkacem is sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. She files an appeal.
Feb. 25, 2003 – Donia Maillard cooked a chocolate flan, her father's favorite dessert; he did not eat it all. While he slept, Donia places an open camping gas stove next to him, supplied by Sihame Maziz, a friend of Jamila Belkacem.
Feb. 26, 2003 – the appeal trial begins.
May 13, 2003 – eldest daughter Donia Maillard is placed in police custody at the gendarmerie of Bourg-en-Bresse.
Nov. 2006 – Jamila Belkacem is sentenced to life imprisonment, with 22 years of security. Sihame Maziz is sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment. Donia Maillard was sentenced to 5 years in prison, 3 of which were suspended.


Wikipedia (translated from French, revised) – Jamila Belkacem, a manipulative mythomaniac nurse's aide, poisoned her lover Jacques Brunet 50 years old, veterinarian in Bourg-en-Bresse in February 1999. In February 2003, in Villefranche-sur-Saône, she tried to poison her husband René Maillard by proxy, having manipulated Maillard’s eldest daughter to put toxins in his favorite dessert.

Jamila Belkacem was born on June 22, 1960 at Douar Beni Oulil in Morocco , in a modest peasant family. Her Muslim father was polygamous, she is one of the nine children of the second wife.  In 1983 she immigrated to France. She met René Maillard by classified ad, marrying him in 1984. She obtained French nationality and with Maillard gave birth to four children. She had a number of s brief extra-marital affairs.

~ Jacques Brunet ~

Jacques Brunet is a veterinarian in Bourg-en-Bresse, recognized and appreciated professionally. He has lived in isolation since being separated from his wife, who lives with his children in the south of France . He lives in a small apartment, roughly furnished, in the city center. He is very religious. His social life is very reduced.

~ The facts and the investigation / Separation of Jamila and René ~

In 1994, the city court of Villefranche-sur-Saône pronounces a legal separation without divorce. According to Jamila, because her husband is homosexual. According to René, so that she can benefit from larger allowances.

~ Meeting with Brunet and first manipulation ~

Jacques Brunet saved around 500,000 francs to realize his dream: buy a sailboat and go around the world on the oceans. Preferring to live this dream as a couple, he placed an ad to find a woman willing to travel with him.

In 1995, Jamila Belkacem responds to Jacques Brunet's announcement and they meet. She introduces herself to him under the name of Myriam Maillard and tells him that she is a nurse, holder of high scientific degrees, daughter of a great Moroccan architect. She quickly seduces him; he becomes very in love with her. He takes pity on her when she tells him about certain painful passages in her life: she is the illegitimate daughter of her father's cleaning lady; she had a very serious illness which justifies that she must be absent from time to time for her treatment in the hospital.

Jamila Belkacem presents Jacques Brunet to René Maillard, telling René that Jacques is a work colleague at the hospital, suffering from a brain tumor, who has only a few weeks to live, rejected by his family. And she tells Jacques that René is her half-brother Georges, that he is a little disturbed, and that he sometimes calls himself René, or takes himself for her husband. She tells him that her four children are nephews and nieces, who call her "mom" because they have been entrusted to her for years and that they therefore consider her as their mother.

~ Relationship with Brunet ~

Jacques Brunet becomes dumbfounded, blinded, he can no longer detach himself from Jamila. On his laptop, he writes dozens of poems for him and calls it his "sun of Eden."  He is constantly on sick leave, apparently for depression. He is tired and aggressive. He is as if hypnotized by Jamila, he refuses nothing to him. She has more and more control over him. He sinks into deep lethargy, becomes apathetic and nonchalant. He spends most of his time sleeping, has memory loss, no longer remembers what he did in the previous days, isolates himself more and more, hardly sees anyone. He is almost unreachable.

Jacques Brunet visits used boats to buy. Jamila Belkacem accompanies her, the sellers observe that she is not motivated by the purchase of a boat, nor interested in the plan to travel on board. On Feb. 6, 1999, they visit a catamaran of Philippe Ebrard. Jacques Brunet wants to buy it. He plans to complete the purchase within fifteen days.

~ Brunet's disappearance and death ~

On Feb. 15, 1999, Jacques and Jamila rent a car for a trip to England. On Feb. 16, 1999, Jacques is sick, does not feel well, he is dozing. On Feb. 19, 1999, Jacques is better, he eats with Jamila and René. Jamila spends part of the night with Jacques in his apartment. From that moment on, he no longer answered telephone calls and no one saw him alive. On Feb. 20, 1999, Jamila goes on a four-day trip to England with her children.

On Feb. 26, 1999, around 5.30 p.m., Jamila Belkacem called the fire brigade to give the alert. She says her name is Myriam Maillard and that her partner Jacques Brunet no longer answers her phone calls. She seems very worried. The firefighters join her outside his house. They smell a burning smell through the front door of Jacques Brunet's apartment. Firefighters open the door with a crowbar. The interior of the apartment is filled with gloomy soot, the outside light barely penetrates it. Lighting with their torches, they discover in the bedroom the charred body of Jacques Brunet on his mattress. Jamila Belkacem tells them that Jacques used to take sleeping pills at night to fall asleep by reading with a candle to avoid having to get up to turn off the light. Several boxes of medicines are under the mattress. They deduce that the death of Jacques Brunet is accidental. He must have fallen asleep while reading, a candle must have tipped over and set the mattress and the apartment on fire. The doctor on duty issues a death certificate and a burial permit.

~ Doubts about Brunet's death ~

While the disappearance of Jacques Brunet seems like a closed case, several events relaunch the investigation. On the one hand, the Brunet family is skeptical about this thesis, because according to them he was very meticulous on safety. In addition, she finds that her bank accounts are empty. On the other hand, Yves Debertolis, insurance expert in charge of assessing the damage in Jacques' apartment, expresses doubts before even inspecting it. According to him, it is impossible that a body is thus calcined without using an accelerant, probably gasoline. When he visits the apartment, he sees at least four points of fire starting at temperatures over 1000 ° Centigrade. Analyzes reveal traces of petrol on the baseboards of the apartment and on the remains of the mattress. The expert report concludes that it is a sign of arson, and therefore that Jacques' death is either suicide or murder.

Faced with this revelation, the Brunet family filed a complaint. The family lawyer seized the public prosecutor. The investigating judge orders that Jacques' body be exhumed and autopsied. Forensic scientists first confirm that it is indeed the body of Jacques Brunet. Then, on the circumstances of the death, they note that there is no trace of soot in the mouth or in the windpipe of Jacques. So, at the start of the fire, Jacques was no longer breathing and was probably already dead. Then, toxicological analyzes reveal that Jacques has taken medication. They highlight significant amounts of benzodiazepines that he had been absorbing daily for four and a half months, and also doxepine (an antidepressant) in toxic doses in his blood. Finally, forensic scientists establish that Jacques Brunet died between the 19th and on Feb. 26, 1999.

~ The anonymous letter ~
On Mar. 22, 1999, Jacques Brunet's wife receives an anonymous letter from a woman. She presents herself as Jacques' secret mistress. This person writes that he learned of the death of Jacques on Feb. 27, 1999. She asks the recipient not to suspect Myriam Maillard. This person claims that Myriam Maillard is a good person, who has nothing to do with the disappearance of Jacques' savings. This letter has the opposite effect, because all suspicion is focused on Myriam Maillard. In addition, Jamila Belkacem repeatedly telephoned Yves Debertolis to try, in vain, to convince him that the fire was indeed caused by a candle which ignited the blankets and the mattress, and that it was therefore accidental.

~ Investigation leads to the culprit ~

The gendarmes go to Myriam Maillard's address, at 90 rue Paul Bert in Villefranche-sur-Saône , to question him and they discover her true identity: Jamila Belkacem. Myriam is the first name of her youngest daughter. They note that more than 500,000 francs (around 75,000 euros) have been transferred from Jacques Brunet's accounts to the benefit of Jamila Belkacem. Checks from Jacques Brunet are signed by her. The money had disappeared from Jamila Belkacem's accounts.

In the cellar of Jamila Belkacem and René Maillard, the gendarmes find Jacques Brunet's laptop. Computer experts find erased documents in the memory of this computer: false prescriptions for the drugs that were used to poison Jacques Brunet in the names of Zina Rifi or René Mayer. In unregistered printed documents, computer experts find the letter sent to Jacques Brunet's wife, printed at 2:16 p.m. on Feb. 25, 1999. The person who wrote this letter therefore knew that the corpse of Jacques Brunet would be discovered on Feb. 26, 1999, and therefore knew, on Feb. 25, that Jacques Brunet was dead. That day, at this hour, Jamila Belkacem was alone in the apartment, René Maillard worked at the factory, his four children were in class. Only she was able to use the computer to write and print this letter.

~ Arrest and imprisonment ~

On Oct. 7, 1999, Jamila Belkacem is arrested and placed in police custody at the gendarmerie of Bourg-en-Bresse. She denies the facts of which she is accused and swears that she is innocent, that she loved Jacques and that they had planned to marry. She claims that the money transfers were made on the initiative of Jacques Brunet, to avoid that he had to pay part of this money to his future ex-wife from whom he had planned to divorce. She accuses René Maillard. She was indicted for murder and imprisoned at the Montluc prison in Lyon. She begins a hunger strike. René Maillard is excluded.

~ Trials and convictions ~
~ Trial for the death of Jacques Brunet ~
~ First instance ~

On April 1, 2002, the trial of Jamila Belkacem began at the Assize Court of Ain in Bourg-en-Bresse. Luc Robert is the lawyer for the family of Jacques Brunet. Jamila Belkacem's defense is provided by lawyers André Buffard, Yanina Castelli and Jean Dubuis.

She claims that it was not she who erased the false prescriptions that were stored in the memory of Jacques Brunet's computer, and that it was during his pre-trial detention that she learned to use a computer. But several people testify that she had a computer at home, that she was using, and that she explained to them how to use a computer when they acquired one.

René Maillard states that he saw her make false prescriptions, that she was used to them and that a pharmacist had reported her to the police. She says she experienced trauma during her childhood: death of her mother, rape, kidnapping.

Georges, who was her lover 18 years ago, testified that when he announced that he had discovered that she was stealing large sums from him with checks that she had stolen from her, she tried to scald him with oil in a pan overnight. Psychiatric experts Michel Colombani and Jean Canterino declare that she is mythomaniac, manipulative, self-centered and narcissistic. The April 6, 2002, Jamila Belkacem is sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment. She is appealing this decision.

~ False Evidence Presented to the Court  ~

On Feb. 26, 2003, the appeal trial of Jamila Belkacem begins at the Lyon Assize Court.
But, dramatically, just after the opening, a fax was brought to the president of the assize court. It is a letter written on the computer in which René Maillard acknowledges that he killed Jacques Brunet on Feb. 23, 1999 and that he prefers to commit suicide. The same letter was sent to the public prosecutor and to Jamila Belkacem's former lawyer: Jean Dubuis. The trial is adjourned.

~ New investigation into the attempted poisoning on René Maillard ~

René Maillard fell into a coma at the hospital in Gleizé . He came out of a coma two days later and told the investigators that he never wanted to commit suicide and that he did not write the letter. It is not her signature at the bottom of the letter, she was imitated. He files a complaint against X .

~ Donia is arrested ~

The May 13, 2003, his eldest daughter Donia Maillard is placed in police custody at the gendarmerie of Bourg-en-Bresse.

She admits that it was she who typed the letters on her father's computer, from drafts sent to her by her mother, during visits to the visiting room in the remand center, in the company of a friend of her mother, Sihame Maziz.

Jamila helped financially the parents of Sihame Maziz, Moroccan of modest origin. She is in conflict with her mother and admires Jamila. Sihame and Donia brought the letters to the visiting room, Jamila signed them by copying the signature of René Maillard from his daughter's notebook. This idea was inspired by a book from the prison library, describing the Robert Boulin affair.

Jamila obtained antidepressants, the same as those used to poison Jacques, from the prison doctor. She pounded them and transmitted them to Sihame and Donia in the visiting room, seven times, with instructions to poison René Maillard by incorporating them into his food. If her other children are present at the visit, Jamila speaks in Arabic when she raises this subject, so that they do not understand.

Sihame harassed Donia to carry out her mother's orders. Donia made two failed attempts, the doses were too low. On her mother's instructions, on Feb. 25, 2003, she cooked the a chocolate flan: his father's favorite dessert. Fortunately for him, he did not eat it all. When her father slept in bed, she placed an open camping gas stove next to him, supplied by Sihame.

Donia Maillard is indicted for attempted murder and imprisoned in the Talaudière prison in the Loire.

~~ New trials ~~

~ Brunet trial ~

In Dec. 2003, the additional information is over, the appeal trial of Jamila Belkacem for the murder of Jacques Brunet resumes. She acknowledges having sponsored the assassination attempt against René Maillard. In Dec. 2003, Jamila Belkacem is sentenced to 30 years' imprisonment.

~ Maillard trial ~

On Jan. 30, 2006, the trial of Jamila Belkacem, Sihame Maziz and Donia Maillard begins at the assize court of l’Ain of the Rhône, because Donia was 17 years old at the time of the facts. Jacques Frémion is the lawyer for René Maillard. Jamila Belkacem's defense is provided by lawyers Laurent Gaudon, Gilles Aubert and Gilbert Collard. The defense of Donia is provided by the lawyer Frédéric Mortimore. The defense of Sihame is provided by the lawyer Alain Jakubowicz.

Psychiatric experts describe Jamila Belkacem as an "octopus mother" with "excessive maternal love" and "pathological attachment" to Donia, whom they describe as fragile and gullible.

General counsel Véronique Escolano requires a life sentence against Jamila Belkacem, thirteen to fifteen years for Sihame Maziz, and eight to ten years for Donia.

On Feb. 4, 2006, Jamila Belkacem is sentenced to life imprisonment, with a 22-year security period and the deprivation of her civil rights for five years. Donia Maillard was sentenced to five years 'imprisonment, including four years' imprisonment, with probation over three years and an obligation to care. Sihame Maziz was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment and the deprivation of his civil rights for five years. Jamila Belkacem and Sihame Maziz appeal their sentences. The prosecution also appeals.

On. Nov. 13, 2006, the appeal trial of Jamila Belkacem, Donia Maillard and Sihame Maziz begins at the Assize Court of the miners of the Loire in Saint-Etienne.

~ Final Verdicts ~

In Nov. 2006, Jamila Belkacem is sentenced to life imprisonment, with 22 years of security. Sihame Maziz is sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment. Donia Maillard was sentenced to 5 years in prison, 3 of which were suspended.

~ TV documentaries ~

·         « Jamila Belkacem, l'empoisonneuse » le 25 août 2005, 3 décembre 2006 et 16 septembre 2008 dans Faites entrer l'accusé présenté par Christophe Hondelatte sur France 2.
·         « L'empoisonneuse de Bourg-en-Bresse » le 17 février 2008 dans Secrets d'actualité sur M6, puis le 7 octobre 2009 et 1er décembre 2010 dans Enquêtes criminelles : le magazine des faits divers sur W9.
·         « Jamila Belkacem: une empoisonneuse en série » (premier reportage) dans « Spéciale empoisonnement » le 14 juin, 12 juillet, 4 octobre et 25 novembre 2012 dans Présumé Innocent présenté par Jean-Marc Morandini sur D8.
·         « Ménage à trois amour, rêve et poison » le 1er, 16 et 24 février, 24 août et 14 septembre 2013 dans Suspect n° 1 sur TMC.
·         « Affaire Belkacem : un ménage à trois mortel » (premier reportage) le 14, 21 et 29 juin, 15 juillet, 22 et 29 novembre et 7 décembre 2014, 20 , 27 juin 2015, 27 février, 12 et 20 mars 2016 dans Chroniques criminelles sur NT1.
·         « Un irrésistible héritage » (deuxième reportage) dans « Veuves noires » le 9 mai 2019 dans Héritages sur NRJ 12.



For links to other cases of woman who murdered 2 or more husbands (or paramours), see Black Widow Serial Killers.


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