Pierre Picaud was a 19th-century shoemaker in Nîmes who may have been the basis for the character of Edmond Dantès in Alexandre Dumas, père's novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. In 1807, Picaud was engaged to marry a rich woman, but three jealous friends — Loupian, Solari, and Chaubart — falsely accused him of being a spy for England (a fourth friend, Allut, knew of their conspiracy, but did not report it). He was imprisoned in the Fenestrelle fortress for seven years, not even learning why until his second year there. During his imprisonment he ground a small passageway into a neighboring cell and befriended a wealthy Italian priest named Father Torri who was being held there. A year later, a dying Torri bequeathed to Picaud a treasure he had hidden in Milan. When Picaud was released after the fall of the Imperial government in 1814, he took possession of the treasure, returned under another name to Paris and spent 10 years plotting revenge against his former friends.
Picaud first murdered Chaubart, or had him murdered. Picaud's former fiancée had, two years after his disappearance, married his former friend Loupian, who became the subject of his most brutal revenge. Picaud tricked Loupian's daughter into marrying a criminal, whom he then had arrested. Loupian's daughter promptly died of shock. Picaud then burned down Loupian's restaurant, or arranged to have it burned down, leaving Loupian impoverished. Next, he poisoned Solari to death and either manipulated Loupian's son into stealing some gold jewelry or framed him for committing the crime. The boy was sent to jail, and Picaud stabbed Loupian to death. He was himself then abducted by Allut and killed.
Allut's deathbed confession forms the bulk of the French police records of the case. The detailed description of Picaud's experiences in prison, which could not have been known to Allut, were supposedly dictated to him by the ghost of Father Torri.
- H. Ashton-Wolfe, p.19
- H. Ashton-Wolfe, p.20-21
- H. Ashton-Wolfe, p.22
- H. Ashton-Wolfe, p.23
- H. Ashton-Wolfe, p.27
- H. Ashton-Wolfe, p.28
- H. Ashton-Wolfe p.29
- H. Ashton-Wolfe p.33
- H. Ashton-Wolfe,True Stories of Immortal Crimes (1931) E. P. Dutton & Co.