Henri Désiré Landru
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|Henri Désiré Landru|
Landru photographed 1909
|Born||Henri Désiré Landru
April 12, 1869
|Died||February 25, 1922
|Cause of death||Decapitation by guillotine|
|Resting place||Museum of Death|
|Other names||The Bluebeard of Gambais,
Many pseudonyms, including "Monsieur Diard" and "Dupont"
|Criminal penalty||Death (30 November 1921)|
|Conviction(s)||Assassination (11 counts) (30 November 1921)|
Span of killings
|January 1915–15 January 1919|
|12 April 1919|
Landru was born in Paris. After leaving school, he spent four years in the French Army from 1887 to 1891, and afterwards had a sexual relationship with his cousin, who bore him a daughter. He married another woman two years later and had four children. After being swindled by his employer, he turned to fraud himself, often swindling elderly widows; he was sentenced to two years' imprisonment in 1900, the first of several such convictions. By 1914, Landru was estranged from his wife and working as a second-hand furniture dealer.
Landru began to run lonely hearts advertisements in Paris newspapers (for example, "Widower with two children, aged 43, with comfortable income, serious and moving in good society, desires to meet widow with a view to matrimony"). Because of World War I there were plenty of widows upon which he could prey. He would seduce women, gain access to their assets, then kill them and burn their dismembered bodies. Between 1914 and 1919 he killed ten women and the teenage son of one of them. The police did not connect the disappearance of these women, as Landru used a wide variety of aliases in his schemes. He kept a ledger listing the particular alias he used when corresponding with each woman.
In 1919, the sister of one of Landru's victims attempted to track her down. She did not know Landru's real name but she knew his appearance and where he lived, and she eventually persuaded the police to arrest him. Initially, Landru was charged only with embezzlement. He refused to talk to the police, and with no bodies (police dug up his garden without result), there was seemingly insufficient evidence for a murder charge. However, police did eventually find fragmentary paperwork listing the missing women, and combining this with other documents provided the necessary evidence.
Trial and execution
Landru stood trial on 11 counts of murder in November 1921. He was convicted on all counts, sentenced to death, and guillotined three months later in Versailles. During his trial, Landru drew a picture of his kitchen, including the stove in which he was accused of burning his victims, and gave it to one of his lawyers; he had written on the back, Ce n'est pas le mur derrière lequel il se passe quelque chose, mais bien la cuisinière dans laquelle on a brûlé quelque chose ("It is not the wall behind which a thing takes place, but indeed the stove in which a thing has been burned"). This has been interpreted as a confession.
List of victims
- Mme. Jeanne-Marie Cuchet (last seen January 1915)
- Mme. Cuchet's son, André Cuchet (January 1915)
- Mme. Thérèse Laborde-Line (26 June 1915)
- Mme. Marie-Angélique Guillin (2 August 1915)
- Mme. Berthe-Anna Héon (8 December 1915)
- Mme. Anne Collomb (25 December 1915)
- Andrée-Anne Babelay (12 April 1916)
- Mme. Célestine Buisson (19 August 1916)
- Mme. Louise-Joséphine Jaume (25 November 1917)
- Mme. Anne-Marie Pascal (5 April 1918)
- Mme. Marie-Thérèse Marchadier (15 January 1919)
In popular culture
- Landru is mentioned in Chapter Two of 'The Prisoner', part of 'In Search of Lost Time' ('À la recherche du temps perdu') a novel by Marcel Proust published in 1923.
- Landru is listed as one of the wax effigies at Roger's Museum in H. P. Lovecraft's 1932 short story collaboration "The Horror in the Museum".
- Landru was the inspiration for Charlie Chaplin's film Monsieur Verdoux (1947).
- A wax figure of Landru is presented as modern day bluebeard in horror film House of Wax (1953 film)
- The 1960 film Bluebeard's Ten Honeymoons starred George Sanders as Landru.
- The 1962 film Landru, directed by Claude Chabrol, was inspired by the murders.
- In the 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "The New Exhibit", a wax figure of Landru plays an important role.
- Decaux, A. Les Assassins, pp. 260-263. Librairie Académique Perrin, 1986
- "The Washington times. (Washington [D.C.]) 1902-1939, September 03, 1922, SUNDAY MORNING, Image 22". 3 September 1922. p. 2. Retrieved 20 October 2017 – via chroniclingamerica.loc.gov.
- "serial killer true crime library * serial killer news * list of serial killers * serial murder * female serial killers * crime scene investigation * tueur en serie * omicidi seriali *". www.crimezzz.net. Retrieved 20 October 2017.