Hi everyone, I hope you are enjoying your day. If not, let me cheer you up with another story of death and misery ! Today, I’m going to tell you the story of a guy who chose to scam women and kill them instead of simply getting and keeping a job. Ladies, gentlemen and everyone in between, I present to you Henri Désiré Landru !
Henri Désiré Landru was born on April 12th, 1869. Despite the fact that his parents were from the working class, his birth was welcomed as a blessing, and that’s why he was named Désiré (it means « desired »). Unlike the other assholes that I wrote about, his childhood was nothing but sunshine and rainbows. He was a well-behaved child, a good student and an even better choir boy. Now you must be saying « But Elsa, how did everything go from sunshine and rainbows to bodies in the oven ? » Well, we’ll get there when we get there…
After completing high school, Henri tries studying architecture and fails miserably. He still manages to get hired as an assistant by an architect, but he loses that job pretty fast.
At 20, he meets Marie-Catherine Rémy and manages to seduce. Two years later, they have a daughter even though they are still not married (remember, we are in the 1880’s). Two years after that, as Henri is finishing his military service, he marries Marie-Catherine and recognizes their child.
The growing family should be able to live in pretty decent conditions, but Henri can’t hold onto a job to save his life, so they move a lot and have a lot of financial problems. In 1900, Marie-Catherine gives birth to the couple’s fourth child, and the family hits rock bottom. And that’s where the scamming begins…
For his first con, Henri pretends to be a civil engineer who invented a motorized bike. He puts ads everywhere in the newspaper, and demands a third of the price of the bike to secure an order. Obviously, there is no bike, and Henri disappears with the money.
This scam is a success for him, but next ones cost him several trips to jail and even more money problems. In 1914, after he sold a garage without paying the one he bought him from, Henri finds himself on the run. He is tried in absentia, and sentenced to life in French Guiana, which pretty much means a slow and painful death at the time. Henri thus realizes that his next scam must be perfect.
He starts putting matrimonial adverts in the newspapers, and selects isolated women who can disappear without a trace. Using this method, he will meet around 300 women before he’s caught.
To attract the women with big wallets, he rents a big house in Vernouillet , near Paris, which he leaves not long after to rent another one in Gambais. Now you must be asking « But Elsa, what does his family think of this ? » The answer is nothing. They don’t even know what he is doing because he makes them believe that he is a salesman.
Anyway, once he’s attracted a rich single woman, he seduces her and makes her put her assets in the fake name he’s using at the time. Once that’s done, he proposes a marriage, and lures them to Vernouillet/Gambais to kill them and take everything he can.
Between 1914 and 1919, he will manages to make 11 victims: Jeanne Cuchet and her son André, Thérèse Laborde-Line, Marie-Angélique Guillin, Berte-Anna Héon, Anna Collomb, Andrée-Anne Babelay, Célestine Buisson, Louise-Joséphine Jaume, Anne-Marie Pascal, and Marie-Thérèse Marchadier.
To this day, no one knows how Henri killed his victims. We only know that once they were dead, he cut them into pieces and put as much of them as he could into his oven, before throwing what he couldn’t burn into the forest or the nearby lake. Regarding the personal possessions of the victims, like dresses and jewelry, he put what he couldn’t sell in a garage in Clichy.
In 1917, the few loved ones of Henri’s victims start asking questions, and his scam starts to collapse. The mayor of Gambais receives a letter from Anna Collomb’s friends saying that they haven’t heard from her since she moved to Gambais with a certain Mr. Fremiet. There is no Mr. Fremiet in Gambais’ official records, so the mayor puts the letter in a drawer. A few months later, he receives another letter, from Célestine Buisson’s loved ones this time. They also mention Mr. Fremiet, but with a description of the house he supposedly lives in. The mayor recognizes the house, so he starts a little investigation. He soon finds out that the house is rented by a Mr. Dupont, who also disappeared. He then recommends to the two sets of loved ones to involve the police.
The investigation has a rough beginning, since the police doesn’t even know what the guy they’re looking for actually looks like. Thankfully, a friend of Célestine Buisson recognizes Mr. Fremiet in a store in Paris and notifies the investigators. The store has a log with their clients’ addresses in it, so they find that their man lives in an apartment on Rochechouart street, and they arrest him in the morning on April 12th, 1919 (yeah, on his 50th birthday). At the time of his arrest, he was chilling with his most recent mistress, an opera singer named Fernande Segret.
Obviously, Mr. Fremiet/Dupont is in reality good ol’ Henri Désiré Landru, and the investigators find that out pretty easily, since he rented his garage in Clichy under his real name (how can someone be that stupid, seriously) and left the rent receipt lying around in his apartment (smh).
Once he is in custody, he is searched, and the investigators find two notebooks in his pockets. One is some sort of account book, and the other is a register with the name of his victims on it (why would you keep that on you ffs). In his garage, the policemen finds even more detailed files on his scams and his victims.
Facing that much evidence, anyone would confess right ? Not Henri. He claims that he didn’t kill anybody, and that he doesn’t know where Ms. Buisson and Ms. Collomb are. Apart from that, he doesn’t say much, and only opens his mouth to ask for food and water. He even takes a nap during his interrogation !
As the interrogation is taking place, policemen are searching the house in Gambais, but only find fragments of human bones and the bodies of Marie-Thérèse Marchadier’s dogs. That’s still circumstantial evidence, so it’s a win for them.
As soon as they hear about it, journalists throw themselves on the story, and French people start to hear about Henri Landru every day. That actually helps the investigation because the loved ones of the other victims recognize him in the newspapers and write to the investigators. The 11 victims are soon identified.
Henri Désiré Landru’s trial starts on November 7th, 1921. Hundreds of people make the trip to see it like it’s the new hot show in town, and Henri gives them one. He makes jokes, interrupts the prosecutor and acts like a douche all throughout the trial. His delivery is good, but his defense is weak, and only relies on the fact that no bodies where found.
On November 30th, 1921, after 2 hours of deliberation, the jury finds Henri guilty on all counts, and sentences him to death by guillotine. I don’t know why, but some victims’ loved ones ask for a lighter sentence, but thankfully their request is denied. Moreover, Henri receives thousands of love letters, including around 800 marriage proposals. I don’t know what French ladies were sniffing in the 1920’s, but it must have been some good shit.
Henri Désiré Landru is executed on February 25th, 1922. A simple end for a mediocre man.
What can say except goodbye, you ugly bitch !
That’s it for today ! Tell me what you think about this case in the comments or on r/Murder_Wine_Cheese, and if you want to make a suggestion or a donation, everything’s on the English homepage. Have a nice day, I’ll see you in the next article !