25 May 1946 – Marcel Petiot

Marcel PetiotYou’d think there was enough bloodshed rife in Nazi-infested France during World War II. Obviously not for Marcel André Henri Félix Petiot, who decided Paris was in dire need of a spot of serial killing.

He pretended to offer an escape route out of the country, but would-be escapees would never to see the light of day again. And he did this all under one of his many aliases – code name, Dr Eugene.

That he was a trained doctor was right, although, how he became a doctor is a mystery – from a young age he had mental-health problems and was expelled from school. And he was even discharged from the army on the grounds of mental instability. Nevertheless he bizarrely gained a degree in psychiatry.

Petiot was an all-round dodgy geezer – running for mayor one year, he apparently hired a man to disrupt an open debate, which secured his success in the election. Once in situ, he proceeded to siphon off funds, even steal a bass drum from a local band! Sure enough, he was finally ejected from office after details of his thieving ways emerged.

Resistance is futile

It is thought he may have claimed his first victim at around this time – the daughter of one his patients – with whom he is said to have had an illicit affair. But this was never given any credence. This, despite the fact that Petiot was seen with a trunk similar on one that contained body parts, which was fished out of the river. And during office, he may even have killed another woman with whom he was getting his end away.

In fact, he generated such suspicion wherever he went that, when he eventually moved to Paris, the law actually turned up on his doorstep. There they found yet more corpses, but he blagged that the bodies they found were actually some of their loathed German captors, to which the police initially decided to turn a blind eye, allowing him to escape.

Indeed when a directive came through from the Germans via Paris to arrest him as a nutter, this definitely helped secure the fact that he was indeed a hero of the Resistance, at least in other people’s minds.

They decided to slow down the manhunt as a result. But the Gestapo eventually caught up with him and interrogated him as an underground member of the French movement that was devoted to fighting for French liberty from the Nazis.

Marcel’s morceaux

But that was a red herring – all rubbish. Drug addicts, prostitutes, pimps, even their mothers, as well as Jews and Resistance fighters hoping to flee to Nazi-less freedom were his victims.

The authorities conservatively put the estimate at 10 confirmed deaths, but acknowledged there were way more than that at Petiot’s house – bits and pieces of people that the lawmen couldn’t even begin to identify were in abundance.

By this time Petiot was on the run again, but he couldn’t resist the temptation to steep himself in yet more dodgy deaths. He’d reinvented himself as Henri Valéri and was serving in the French Forces of the Interior (FFI) and it was during this time that he was exposed as the serial killer he was. He was even outed as a ‘soldier of the Reich’. That indictment didn’t appear to be true either – he was simply a nutter by all accounts.

Severance pay

He was finally apprehended and there he pleaded that he was indeed a member of the Resistance. Funny that no-one in the Resistance knew him… The police dismissed his alibi out of the water and he was packed off to trial charged with the murder of 27 people in the pursuit of money.

Indeed his spoils are said to have amounted to F200 million (roughly £24.2 million) made up of cash, gold and jewellery. Indeed, there were 135 charges levelled at the no-good doctor and a jury took just three hours to convict him on virtually all of the counts. And for his avaricious crimes he got the ultimate punishment – the guillotine.

Basket case

He kept his head a bit longer than expected however. A fault with the guillotine earned him a stay of execution, but the reprieve only lasted a matter of days, before the French authorities relieved the mass murderer of the brain behind the whole killing spree. Apparently as the blade dropped so Petiot’s severed head landed in the basket; smiling.

Also on this day

25 May 2005 – Gregory Scott Johnson
25 May 1979 – John Arthur Spenkelink

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One Response to “25 May 1946 – Marcel Petiot”

  1. Bianca F. Says:

    “Nevertheless he bizarrely gained a degree in psychiatry.”… It takes one to know one as the saying goes…….

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