31 December 1898 – Joseph Vacher

Joseph Vacher

Joseph Vacher

A French version of Jack the Ripper was beheaded after he confessed to murdering a feast of victims, among them shepherds and shepherdesses.

Aged just 29, Joseph Vacher, was guillotined for strangling and mutillating, raping or disembowelling, even gorging himself on blood from the necks of his chosen victims in south-west France.

Early signs

Even as a child, he had been given to killing animals and slapping his 14 brothers and sisters around. But his ultimate decent into depravity was borne out of his lack of luck with the ladies.

Before Vacher had even reached the age of 20, unsavoury encounters with a prostitute landed him a sexually transmitted disease, so part of his testicles had to be lopped off.

Following that, he was thwarted in love. So at 25, Vacher first tried to shoot the object of his affection, before turning the gun on himself. When those attempts failed, he began targeting women, girls and lone shepherd boys.

With conservative reports ranging from 11 to 23 victims, Vacher was finally caught after he tried to kill a woman in a field. But her screams luckily brought her husband and son to her rescue. Vacher was overpowered and packed off to the police station where his crimes soon caught up with him.

Rabid results

He put his gruesome killing spree down to the possibility that his blood had been poisoned after a rabid dog bit him as a child. The ensuing herbal medicine he was given to combat the rabies apparently left him short tempered and given to bouts of brutality. People even testified that his personality had changed as a result of that encounter.

Nevertheless, he was finally put to death on New Year’s Eve 1898 in Bourg-en-Bresse, Ain Province.

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