A.K.A.: "The Murderer of Maids"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Robberies - Later reports of cannibalism/vampirism unsubstantiated
Number of victims: 6 +
Date of murders: 1855 - 1861
Date of arrest: June 3, 1861
Date of birth: 1810
Victims profile: Young women
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Montluel, Rhône-Alpes, France
Status: Executed by guillotine on March 8, 1862
In the middle of the 19th Century France had a serial killing husband and wife team, Marie and Martin Dumollard. The couple lured young women to their house in Lyon with the promise of work. Once the victims were inside their home they were strangled and their bodies buried around the killers’ cottage. The couple’s murderous campaign came to an end when a victim escaped and went to police. Martin was beheaded and Marie sent to the galleys.
Martin Dumollard, vampire of Lyon
One is the first assassin in series documented of the history of France. Famous to assassinate its victims and later to drink its blood.
It was born the 22 of February of 1810. The four years had left orphan. His father had been found by the Austrians and massacreed by crimes that had committed in Austria.
Her mother would practice the mendicidad along with to be able to take the bread to the mouth. Next to her one settled down in different cities of Montluel.
One married with Marianne Martinet. Both rented a small house in Lyon. There it will be, next to its wife, where it will commit its crimes.
Marianne collaborated actively with his husband. They encouraged to the young people so that they went to its house by means of a promise of improvements in its work.
For it they went to fairs and markets, where they made the interview to the girls eager to work.
Once they managed to catch its victims, in the networks of its home, it strangled them with a cord and next they sold the clothes in the market.
It assassinated many young women, perhaps more of those than she only says, that without being able to verify.
One of its victims was able to be saved and when escaping it related all the happened one to him to the police, thanks to it was made a judgment in Bourg, January (1862). Declaring it guilty to assassinate six children.
It was condemned until death and executed in public (Biddenden, 8 of March, 1862). Marianne Dumollard went the condemned to works forced in the galeras.
The corpses were found in Lyon and to the north of Biddenden.
Martin Dumollard was a cruel and ruthless assassin with taste by the blood and helped at any moment by its faithful wife Marianne.
A French Wolf
In March, 1862, the chance of continental travel brought under the writer's personal notice the consummation of a history of horror not perhaps to be surpassed in the most carefully elaborated page of French romance. The narrative of facts so frightful would indeed be a barren as well as painful task, did not the case in question present certain novel aspects worthy of attention.
The neighbourhood of Montluel a small town about twelve miles from Lyons, on the road to Geneva enjoys a traditionary ill repute. Across the plain of Valbonne, on which it stands, may be seen the glimmer of two white houses the Great and Little Dangerous so called from having been in former days the scene of many deeds of lawless violence. The country around is broken, sparsely inhabited, and dotted with patches of dense and sombre woodland, sometimes reaching almost to the dimensions of forests. A better locality no robber could desire.
Now, for six years, dating from February, 'fifty-five, the ancient bad reputation of this precinct had been resuscitated. On the 8th of February, 'fifty-five, some sportsmen, threading the thickets of Montaverne, came on the corpse of a young female, covered with blood, which had proceeded from six terrible wounds in the head and face. The body was stripped, and had been subjected to gross outrage. A handkerchief, collar, black-lace cap, and a pair of shoes, were picked up close at hand. By the aid of these things, the deceased was soon identified as Marie Baday, late a servant at Lyons, which city she had quitted three days before. She had stated as the reason for her departure, that a man from the country had offered her a good situation in the neighbourhood, provided she could take it at once. Precisely similar proposals had been made, on the very same day, to another servant girl, Marie Cart : the agent being a country-looking man, aged about fifty, and having a noticeable scar or swelling on the upper lip. Marie Cart postponed her answer until the 4th of March : a circumstance which probably induced the suspected person to address himself, in the interim, to Marie Baday.
On the 4th of March, the same man called again upon Marie Cart, who finally declined his offer, but introduced him to a friend of hers, Olympe Alabert also a servant who, tempted with what she considered an advantageous proposal, closed with it, and left Lyons under the guidance of the supposed countryman. Night was falling as they entered the wood of Montaverne, in which, a few days before,, the body of Marie Baday had been found. Acting on a sudden impulse, induced, perhaps, by the gloomy solitude of the place, the girl quitted her conductor, and sought refuge in a neighbouring farm.
At this point strange as it seems, considering on what a stratum of crime they had touched the discoveries of the police ended for that time.
In the month of September following, a man, answering in every point to the former description, induced a girl, named Joseph te Charlety, to accompany him to a pretended situation as a domestic servant, and both left the city together. Their way led through cross roads ; until, night coming on, the girl like Olympe Alabert oppressed with a nameless terror, fled to the nearest house.
On the 31st of October, the wolf again visited the fold, and selected Jeanne Bourgeois, another servant girl. But once more an opportune misgiving saved the intended prey. In the succeeding month, the wolf made choice of one Victorine Perrin ; but, on this occasion, being crossed by some travellers, it was the wolf who took to flight, carrying with him the girl's trunk, containing all her clothes and money. None of these incidents seemed to have provoked much attention from the authorities ; and horrible deeds actually in course of commission were only brought to light by the almost miraculous escape of another proposed victim, Marie Pichon.
On the 26th of May, '61, at eleven o'clock at night, a woman knocked wildly at the door of a farm, in the village of Balan, demanding help against an assassin. Her bruised and wounded face, torn garments, shoeless feet, all bore testimony to the imminence of the danger from which she had escaped.
Conducted to the brigade of gendarmerie at Montluel, she made the following statement : listened to at the subsequent trial with breathless interest : " To-day, at two o'clock, I was crossing the bridge La Guillotiere, at Lyons, when a man I had not before observed, but who must have been following me, plucked my dress and asked if I could tell him in what street the Servants' Office was situated. I mentioned two, adding that I was myself about to visit the latter. He asked if I were in search of a place. 'Yes/ 'Then,' said he, 'I have exactly the thing to suit you. I am gardener at a chateau near Montluel, and my mistress has sent me to Lyons with positive orders to hring back a house-servant, cost what it may.' He enumerated the advantages I should enjoy, and said that the work would be very light, and the wages two hundred and fifty francs, besides many Christmas-boxes. A married daughter of his mistress paid her frequent visits, and always left five francs on the mantelpiece for the maid. He added, that I should be expected to attend mass regularly.
"The appearance, language, and manner of the man gave me so strong an impression of good faith, that, without a minute's hesitation, I accepted his offer, and we accordingly left by the train, which arrived at Montluel about nightfall half-past seven Placing my trunk upon his shoulder he desired me to follow, saying we had now a walk of an hour and a half, but that, by taking cross paths, we should quickly reach our destination. I carried in one hand a little box : in the other, my basket and umbrella. We crossed the railway and walked for some distance along the parallel road, when the man turned suddenly to the left and led me down a steep descent, skirted on both sides by thick bushes. Presently he faced round, saying that my trunk fatigued him ; that he would conceal it in a thicket, and come back for it with a carriage on the morrow. We then abandoned the path altogether, crossed several fields, and came to a coppice, in which he hid the trunk, saying we should presently see the chateau. After this, we traversed other fields, twice crossing over places that looked like dried-up watercourses, and finally, through very difficult ways, rather scrambling than walking, arrived at the summit of a little hill.
" I must mention something that had attracted my attention. Throughout the walk my guide seemed remarkably attentive, constantly cautioning me to mind my steps, and assisted me carefully over every obstacle. Immediately after crossing the hill I spoke of, his movements began to give me uneasiness. In passing some vines he tried to pull up a large stake. It, however, resisted his efforts, and, as I was following close on his heels, he did not persevere. A little farther, he stooped down and seemed to be endeavouring to pick up one of the large stones that lay about. Though now seriously alarmed, I asked, with all the indifference I could command, what he was looking for. He made an unintelligible reply, and presently repeated the manoeuvre. Again I inquired what he was looking for, Had he lost anything? 'Nothing, nothing/ he replied ; ' it was only a plant I meant to pick for my garden.' Other singular movements kept me in a state of feverish alarm. I observed that he several times lagged behind, and, whenever he did so, moved his hands about under his blouse, as though in search of a weapon. I was frozen with terror. Eun away I durst not, for I felt he would pursue me ; but I constantly urged him to lead the way, assuring him I would follow.
" In this way we reached the top of another small hill, on which stood a half-built cottage. There was a cabbage-garden and a good wheel-road. My very fear now gave me the necessary courage. I resolved to go no farther, and at once said, ' I see you have led me wrong. I shall stop here/ Hardly had the words left my mouth when he turned sharply round, stretched his arms above my head, and let fall a cord with a running noose. We were at this moment almost in contact. Instinctively, I let fall everything I carried, and with both hands seized the man's two arms, pushing him from me with all my strength. This movement saved me. The cord, which was already round my head, only aught and pulled off my cap. I shrieked out, ' My Grod ! my God ! I am lost!'
"I was too much agitated to observe why the assassin did not repeat his attack. All I recollect is that the cord was still in his hand. I caught up my box and umbrella, and flew down the hill. In crossing a little ditch, I fell and bruised myself severely, losing my umbrella. Pear, however, gave me strength. I heard the heavy steps of the murderer in pursuit, and was on my legs again in an instant, running for life. At that moment, the moon rose above the trees on my left, and I saw. the glimmer of a white house on the plain. Towards this I flew, crossing the railway, and falling repeatedly in my headlong course. Soon I saw lights. It was Balan. I stopped at the first house. A man ran out, and I was saved."
Such was Marie Pichon's narrative. The authorities, now fully aroused, at once commenced a searching inquiry. Ultimately, the eye of justice rested on a certain small house in the little hamlet of Dumollard. Village gossip spoke unreservedly of the skulking nocturnal habits of its master the stern, unsocial manners of his wife. Their name was the same as the village, Dumollard : a very common name in that district. The man had a peculiar scar or tumour on his upper lip.
The magistrates at once waited upon Dumollard, and requested an explanation of the employment of his time on the day and night of the 28th of May. The answers heing evasive, and certain articles in the house wearing a very suspicious look, Dumollard was given into custody, conveyed to Trevoux, and instantly identified by Marie Pichon as her assailant. Meanwhile, a search in his house resulted in the discovery of an immense accumulation of articles,evidently the produce of plunder clothes, linen, pieces of lace, ribbons, gowns, handkerchiefs, shoes in a word, every species of articles that might have belonged to girls of the servant class. Very many of these bore traces of blood : others had been roughly washed and wrung out. These objects amounted in all to twelve hundred and fifty. " The man must have a charnel somewhere," said one of the searchers.
It was next ascertained that, in November, '58, Dumollard was seen to alight one evening at the station of Montluel, accompanied by a young woman, whose luggage he deposited in the office, saying that he would call for it next day. It was never claimed.
" On the night you mean/' said the wife of Dumollard who, after the search in the house, had been likewise taken into custody, and now showed a disposition to confess " Dumollard came home very late, bringing a silver watch and some blood-stained clothes. He gave me the latter to wash, only saying, in his short way, ' I have killed a girl in Montmain Wood, and I am going back to bury her/ He took his pickaxe, and went out. The next day he wanted to claim the girl's luggage, but I dissuaded him from doing so."
In order to verify this statement, the magistrates, on the 31st of July, '61, repaired to Montmain Wood, taking with them the two accused. For some hours all their searches proved fruitless, the woman declaring her inability to point out the precise spot, and the man preserving a stolid silence. At length some appearance of a tumulus was detected among the bushes, and a few strokes of the pickaxe made visible some bones. A circular trench was then carefully dug, and a perfect female skeleton uncovered. The skull presented a frightful fracture. Under it was found some, brown hair and a large double hair-pin.
The prisoners were now brought forward, and confronted with the silent witness.
The woman having volunteered further confession, the party now proceeded to the wood Communes, also near Montluel; but night coming on, investigation was deferred till the next day. A great part of the next day was passed in fruitless search, when, just as the party prepared to return to Montluel with the view of organizing explorations on a larger scale, Dumollard suddenly declared that he would himself point out the place they sought.
He thereupon guided them to a spot about fifty yards deep in the wood. Here they laboured for another hour with no better success, until one of the officers noticed a slight displacement of the soil, presenting some small fissures, from whence flies were issuing. Above this spot two little shrubs, evidently placed by design, had taken feeble root.
A stroke of the spade laid visible the back of a human hand. Presently the body of a young female, in complete preservation (owing to the character of the soil), was exposed to view. The corpse lay on its back, the left hand on the bosom, the fingers clutching a clod of earth. Appearances favoured the frightful conclusion that the victim had been buried while yet alive and conscious.
The bearing of Dumollard in the presence of this new and terrible accuser, was as calm as ever. Not the slightest trace of emotion was perceptible on his stolid features. It was observed, nevertheless, that he studiously avoided looking, as it were, on the face of his victim. The magistrates seized the moment to impress upon him the inutility of any further attempt to evade justice, and invited him to make a full confession. After a few moments of seeming irresolution, he commenced the following recital :
"One day in December, '53, I was accosted in Lyons by two individuals of the farmer class, whose manner and appearance won my unlimited confidence. After treating me to wine at a neighbouring tavern, they invited me to stroll on the quay, asked me a multitude of questions, and finally proposed to me to enter their service. I inquired the nature of the work required of me. ' The abduction of young women/ was the reply. ' You shall have forty francs for every " prize," and if you remain with us twenty years, we will guarantee you a hundred thousand francs.'
" Such a proposal seemed far too advantageous to be treated lightly," continued Dumollard. "They gave me the necessary instructions, which were simple enough. I was merely to look out for young females in search of situations, offer them first-rate wages, and conduct them beyond the town.
"A week later, we commenced operations on the Place de la Charite. My first attempt failed ; but the second woman I accosted listened to my story, accepted the pretended situation, and accompanied me from the town. At the end of the suburbs my two employers met me. I pretended to have forgotten something, and, telling the girl these gentlemen were friends of mine, requested her to go on with them, promising to overtake them at Neyron. I lingered about the spot for three hours, when the men returned, and handed me a parcel, saying it was a present for my wife. Opening it, I found a gown and chemise, both stained with blood. I recognised the dress of the woman I had brought, and demanded what had become of her. ' You will not see her again/ was the only reply.
" On the way home I washed the clothes in the fountain at Neyron, and gave them to my wife, saying I had purchased them at Lyons.
" I never knew the exact place in which they murdered the girl, but I think it must have been near the bridge Du Barre, and that they flung the body into the Rhone. I think so, because one day in the ensuing summer, while crossing that bridge in their company, one of them remarked, 'We have sent two bodies under this bridge already/ And this I understood to imply two other murders, anterior to that I have mentioned.
"Nothing remarkable happened until February, '55, when my two friends met me by appointment at a wine-shop, and brought with them a young female of dark complexion, with whom and the men I set forth, and proceeded as far as the road leading from Hiribel to Eomaneche, which passes through the wood. Here I sat down, declaring I would go no farther. They tried to persuade me to proceed, but finding me determined, presently pursued their way, taking with them the girl.
" I waited two hours. No cry reached my ears. Still I had a presentiment of something wrong. The men returned alone, saying they had left the girl at a farm. As they brought no clothes with them, I was inclined to believe their story. We then parted, and I returned home."
[This was, no doubt, the unfortunate Marie Baday.]
" Nothing occurred for two years, during which I had occasional interviews with my two friends ; at length, in December, '58, I fell in with them on the Quai de Perrache. They told me they had something on hand, would I come ? I consented, and they left me ; presently returning with a young girl, with whom we started by the rail for Montluel. It was
dark when we arrived, and the men, taking me aside, requested me to guide them to some secluded spot, indicating the wood of Choisey. I told them it was too close to the high road ; it would be better to go on farther. Presently we reached the edge of Montmain Wood. That, I told them, would do.
" They left me seated by the roadside. Soon I heard one loud scream, about three hundred yards distant ; then profound silence. In a few minutes the men returned, bringing a silver watch and some clothes. I told them I had heard a scream, and asked if she had suffered much ? ' No/ they answered ; ' we gave her one blow on the head, and
another in the side, and that did the business/
" We knew that the body of Marie Eaday had been found, and it was judged prudent to bury this new corpse. I therefore ran to my house for the tools, and at the same time gave my wife the watch, and the clothes, which were stained with blood. She asked me whence they came ? Thinking that if I accused others she would not believe me, and relying, like a fool, on her discretion, I replied that they had belonged to a girl I had killed, and was about to bury, in Montmain Wood. I then went back to my friends, who dug a shallow grave, and concealed the body, while I sat by."
[This was the victim never identified whose skeleton was exhumed, as before mentioned, on the 31st July, '61.]
Dumollard referred to certain other attempts, which had failed, owing to the suspicions of the intended victims, and continued
"I must speak now of this girl, Marie Eulalie Bussod, whose body lies before us. I accosted her one day on the bridge La Gruillotiere, and asked her if she would accept a good place in the country, offering two hundred francs. She required two hundred and ten, and we went to the residence of her sister to discuss the matter, where I agreed to her terms. At the end of a week I returned, and escorted her to the station at Brotteaux, where I had, in the interim, desired my two employers to meet me. They came, and I introduced them to Marie Bussod as friends and neighbours of mine, who would accompany us some little distance after quitting the rail.
" It was dark when we reached Montluel, and I had to act as guide, carrying the girl's trunk. ' What a lovely creature !' whispered one of my friends to me as we set out.
" I led the way towards the wood Communes a wild, retired spot following a path, almost obliterated, towards Croix-Martel. Here I hid the trunk among some bushes, assuring the girl I would return for it in the morning.
"Somehow, at this point, my courage failed me. I told my friends I could go no farther ; at the same time, however, pointing out to them Communes Wood, which lay but a few paces distant. In two hours the men returned, bringing some clothes and a pair of gold ear-rings, which they gave me for my wife. I inquired what they had done with the girl ? ' Oh/ said one, ' she got two blows on the head, and one in the stomach. She made no great outcry/ I then went home for a spade, and the men buried her here, as you see.
" Marie Pichon would inevitably have suffered the same fate, had not my two employers failed me at the appointed place. I did not wish to do her any harm. On the contrary, finding the men absent, I wished to get rid of her, and, to frighten her, threw my arms (not a cord, as she affirms) round her neck. I was glad to see her run away. 'At least/ I thought, ' they'll not get this one !'
" Some days later, finding an inquiry on foot, I judged it prudent to destroy the effects of the girl Bussod, and those of Pichon, and, assisted by my wife, buried them accordingly in the wood des Rouillonnes.
" Now I have told all. I have nothing more to add."
It is almost needless to mention that the two mysterious persons on whom he affected to lay the burden of these atrocious crimes had no real existence. Unable to resist the proof of his own complicity, Dumollard, as Eush did before him, saw no hope of escape, save in conjuring up some individual more guilty than himself.
The account against him now stood as follows :
Three women, unknown, murdered and flung into the Rhone.
Murder of Marie Baday; body found in Móntaverne.
Murder of a girl unknown ; skeleton found in Montmain wood.
Murder of Marie Bussod ; body found in Communes Wood.
Attempts at robbery and assassination on the persons of the women Charlety, Alabert, Bourgeois, Perrin, Fargat, Michel, Pichon, and three others unidentified.
Nor is it to be supposed that he confessed to all the victims. Without dwelling on opinions which carried the number of those actually murdered to twelve, sixteen, eighteen, it may be gathered from hints let fall at intervals by the female prisoner, as well as from the vast accumulation of clothes and the like (among which were numerous articles which must have belonged to children of nine or ten years old), that these intermediate periods described by Dumollard as presenting " nothing remarkable," were stained with deeds as horrible as those confessed to : deeds, perhaps, never to be revealed on earth.
The trial commenced on the twenty-ninth of January, 1862, at the assizes of the Ain, sitting at Bourg : the woman Dumollard being included in the act of accusation. It lasted four days. Through the politeness of the officials it was not difficult for a stranger to obtain an excellent place in the crowded hall, and the temptation of witnessing an important French criminal trial was too great to be resisted by the passing traveller who writes this account of it.
The proceedings commenced at ten o'clock, under the presidency of M. Marillat, of the Imperial Court of Lyons : the Procureur-Greneral on his right, the Procureur-Imperial on his left ; and the magistrates of Bourg, Trevoux, and Montluel on the bench hehind.
A short pause, and the prisoner appeared, escorted by four gendarmes, his wife following.
" There he is ! There he is !" murmured the assembly.
" Yes, here I am !" retorted the prisoner, waving his hat, as a popular candidate might at an election.
He was placed on a bench at a little distance from his wife, and had the appearance of a hale rustic of fifty or thereabouts ; his hair, beard, and moustache, thick and dark ; his nose aquiline ; eyes blue, round, and very prominent ; his whole expression singularly calm and self-possessed. The swelling on his upper lip, by which he had been more than once identified, was very apparent. He had told the jailer that it was occasioned by the sting of a poisonous fly.
The phrenological development of this man presented some extraordinary traits. The skull, enormously large at the base, sloped upward and backward, until it terminated almost in a cone a point too acute to be appreciated without passing the hand through his thick hair. The organs of destructiveness, circumspection, and self-reliance, exhibited the most marked development. In front, the skull rapidly receding, presented, indeed, a "forehead villainous low." From the root of the nose to the root of the hair, it did not exceed three inches. The organs of comparison, causality, ideality, &c., were all but imperceptible ; nay, in some instances, presented an actual depression. In a word, the cruel, brute-like character of this head was due rather to the absence of almost every good feature, than to the extreme development of the bad. It was a type of skull commonly found among nations yet beyond the pale of civilization.
The jury having been impannelled, and two supplementary jurors having been chosen by lot to supply the places of any who might, from illness or other cause, be disqualified from sitting out the trial, the indictment was read.
Scarcely had the last word dropped from the officer's lips than Dumollard rose, and beckoned eagerly to his counsel, M. Lardiere. The latter approached.
"There is a draught of air somewhere," said the prisoner, " which really annoys me excessively. Can nothing be done to remedy it ?"
This important matter arranged to the prisoner's satisfaction, the list of witnesses seventy in number was read aloud all (save one, deceased) answering to their names.
Next came the interrogatory ; that doubtful feature in the otherwise excellent system of French criminal procedure. It was conducted, however, in the present instance, with dignity and fairness. Dumollard was questioned on his domestic relations.
" Your father was a Hungarian ?"
" What became of him ?"
"I cannot say." (Then, hesitatingly:) " If you insist upon my explaining, I will."
" Certainly. You are here to explain."
" My father was well-to-do in his own land. My mother told me that, in 1814, we went into Italy to Padua. There my father was taken prisoner by the Austrians. We never saw him again."
[A horrible story, but resting on very substantial proof, and fully credited at Trevoux, held that Dumollard's father had been implicated in a plot against the life of the Emperor of Austria. On being recognised at Padua, the unhappy man was hastily tried, and subjected to the punishment of " e*cart element," i.e., the culprit being attached to four horses, is dismembered.]
" It is said you have been accustomed to ill-treat your wife ?"
" Never. Well, sometimes, when she has plagued me very much, I may have forgotten myself for a moment."
" You have been convicted of many offences ?"
"How, once only? We have here the record of two convictions, at least. You have no means, yet you do no work. You have borne the character of a vagabond at war with society."
"Since I became the associate of those two wretches" (the fictitious persons), "it has, indeed, been as you say." " You live in singular privacy, forbidding your wife to know her neighbours : a rule so well observed that, before your arrest, the mayor of your commune knew nothing of you. You returned to your house at unusual hours, using a password, ' Hardi,' as one of your neighbours will prove."
" I may have done so, but not in the sense you mean."
Questioned as to Mary Pichon, the prisoner's account corroborated hers, except that he reiterated his assertion that his only object was to frighten her.
" But she declares you strove to strangle her with a cord."
" That is false. If I had had such a purpose, I should not have led her to a place where any alarm might be heard."
" But why lead her thither at all?'*
" My employers said to me, * Eyes are upon you of which you know nothing. If you betray us you are lost/ That alarmed me."
" You have destroyed many of the effects of your several victims. Why have you allowed so many to remain ?"
" I preserved those articles," replied the prisoner, with perfect gravity, "for the sake of the relations of the deceased."
Dumollard being removed, his wife was brought forward. There was nothing noticeable in her appearance or demeanour.
She stated, in reply to various questions, that her husband had twice brought her articles of dress which he described as having been the property of women murdered by him. She had noticed the blood marks, but said nothing to her husband, with whom she lived on indifferent terms. He was frequently absent at night, returning before dawn and using a watchword, as stated. Though cognisant of his guilty practices, she continued to live with him, being completely cowed by his menaces.
The production in court of the stolen effects was the next scene of the legal drama. These were brought forward in two immense chests bound with iron clasps, and sealed.
" Ah, tiens f" murmured the assembly. " Now for the wardrobe of M. Dumollard 1"
The articles were sorted, and placed, " chronologically," in heaps. There were seventy handkerchiefs, fifty-seven pairs of stockings, twenty-eight scarves, thirty-eight caps, ten corsets, nine gowns, and a multitude of miscellaneous objects.
Witness after witness then entered the box, and delivered their testimony with surprising terseness and lucidity. Until the evidence of each was complete, no interruption was offered, unless when the President, observing that the witness was merely corroborating matters already amply deposed to, recalled the speaker to facts bearing more immediately on the case.
Owing to this, and perhaps in some degree to the French facilities of expression, the trial proceeded with great rapidity.
The sixth witness, Louis Cochet, was an odd-looking little man, with a very excited manner. He was Durnollard's next-door neigbour. He stated that he had seen the prisoner come home at two in the morning carrying a trunk.
" He muttered ' Hardi ! hardi !' at the door, and was let in. The next day, he said to Madame (the female prisoner), ' Aha ! I have got the watchword ! I avail myself of Monsieur's absence to call when it suits me !' Then I asked what he did abroad so late ? She grew red, and said drily, ' He has his own affairs/ Oh, messieurs !" said the impressionable little witness, bursting into tears, " I'm fifty-one. I never was in a court of justice before. Now, indeed, I know what frightful ' affairs ' this neighbour of mine dealt in !"
The seventeenth witness, Dr. Montvenoux, detailed the autopsy of the body of Marie Bussod, stating his belief that she had been buried alive.
Hereupon the prisoner's counsel rose for the first time.
" 1 desire," he said, " to know the witness's precise reasons for this presumption. "We have horrors enough, to contend with, without this crowning atrocity. The opinion of the medical witnesses has already created a most painful sensation."
Dr. Montvenoux alleged, as his chief reasons, that the wound was not mortal, nor even severe ; that a ,clod of the outer earth not that which formed the subsoil was grasped in the hand ; and that the teeth were set, as if in agony.
The court now adjourned for a few minutes. Dumollard took a huge lump of bread-and-cheese from his pocket, and began devouring it with the appetite of an ogre. At this moment his eye happened to fall on Marie Pichon, who was moving through the court. Faithful to his plan of defence, he called out to her:
" Ah, malheureuse ! But for me, you would not have been here now. Come and thank me for rescuing you from those villains."
The girl made no reply ; but her sister, who accompanied her, retorted with such warmth and volubility that the dialogue was checked by the officer of the court. A curious little episode occurred in the waiting-room. Marie Pichon, who was evidently regarded as the heroine of the hour, and was distinguished by a very pleasing countenance and ingenuous manner, had been prevailed upon by a photographer sent from Paris to sit for her picture. Just as she had taken her position, a respectably-dressed woman forced her way through the crowd, and running up to Pichon, implored her to forbear, reminding her, in accordance with a popular belief which it seems existed, that all women who have become associated in a marked manner with great criminal processes such as Nina Lassave, Fieschi's mistress, " Madame " Lacenaire, and others came to some melancholy end.
Maria Pichon started : " Ah, mon Dieu / monsieur, spare me ! Do not put me beside that wretch !" she exclaimed, and was instantly lost in the crowd.
The examination of the fifty-third witness produced a most painful scene. This was Josephte Bussod, sister of the murdered girl, who, with two other sisters, appeared in deep mourning, and testified the most profound grief. It was necessary that she should identify the clothes of the deceased ; and as each familiar garment stained with her blood was in turn held up, the tears and sobs of the witnesses redoubled, and deeply affected the auditory. The prisoners alone preserved their calmness.
" Do you recollect this dress ?" asked the President of Dumollard.
" And you, Marianne Dumollard ?"
" Of course ; I have worn it."
" Have you not also worn a cap with marks of blood?"
" Certainly not. I should have washed 'it," said the woman.
"You fully recognise the prisoner?" asked the President of the weeping witness.
" Eecognise him !" shrieked the poor girl, wringing her hands with wild passion. " The miscreant ! the monster ! He killed my sister my poor Eulalie ! But it is I, too / that am guilty. 0, mon Dieu ! mon Dieu ! I believed him ! I trusted him ! I made her go with him to death to death ! And what a death !"
She was carried out fainting. A gentleman sitting near stated that since the discovery of her sister's fate she had never ceased to accuse herself in this manner as a sort of accomplice.
The Procureur- General gave a brief summary of the case, claiming the extreme penalty of the law against both the prisoners.
" One" he concluded, " as the participator in all the robberies, the confederate of all the horrors that had preceded them. The other, as an habitual professed assassin, whose life has been one long outrage and defiance of all laws, divine and human. Steeped in infamy enemy alike of the living and of the dead he has made no single pause in his career of crime, nor can any penalty of man's enactment attain the standard of his desert."
Dumollard's advocate, M. Lardiere, followed, and commenced his address in a manner decidedly French.
" In the secluded village of Dagneux, lately so obscure, to-day so notorious, there stands, fronting the church, a modest tomb, wherein repose all that is mortal of those I loved best on earth my father and my mother. Since the period that the exigencies of my professional career have forbidden me to kneel at that cherished shrine, memory has daily pictured to me those happy shades, that simple, quiet community, among whom the soft joys of earlier youth were tasted."
The excellent advocate, in less euphonious phrase, proceeded to explain that Dumollard, recollecting his name in connexion with the place, had written to him, entreating him to undertake his defence.
" Perhaps it is a first expiation on the part of this unhappy man," remarked Monsieur L., with almost overweening modesty, " that he should have selected my weak aid, instead of that of some more distinguished member of that bar whose hospitality I am now enjoying."
Monsieur L. made no effort to rebut the evidence, resting his defence on the ground of those social defects which cast men like Dumollard, unheeded, unreclaimed, loose upon the world, from their cradles ; while, at the same time, the growing aversion to capital punishment weakens the sole barrier by which the passions of such men are restrained. Shall, then, society wreak mortal vengeance upon a deed for which it is itself, in some measure, responsible ?
The counsel of the female prisoner, M. Villeneuve, delivered a long and very eloquent address, and, having better materials to work with, made a decided impression on the court and jury.
The President gave an impartial summing up, and concluded by submitting to the jury twenty-eight distinct questions, bearing upon the various acts of murder, robbery, &c., charged in the indictment.
It was four o'clock on the fourth day when the jury withdrew to their consultations. The prisoners were removed, and groups forming in every part of the court, eagerly discussed the case. No doubt was felt as to Dumollard. The strongest opponents of capital punishment seemed on this occasion to have laid aside their prejudices. As an illustration of this, a gentleman who had been summoned among the jury, but was not one of those on whom the lot fell, observed
" I have never been able to condemn a man to death, but in spite of the scruples I have always felt and expressed as to the inviolability of human life, I would, in this instance, have signed with both hands for the guillotine."
In the meantime the individual most nearly concerned was taking refreshment and chatting easily with those around him ; but he neither addressed nor even looked at his wife, who sat at a little distance, weeping bitterly.
Two hours and a half had elapsed, when the door leading to the jury-chamber swung open, and the twelve re-entered, the foreman carrying a large scroll, which he handed to the President. There was no need to proclaim silence, when, placing his hand on his heart, the foreman began
"On my honour and my conscience, before God and men, our verdict, is "
" Stay, gentlemen," said the President ; " here is something irregular. You have not only to pronounce upon the principal charges, but also to answer ' Yes ' or 'No* to each of the aggravating circumstances. Have the goodness to retire and do this."
It took some little time to rectify this informality, and then the jury once more made their appearance. The twenty-eight chief questions were for the most part supplemented by other questions, each requiring a separate answer, such as :
" During the night ?"
" With premeditation ?"
" On the public highway ?" And like questions.
In all there proved to be sixty-seven affirmative and seventeen negative answers the former embracing all the material charges.
The effect of this complicated verdict was the conviction of both prisoners, with (by a majority) extenuating circumstances in favour of the woman.
For the first time during the proceedings, Dumollard's coolness seemed to desert him. His countenance became perfectly livid ; his eyes glared wildly round. At this moment, perhaps, the full horror of his position first revealed itself to his stubborn intelligence. There occurred, too, one of those dramatic pauses which give time for a scene of peculiar interest and solemnity to impress itself ineffaceably on the memory. Throughout the dimly-lighted court nothing was to be seen but bowed heads or stern still faces, waiting for the word of doom ; not without a sense of that humiliation which even in the very act of justice confesses with reluctance the possibility of guilt so monstrous in the human form. Hunger makes the wolf savage, " yet with his kind he gently doth consort." Here was a man who, to pamper the lowest passions of which nature is susceptible, had literally waded in the blood of the most helpless and innocent of his kind.
It was the voice of the Procureur- General that broke the hush, praying the court to grant the application of certain articles of the penal code. The prisoners, called upon to add what they pleased to their defence, made no reply.
Then the President, after reading the articles applicable to the case, pronounced the fatal judgment. Martin Dumollard to the pain of death, the execution to take place at Montluel ; Marianne Dumollard to twenty years' imprisonment and hard labour.
That night the condemned murderer slept tranquilly, though for the preceding four his rest had been broken by convulsive tossings to and fro.
" Well, Dumollard, how goes it ?" said his advocate, entering his. cell next morning.
" As one who expects to die," was the answer,
" It remains then to make a good end ; let that be the first expiation of your crimes."
Neither to such exhortations, nor to the earnest counsels of the excellent Abbe Beroud, vicar of Bourg, who paid him many visits, did the unhappy wretch give any heed.
" I shall do nothing with him," said the good priest, mournfully. " The mind is too coarse and brutified. It is not with him as with others, where darkness and light are at least mingled in the soul. Here it is one profound obscurity."
Nevertheless, he did not relax his efforts ; and, as Dumollard exercised his right of appeal to the Court of Cassation, opportunity was not wanting.
Dumollard's cell was shared by four or five others, condemned to different terms of imprisonment. These sometimes flattered him with hopes of success in his appeal.
" In twenty days," he answered, " I shall either lose my head, or be set at liberty ; but I would rather die than be sent to Cayenne or even kept in prison."
This speech betrayed two misapprehensions on the criminal's part. One, that a certain time .must elapse before the execution of a capital sentence, whereas the law assigns none ; the other, that a favourable decision of the Appeal Court ends all proceedings, and sets a prisoner free. Whereas it merely remits the case to a new jury.
On the 27th of February his appeal was rejected ; the report being accompanied by that recommendation to mercy without which no capital sentence in France is carried into execution.
The report was then submitted to the minister and to the Emperor, who wrote upon it, " 11 ny a lieu " there is no room (i.e. for pardon) and the magistrates and officials of Montluel received orders to execute the sentence within twenty -four hours. The executioner of Grenoble was directed to assist his colleague of Lyons.
On Friday evening, the 7th of March, the guillotine was taken from the vaults below the Palais de Justice, placed upon an immense car, and transported to Montluel: whither a large detachment of Lancers had already proceeded, to preserve order among the immense multitudes that came flocking from every part of the country. At four o'clock that same evening, the criminal received intimation that he was to die on the morrow. He turned deadly pale; but soon recovered his habitual indifference, and only replied that it was what he had expected. His confessor was then introduced, and remained with him half an hour. About to leave, he suggested to the condemned man that the time had arrived when, if ever, he should exchange forgiveness and reconciliation with his wife, offering at the same time to obtain permission for his release from irons.
Dumollard assented, and the interview took place immediately the male prisoner remaining calm and unmoved as ever the woman deeply agitated. After this, the two sat down to partake of their last meal together : an abundant supper, provided at the cost of the good priest, who, though it was fast day, permitted them, " in the present conjuncture of circumstances," to eat what they pleased. Of this license Dumollard (again like Bush) availed himself to the utmost limit of human appetite. Beef, pork, cutlets, and especially puddings, disappeared under his efforts with a rapidity that struck with amazement the spectators of that gloomy feast. He seemed to consider the time too precious to be wasted in conversation ; but, nevertheless, found opportunity now and then to address a word of comfort to his wife, whose sobs interrupted the repast.
" Patience, patience ; you are fretting about me ; but it is a waste of grief; you see /don't care. As for you, you have to remain twenty years in prison. Be careful of the little money I shall leave you. Take some wine now and then. But mind ! on your liberation, do not go back to Dagneux, where your family would not welcome you. Eemain at Dijon. By-the- bye," he added, as if an important idea had struck him ; " don't forget to reckon with Berthet she owes you for so many days' work ; that will be seventeen francs, less five sous."
At half-past ten at night, the vehicle which was to convey Dumollard to Montluel arrived at the prison. Embracing his wife for the last time, he quietly mounted, accompanied by his confessor, and escorted by two gendarmes.
" Hola !" said the criminal, who seemed to have a peculiar aversion to cold air. " This is very annoying. I am chilled to death."
" Here, pere Dumollard," said a good-natured gendarme, " by a lucky foresight I brought my blanket."
Once made comfortable, the prisoner seemed to desire nothing more. Through the whole length of that ghastly journey, his was the only unruffled spirit of the party. He conversed incessantly, but without effort or bravado, describing the localities, the distance from point to point of places mentioned at the trial, &c., &c., with a cool minuteness which, under the circumstances, and with the accompaniment of sickly moongleams, the howling March wind, and the dull rumble of the carriage that bore the culprit nearer and nearer to his doom, struck his companions with awe.
It was half-past one in the morning as they entered Chalamont, a mile or two short of Montluel, and here the crowd had become so dense as to create some difficulty in passing. Yells and execrations resounded on every side. Some women forced their way up to the vehicle, flashing their lanterns into the face of the criminal. The Abbe Beroud warmly remonstrated, rebuking their indecent curiosity, and exhorting them to be satisfied with the act of justice about to be done. Thus, through masses of living beings, miles in length, the cortege approached Montluel.
The scaffold had been erected during the night in the widest piece of public ground the Place Bourgeat and now stood ready, in the centre of a perfect forest of bayonets and drawn sabres. Beyond the military square every visible inch, from ground to chimney-top, was packed with living beings. How some of these points of vantage were gained at all, or how descended from, were questions only to be resolved by those who saw the process. We were informed that thousands had been content to pass the long chill night in these positions.
Dumollard had alighted at the town-hall, and was warming himself comfortably at the fire in the council-chamber. A magistrate present exhorted him to confess whatever remained upon his mind in reference to the crimes for which he was to suffer. The criminal made no other reply than :
" I am innocent. It is unlucky, but I am sacrificed for the guilt of others."
M. Carrel, the cure of Montluel, entered.
" Ah, good morning, M. Carrel !" said Dumollard. " I have heard much good of you. It was from your hands that, at sixteen, I received my first communion."
Some further futile efforts were made to induce him to confess. One singular answer was noted :
" If others have buried bodies in my vineyard, I am not responsible for that."
He was offered some refreshment, and took some coffee and Madeira ; after which the executioners were introduced, and the " toilette " commenced. The prisoner himself took off his blouse, and sat down.
His feet were tied, but not sufficiently to prevent his walking, and his arms secured. They then cut off his hair and the neck of his shirt. As the steel of the shears touched him, he gave a convulsive shudder, but quickly regained his self-command. One final effort to obtain confession, or at least admission of his guilt, met with the former result, and this extraordinary offender, persevering to the last in his war with justice and society, marched forth to his doom.
The shout that rent the air as he appeared might have been heard for miles. The silence that succeeded was the more appalling. Dumollard's lips moved as though in prayer. The priests bent forward, caught, and earnestly re-echoed the solitary accents :
" Jesus ! Marie ! Pray for me !"
He knelt for a moment on the lower steps of the scaffold, and the Abbe Beroud offered to his white lips the symbol of divine mercy. Then the executioners helped him up the remaining steps, tied him to the plank, pushed the latter to its place. Quick as lightning the axe descended, and in a few seconds head and body lay together in a rude coffin ; the body to be interred in an obscure nook of the cemetery at Montluel, the head to be sent to the phrenological professors at Lyons. There was scarcely time for a trace of blood to become visible. Never was the merciful death of the guillotine more skilfully administered. Never was death punishment more richly deserved, than by the French wolf, Dumollard.
"Judicial dramas; or The romance of French criminal law" by Henry D. Spicer