Jeanne Weber (aka The Ogress) was a French Serial Killer. She was actively killing between 1905-1908, in which time she is known to have murdered at least 10 children, including some of her own!
Born into a poor family, in France on October 7th 1874, Weber grew up in a small fishing village in Kérity, France. Not much is known about her family or her childhood, but it is well documented that she left the family home, in the hopes of finding herself a husband, when she was 14 years old.
In order to support herself, Weber undertook several humdrum jobs up until she married her first husband in 1893. Unfortunately her choice of husband was unfavourable. He was an alcoholic and it wasn’t long before Weber was hooked on the bottle too. The pair had 3 children together, two of which died in 1905.
Reports suggest that in 1905, Weber, her husband and their sole surviving child, Marcel, (who was 7 at the time) were living in a run-down, dilapidated, Paris tenement.
Weber committed her first murder on March 2nd 1905. She had agreed to babysit her young nieces as a favour for her sister-in-law. Whilst under Weber’s care, one of the girls, 18 month old Georgette, became swiftly unwell and died. The post mortem examination revealed bruises on the infants neck but for whatever reason, the examining physician paid them no heed and failed to determine Georgette’s death as murder.
Literally 9 days later, on 11th March 1905, Weber was back babysitting her sister-in-law’s remaining daughter, a two-year-old toddler named Suzanne. (Georgette’s older sibling) Sadly, Suzanne became Weber’s 2nd victim and after another botched post-mortem, the youngster’s cause of was recorded as “unexplained convulsions.”
Undeterred by Weber’s sudden “bad luck” with childminding, her brother allowed Weber to babysit for his daughter -seven-year-old Germaine, on 25th March 1905. Later that day, Germaine was found with red marks around her throat but appeared well regardless. Weber claimed the child had suffered a choking fit. The following day, whilst Weber babysat her again, Germaine died. Doctors declared her cause of death to be diphtheria.
Four days later, Weber’s own son, Marcel was also found dead. Diphtheria was determined to be the cause. However, both Marcel and Germaine had clear tell tale marks and bruising around their necks that indicated they had been strangled, but again, shockingly, this was over looked by the examining physician.
On April 5th 1905, Weber invited her 2 sister-in-laws and 10-year-old nephew, Maurice, over for dinner. She offered to look after Maurice whilst the other women went shopping. Upon their return, which was earlier than Weber had anticipated, they discovered Weber standing menacingly over Maurice as he lay on the bed gasping for air. He had the same mottled bruising around his neck as her other victims had. It was clear she had been trying to kill him.
Weber was arrested and charged with 8 murders in total. Her own three children as well as Georgette, Suzanne, Germaine, and two other children who had died whist in Weber’s care – Lucie Aleandre and Marcel Poyatos. She was dubbed by the media as the “Ogress of the Goutte-d’Or Street,” It was suggested by the prosecution that Weber killed her son, Marcel, to deflect any suspicion from her during her killing spree. Her defence, unsurprisingly claimed she was innocent of any wrong doing.
Weber’s defence team was lead by Henri-Robert, an acclaimed lawyer for his time. His lead witness was a prominent forensic scientist – Dr. Leon Henry Thoinot, who, from orders of the presiding judge – Judge Leydet, had conducted a second autopsy on some of the dead children. Thoinot testified the children had died from natural causes. Coupled with an impassioned closing statement, Robert successfully convinced the Jury that Weber was a grieving mother who had been cruelly accused of unmentionable atrocities. Weber was acquitted of all charges on February 1906.
Despite being released and cleared of all charges, Weber still faced the persecution from the public. They didn’t believe in her innocence and neither did her husband, who left her shortly after the trial ended.
Henri-Robert came to Weber’s rescue once again in May 1907 only this time she was using the alias “Madame Moulinet,”…
The month before, she had taken up employment in Chambon, France, for the Bavouzet household. The family were peasants and living in squalor but Weber, who was homeless and broke, had little other choice than to stay with them. Whilst her employer, 55 year old widower, Sylvain Bavouzet, was at work, Weber was in charge of minding his 3 children – 16 year old Germaine, 11 year old Louise and 9 year old Auguste Bavouzet.
On April 7th 1907 the local doctor, Dr. Papazoglou, was summoned to the Bavouzet household where he discovered the young boy in bed, deceased, with the all too familiar bruising around his neck. Dr. Papazoglou recognised at once the tell tale signs of strangulation – bruising around the neck. He reported his suspicions but astonishingly a forensic examination conducted by Dr Charles Audiat concluded that the boy likely died from meningitis.
A few days later, Bavouzet’s daughter Germain “stumbled” across a copy of “Le Petit Journal” in amongst Weber’s belongings and instantly recognised Madame Moulinet (Weber) as the lady dubbed “Ogress of the Goutte-d’Or Street” in the article. With her real identity now outed, forensic doctor – Dr. Bruneau was ordered to conduct another autopsy. His findings indicated Auguste Bavouzet was strangled, possibly with a tourniquet of some kind. (such as a handkerchief or scarf.) Weber was arrested.
So in mid 1907, Weber once again stood trial for murder but the charges were soon dropped when a second autopsy was performed by Dr. Leon Henry Thoinot, the same pathologist who carried out the examination in Weber’s first trial. He declared typhoid was the cause of Auguste Bavouzet’s death.
Examining Magistrate Belleau was convinced Weber was guilty but in light of Thoinot’s results he decided to drop the all charges. Weber was once again a free woman!
It is speculated that Henri-Robert and Thoinot covered up the real cause (strangulation) in order to protect their reputations, after all it was their expertise which led to Weber’s acquittal in the first trial, how would it have looked if it came out she was guilty after all!?!
Wanting to distance herself from the stigma attached to her name, Weber left Paris and, using the alias “Marie Lemoine,” she found employment in a children’s hospital in Faucombault, France, where, although not documented, it is very plausible more children perished from her deadly deeds.
Weber / Marie Lemoine eventually settled in Orgeville, France, where she worked with friends at a children’s home. Less than a week into the job she was caught strangling one of the children. Rather than reporting her to the police, the owners instantly dismissed Weber and covered up the incident so as to protect the reputation of the home. Weber slipped away and returned to Paris.
Not long after her return to Paris, Weber was arrested again, this time for vagrancy, and was interred at an asylum in Nanterre, France. Whilst there her sanity was assessed and she was freed. Upon her release she dabbled in prostitution until she entered into a relationship with a man, Emile Bouchery, who was to become her common law husband.
On May 8th 1908, the couple moved into an Inn in Commercy, France. But in true Weber fashion, it wasn’t long before she was back to her old behaviour. The Innkeeper discovered Weber strangling his 10 year old son, Marcel Poirot. She had wrapped a bloody handkerchief around his neck and was pulling it so tightly that the child bit through his tongue. His father had to punch her in the face three times before she released the Marcel’s lifeless body. Police discovered a letter in Weber’s pocket written by Henri-Robert and once again her real identity and past, was discovered.
For a third time, Weber found herself standing trial for murder but on this occasion defence lawyer, Henri-Robert, was unable to save her freedom. She was declared insane and sent to an insane asylum in Mareville, France.
Jeanne Weber spent ten years at the asylum until she took her own life, on July 5 1918, the only way she knew how – manual strangulation.
Jeanne Weber is known to have had 10 victims but it is widely accepted that the real number is likely to be much higher.