Hidden for 100 years, the untold story of a serial killer who hunted lonely war widows

The horror of Landru (photographed in the court) fascinated the French public, with celebrities competing for a ticket to his trial and mass hysteria about the mysterious death of his victims

The horror of Landru (photographed in the court) fascinated the French public, with celebrities competing for a ticket to his trial and mass hysteria about the mysterious death of his victims

The story of one of the most notorious serial killers in criminal history has been excavated after being buried in the police archive in the past century.

As the nation recovered from a war, Henri Désiré Landru unleashed a deadly drive and haunted women through ads in solitary hearts before luring them to two country houses outside of Paris where he mercilessly murdered them.

In 1914, Landru placed a singles advertisement in the Parisian newspapers with a plan to entice a wealthy respondent to redeem her from her fortune and kill her.

Over the next five years he went on a party that claimed the lives of 10 women, a young boy, and two dogs – later earning him the nickname "real Bluebeard".

French detectives concluded that during and after the First World War Landru had had romantic contact with 283 women, but the official number of his victims was almost certainly too low.

It is thought that he has mutilated their bodies with a handsaw, burned the pieces in his stove and dumped the ashes in his garden.

But bodies were never found, and the only forensic evidence was charred bone remnants under a pile of leaves and burnt scraps of women's clothing.

When the police finally overtook him in an apartment at the Gare du Nord in Paris on April 12, 1919, they found the 50-year-old with a mistress who was half the age in a room full of rubbish, including a bust of Beethoven and a bundle of romantic poetry.

The horror unleashed by Landru elicited the French public and even led one newspaper to speculate that the entire story was invented by the government to divert attention from the peace talks in 1919.

Celebrities fought to get special passes for the Landru process in Versailles in November 1921, including the novelist Colette, the singer Maurice Chevalier, and Rudyard Kipling, who traveled through Paris to earn an honorary doctorate.

Now a new book reveals the untold story of the murderous female hater, the judge who is the ten missing fiancée of Landru as 'foolish, weak and naive'. taunted, and the female relatives and friends of his victims who fought to send the killer to the guillotine.

The courtroom: Mistinguett, the Queen of French music theater, was obsessed with Landru and pretended to report on the lawsuit for an English newspaper. Other celebrities who came to watch were Maurice Chevalier and the film star Sacha Guitry

The courtroom: Mistinguett, the Queen of French music theater, was obsessed with Landru and pretended to report on the lawsuit for an English newspaper. Other celebrities who came to watch were Maurice Chevalier and the film star Sacha Guitry

The courtroom: Mistinguett, the Queen of French music theater, was obsessed with Landru and pretended to report on the lawsuit for an English newspaper. Other celebrities who came to watch were Maurice Chevalier and the film star Sacha Guitry

Landru, guarded by two officers in the waiting room under the courtroom, waiting for his fate

Landru, guarded by two officers in the waiting room under the courtroom, waiting for his fate

Landru, guarded by two officers in the waiting room under the courtroom, waiting for his fate

Jeanne Cuchet refused to reveal why she returned to her fiancée after discovering that he was an impostor

Jeanne Cuchet refused to reveal why she returned to her fiancée after discovering that he was an impostor

Jeanne & # 39; s beloved only son André, who disappeared with her at the beginning of 1915

Jeanne & # 39; s beloved only son André, who disappeared with her at the beginning of 1915

Jeanne Cuchet, on the left, refused to reveal why she returned to her fiancée after discovering that he was a deceiver. Precisely, Jeanne & # 39; s beloved only son André, who disappeared with her in 1915. & # 39; I could not supervise the boy, & # 39; Landru remembered.

April 17, 1919: Five days after his arrest Landru poses for a photograph in the city prison in Mantes. He liked his cell & # 39; pleasant & # 39; and hated his transfer to the Santé prison in Paris

April 17, 1919: Five days after his arrest Landru poses for a photograph in the city prison in Mantes. He liked his cell & # 39; pleasant & # 39; and hated his transfer to the Santé prison in Paris

April 17, 1919: Five days after his arrest Landru poses for a photograph in the city prison in Mantes. He liked his cell & # 39; pleasant & # 39; and hated his transfer to the Santé prison in Paris

An evening at the Opéra-Comique, 1918: Landru and his mistress Fernande Segret pose for a memento of the music before going to their favorite Parisian theater

An evening at the Opéra-Comique, 1918: Landru and his mistress Fernande Segret pose for a memento of the music before going to their favorite Parisian theater

An evening at the Opéra-Comique, 1918: Landru and his mistress Fernande Segret pose for a memento of the music before going to their favorite Parisian theater

Juliette Auger, described as & # 39; ordinary and shy & # 39 ;, took a step up and landraised & # 39; Landru & # 39; on the witness stand while she tried to try him

Juliette Auger, described as & # 39; ordinary and shy & # 39 ;, took a step up and landraised & # 39; Landru & # 39; on the witness stand while she tried to try him

Juliette Auger, described as & # 39; ordinary and shy & # 39 ;, took a step up and landraised & # 39; Landru & # 39; on the witness stand while she tried to try him

Landru was convicted in November 1921 for eleven murders and was executed by guillotine on February 25, 1922.

The true story of & # 39; l & # 39; affair Landru & # 39 ;, buried for 100 years in the archives of the police in Paris, is now told in the book Landru & # 39; s Secret, by Richard Tomlinson.

Tomlinson relies on more than 5,000 pages of original case documents, including witness statements, police reports and private correspondence, to reveal for the first time how Landru killed more than 10 victims on the cost record and the police at least 72 of the women with whom he has contacted.

The author also reveals how the authorities ignored the main victim, who explained why the murders began and how Landru did not kill for money, but to enjoy his power over what he called the & # 39; weak sex & # 39; called.

Tomlinson also invites readers to the courtroom where France's largest lawyer was focused on rescuing his client from the death sentence.

November 30, 1921: Landru waits in a cell under the court while the jury decides his fate. "On the minds of my family, I swear I did not kill anyone," he told officers

November 30, 1921: Landru waits in a cell under the court while the jury decides his fate. "On the minds of my family, I swear I did not kill anyone," he told officers

November 30, 1921: Landru waits in a cell under the court while the jury decides his fate. & # 39; On the minds of my family, I swear I did not kill anybody & # 39 ;, he told officers

In his trial, Landru was a showstopper & # 39 ;, while he protested against his innocence and the & # 39; elegant ladies & # 39; mocked in the audience.

In his trial, Landru was a showstopper & # 39 ;, while he protested against his innocence and the & # 39; elegant ladies & # 39; mocked in the audience.

& # 39; The only thing I regret is that I only have one head to offer, & # 39; he went to court.

& # 39; The only thing I regret is that I only have one head to offer, & # 39; he went to court.

In his trial, Landru was a showstopper & # 39 ;, while he protested against his innocence and the & # 39; elegant ladies & # 39; mocked in the audience. & # 39; The only thing I regret is that I only have one head to offer, & # 39; he went to court

May 27, 1919: Paris, Palais de Justice. Landru, handcuffed to his prison escort, is led away after his first interrogation. "It is up to you to prove the acts of which I am being accused," he sneered

May 27, 1919: Paris, Palais de Justice. Landru, handcuffed to his prison escort, is led away after his first interrogation. "It is up to you to prove the acts of which I am being accused," he sneered

May 27, 1919: Paris, Palais de Justice. Landru, handcuffed to his prison escort, is led away after his first interrogation. & # 39; It is up to you to prove the acts of which I am accused, & # 39; he sneered

According to Tomlinson, Landru was a & # 39; showstopper & # 39; when he protested against his innocence and the & # 39; elegant ladies & # 39; mocked in the audience.

& # 39; The only thing I regret is that I only have one head to offer, & # 39; he went to court.

Landru preferred to approach the public prosecutor, the judge and the general jury with one question. Your proofs, messengers, where are your evidences? & # 39; he demanded time and again, wagging his finger upwards. & # 39;

But more than just a murderous quarrel, writes Tomlinson, this is also the story of "the women who brought Landru to justice in the hope of some revenge."

The female relatives and friends of his victims trace him and confront him in court, determined to send the killer of their loved ones to the guillotine.

Vincent de Moro Giafferri, Landru's lawyer, eagerly awaits his exciting final word

Vincent de Moro Giafferri, Landru's lawyer, eagerly awaits his exciting final word

Vincent de Moro Giafferri, Landru's lawyer, eagerly awaits his exciting final word

The Lodge in Vernouillet, 35 kilometers northwest of Paris, which Landru rented in Jeanne Cuchet's name in December 1914. The pavilion (left) connected to the main villa (middle), while the neighbors lived in the white house (right)

The Lodge in Vernouillet, 35 kilometers northwest of Paris, which Landru rented in Jeanne Cuchet's name in December 1914. The pavilion (left) connected to the main villa (middle), while the neighbors lived in the white house (right)

The Lodge in Vernouillet, 35 kilometers northwest of Paris, which Landru rented in Jeanne Cuchet's name in December 1914. The pavilion (left) connected to the main villa (middle), while the neighbors lived in the white house (right)

Witnesses in the case of Henri Landru examine her and other items that can be found at his home

Witnesses in the case of Henri Landru examine her and other items that can be found at his home

Witnesses in the case of Henri Landru examine her and other items that can be found at his home

April 15, 1919: the investigating magistrate Gabriel Bonin (fifth from the left) inspects forensic monsters from the backyard of The Lodge. Bonin mistakenly thought it would only take a few days to solve the case

April 15, 1919: the investigating magistrate Gabriel Bonin (fifth from the left) inspects forensic monsters from the backyard of The Lodge. Bonin mistakenly thought it would only take a few days to solve the case

April 15, 1919: the investigating magistrate Gabriel Bonin (fifth from the left) inspects forensic monsters from the backyard of The Lodge. Bonin mistakenly thought it would only take a few days to solve the case

Tomlinson writes: & # 39; In the beginning, Landru was the hunter, generally stripped of eligible men in a wartime Paris.

& # 39; He has hunted women through ads in solitary hearts and matrimonial agencies, on trams, buses and subways, in public parks and at the apartments and houses he rented in the city and in the countryside nearby .

"When women became his pursuers, Landru still had the advantage of being a man. Paris detectives and village officials, cobblers, coachmen and shopkeepers all refused to inquire about this promiscuous monsieur who, in his words, was entitled to a wall & # 39; around his private life.

"Landru clung to all his supposed rights to women in his trial, safe in the knowledge that the men in court are opinions about the & # 39; weak sex & # 39; shared. The judge despised Landru's ten missing fiancés as foolish, weak, rowdy, ignorant and naive.

The newspapers regretted the presence of women in the audience and joked about the concierges, seamstresses, prostitutes and gossip from the village who testified against Landru.

& # 39; As far as Landru is concerned, he could hardly worry about it & # 39; cackling of these female prosecutors. They could not be trusted, explained Landru, precisely because they were women.

& # 39; There was a solution to the puzzle, hidden amid 7,000 pages of case documents, of which only a fraction was seen by the prosecutor and defense at the Landru lawsuit. Buried in this enormous repository of witness statements, interrogation and forensic reports was a more disturbing story. & # 39;

Annette Pascal found her fiancée almost as frightening as the German bombing of Paris. & # 39; Worry & # 39 ;, Annette wrote to her sister the day she disappeared in Gambais

Annette Pascal found her fiancée almost as frightening as the German bombing of Paris. & # 39; Worry & # 39 ;, Annette wrote to her sister the day she disappeared in Gambais

Annette Pascal found her fiancée almost as frightening as the German bombing of Paris. & # 39; Be very worried, & # 39; Annette wrote to her sister the day she disappeared in Gambais

November 30, 1921: the jurors - described as, & # 39; mostly petits bourgeois, with only one timid, mustachioed laborer among them & # 39; - smile at the camera while waiting to get their verdicts in the urn

November 30, 1921: the jurors - described as, & # 39; mostly petits bourgeois, with only one timid, mustachioed laborer among them & # 39; - smile at the camera while waiting to get their verdicts in the urn

November 30, 1921: the jurors – described as, & # 39; mostly petits bourgeois, with only one timid, mustachioed laborer among them & # 39; – smile at the camera while waiting to get their verdicts in the urn

Jeanne Cuchet & # 39; s friend Louise Bazire looks back at Landru while the jury listens to the judge. Uncomfortable for the persecution, Mme Bazire stressed that Jeanne was poor

Jeanne Cuchet & # 39; s friend Louise Bazire looks back at Landru while the jury listens to the judge. Uncomfortable for the persecution, Mme Bazire stressed that Jeanne was poor

Jeanne Cuchet & # 39; s friend Louise Bazire looks back at Landru while the jury listens to the judge. Uncomfortable for the persecution, Mme Bazire stressed that Jeanne was poor

The sister of Célestine Buisson, Marie Lacoste, the best detective in the case, looks at Landru. Without her, Landru may never have been arrested

The sister of Célestine Buisson, Marie Lacoste, the best detective in the case, looks at Landru. Without her, Landru may never have been arrested

The sister of Célestine Buisson, Marie Lacoste, the best detective in the case, looks at Landru. Without her, Landru may never have been arrested

And then came Annette Pascal's niece Marie-Jeanne, dressed to assassinate the humiliating Landru. "The monsieur was so soft in bed with my aunt," she taunts him

And then came Annette Pascal's niece Marie-Jeanne, dressed to assassinate the humiliating Landru. "The monsieur was so soft in bed with my aunt," she taunts him

And then came Annette Pascal's niece Marie-Jeanne, dressed to assassinate the humiliating Landru. & # 39; The monsieur lay so softly in bed with my aunt, & # 39; she teased him

11 May 1919: L & # 39; Étang des Bruyères, near Gambais. The detectives Dautel (left, half hidden) and Belin listen to Mrs Mauguin describe what she saw floating on the water. Her evidence did not fit into the Plaintiff's case

11 May 1919: L & # 39; Étang des Bruyères, near Gambais. The detectives Dautel (left, half hidden) and Belin listen to Mrs Mauguin describe what she saw floating on the water. Her evidence did not fit into the Plaintiff's case

11 May 1919: L & # 39; Étang des Bruyères, near Gambais. The detectives Dautel (left, half hidden) and Belin listen to Mrs Mauguin describe what she saw floating on the water. Her evidence did not fit into the Plaintiff's case

Flirty Andrée Babelay, only 19 when Landru saw her one night in the Paris metro. "He is my father but I call him" Lulu & # 39 ;, "Andrée told villagers in Gambais

Flirty Andrée Babelay, only 19 when Landru saw her one night in the Paris metro. "He is my father but I call him" Lulu & # 39 ;, "Andrée told villagers in Gambais

Célestine Buisson, domestic and naive, who disappeared in Gambais in August 1917. "If I take a man, it is to cherish him," she told her monsieur

Célestine Buisson, domestic and naive, who disappeared in Gambais in August 1917. "If I take a man, it is to cherish him," she told her monsieur

Left, Flirty Andrée Babelay, only 19 when Landru saw her one evening on the Paris metro. & # 39; He is my father, but I call him & # 39; Lulu & # 39 ;, & # 39; Andrée told villagers in Gambais. Right: Célestine Buisson, domestic and naive, who disappeared in Gambais in August 1917. & # 39; If I take a man, it is to cherish him, & # 39; she said to her monsieur

Spectators during the trial against Landru, kept in order by a soldier from Tank Corps

Spectators during the trial against Landru, kept in order by a soldier from Tank Corps

Spectators during the trial against Landru, kept in order by a soldier from Tank Corps

Advocate General Maitre Robert Godefroy, who gave his speech for the prosecution

Advocate General Maitre Robert Godefroy, who gave his speech for the prosecution

Advocate General Maitre Robert Godefroy, who gave his speech for the prosecution

Fernande Segret (deceased 21/01/1968) was an actress and fiancée of Landru. She is pictured here during the process

Fernande Segret (deceased 21/01/1968) was an actress and fiancée of Landru. She is pictured here during the process

Fernande Segret (deceased 21/01/1968) was an actress and fiancée of Landru. She is pictured here during the process

Celebrities fought to get special passes for the Landru process in Versailles in November 1921, including the novelist Colette, the singer Maurice Chevalier, and Rudyard Kipling, who traveled through Paris to obtain an honorary doctorate

Celebrities fought to get special passes for the Landru process in Versailles in November 1921, including the novelist Colette, the singer Maurice Chevalier, and Rudyard Kipling, who traveled through Paris to obtain an honorary doctorate

Celebrities fought to get special passes for the Landru process in Versailles in November 1921, including the novelist Colette, the singer Maurice Chevalier, and Rudyard Kipling, who traveled through Paris to obtain an honorary doctorate

Police search in the garden of Villa Henri Landru. Fragments of bone, a tooth and a partially burnt hairpin were found

Police search in the garden of Villa Henri Landru. Fragments of bone, a tooth and a partially burnt hairpin were found

Police search in the garden of Villa Henri Landru. Fragments of bone, a tooth and a partially burnt hairpin were found

The president of the Assize Court of Versailles M. Gilbert listens to the court during the trial against Henri Landru

The president of the Assize Court of Versailles M. Gilbert listens to the court during the trial against Henri Landru

The president of the Assize Court of Versailles M. Gilbert listens to the court during the trial against Henri Landru

Henri Landru posing in court for the photographer of the Daily Mail

Henri Landru posing in court for the photographer of the Daily Mail

Henri Landru posing in court for the photographer of the Daily Mail

Richard Tomlinson met Landru in the early 1980s when he was researching a French history, Ph.D. in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

He did not believe the prosecution case and has been exploring the Landru affair ever since.

  • You can buy his new book, Landru & # 39; s Secret, published by Pen and Sword, here

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