Poisoner - Robberies
Number of victims: 10 +
Date of murder: 1932 - 1936
Date of arrest:
Date of birth: 1877
Victim profile: Husband, male lover, and female
Method of murder:
Location: Liege, Belgium
Sentenced to life imprisonment in 1936. Died in prison in 1938
Becker, Marie Alexander
Born in 1877, Marie Becker spent
most of her adult life as a housewife in Liege, Belgium.
In 1932, when she was 55 years old,
she entered into a tempestuous affair with Lambert Beyer, a local
lothario several years her junior. Soon after their first meeting, in
a local grocery market, Becker poisoned her husband with digitalis and
began spending all her time with her lover. Romance paled as Beyer
failed to keep up with her pace, and Marie soon dispatched him, as
Bent on recapturing lost youth,
Becker became a fixture in the local nightclubs, performing wild
dances with men half her age, bribing a series of young lovers to
share her bed.
It all cost money she could ill
afford, and soon Maria opened a modest dress shop in Liege,
supplementing her income by robbing and poisoning elderly patrons.
Before her sideline was discovered,
it is estimated that she murdered ten, at least, obtaining minor sums
of cash from each.
A female friend was Becker's
undoing, running to Maria with complaints about her husband, declaring
that she wished the no-good rascal dead. Maria suggested digitalis,
offering a sample from her own supply, and after several days of
cooling off, her friend reported the discussion to the police. Maria
was arrested in October 1936, with tests revealing poison in the
bodies of her husband, Lambert Beyer, and a number of her female
At trial, she gloated over details
of the several deaths and drew a term of life imprisonment. She died
in jail, while World War II was underway.
Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of
Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans
(1877-1938) was a Belgian serial poisoner responsible for the deaths
of her husband, lover, and several elderly women who patronized the
dressmaking shop that she had opened.
Becker had been married
to a cabinetmaker and was seemingly bored and restrained in the
marriage. A chance meeting with a man named Lambert Beyer, a known
womanizer, opened up an insatiable sexual appetite in Mrs. Becker. Her
new experiences apparently gave her impetus to dispatch with her
staid, reliable husband. She implemented digitalis and used it to this
end. After boring of Beyer, she dispatched him in the same manner. She
took to dancing in clubs with her temporary lotharios and paying them
for various sexual services. She coldly informed a friend who was
looking to rid herself of her husband that "I can supply you with a
powder that will leave no trace". This woman went to the police and
Maria was arrested.
Marie Becker was known
to attend the funerals of her victims and to gesticulate wildly her
grief over their passing. She was convicted of murder and sentenced to
life in prison.
Mass poisoner Marie Alexandrine
Becker, born in 1877 and a native of Liege in Belgium, was fifty-three
years old and married to a cabinetmaker when she began an affair with
a man called Lambert Beyer - a notorious middle-aged womaniser. Though
Marie was outwardly a virtuous and proper housewife, she was secretly
bored with her husband. When Beyer propositioned her as she bought
vegetables at a street stall, she accepted his advances immediately.
The affair with him unlocked dark passions which
Marie had probably concealed for a long time. She hated the idea of
growing old and felt that her dull and unexciting husband stood in the
way of all the things she really wanted. The only way to recapture her
lost youth, she decided, was to murder him and start afresh. She gave
him a lethal dose of Digitalis, collected on his life insurance and
used the cash to open a smart dress shop. Later on, in November 1934 -
by which time he had presumably ceased to thrill her - she poisoned
Bayer with the same lethal drug.
He apparently left her money in his will - perhaps
he signed his own death warrant via this bequest because Marie's funds
were getting rather low. Her new lifestyle was expensive; it also
scandalised her neighbours. Becker's nights were spent in dance halls
and nightclubs, wildly cavorting with men half her age. She paid young
gigolos (toyboys) for sex. The dress shop was popular, but the income
it generated couldn’t keep pace with her expenses.
When an elderly friend, Marie Castadot, became ill
in early July 1935 - she'd experienced dizziness and nausea - the
kindly Widow Becker offered to take care of her. Unsurprisingly,
Castadot's condition worsened. By the 23rd day of July she was dead.
Marie Becker, who knew a thing or two about ruthless opportunism,
eagerly befriended other old ladies...all of them followed Madame
Castadot to the grave in the months that followed.
Becker had plainly decreed that nothing was more
important (or more sacred?) than her chosen lifestyle - not even human
life. Having run out of acquaintances, Marie turned to poisoning her
female customers with digitalis, dropping it in cups of tea in the
back of her shop as they discussed the latest fashions. When the drug
began to work, she would steal whatever money the patrons had and then
take the stricken women back to their own homes - where they'd die of
"unknown causes." Becker is definitely known to have committed at
least ten homicides, but it has been estimated that she actually
killed twice as many people before she was arrested
When a female friend sarcastically remarked that
her husband was aggravating her so much that she wished he would die,
the poisoner told her: "If you really mean that, I can supply you with
a powder that will leave no trace." The woman went to the police (who
had suspected Becker for some time - they'd received anonymous letters
which accused her of foul play). Marie was arrested; the bodies of her
husband, Beyer, and some of her friends and customers were exhumed.
Traces of the poison were
found. A search of her house revealed jewellery, clothes and personal
possessions belonging to the victims. The police also found at least
one bottle of digitalis. She was charged with murder.
Witnesses at Becker's trial related how the killer
had attended the funerals of her victims and dramatically feigned
grief. According to their accounts, she knelt at the gravesides and
wept hysterically...only to be seen shortly afterwards performing
erotic dances in Liege nightclubs and lavishly spending the stolen
money. Becker made no pretence of innocence. She gloated over the
murders and described, with arch disdain, the way her prey had died.
One of her victims, she said, "looked like an angel choked with
sauerkraut." Another she described as "dying beautifully, lying flat
on her back." Convicted, Marie Becker was sent to prison for life,
there being no death penalty in Belgium at that time. She died in
prison sometime during World War II.
Marie Alexandrine Becker
When she was 53 years old, Marie Becker, born and
bred in Liege, Belgium, overviewed her life and she concluded that it
was just an average one. She thought she had been playing the role of
good housewife for too long, but she didn't have much time left to
change this. So, she decided to get on with it and she started a
passionate affair with a certain Lambert Bayer. For a while, she was
happy with how things were going. They had to keep their relationship
quiet, and that was something that changed Becker's boring life into
an exciting one. After a while however, the affair also became common
and Becker got tired of seeing Bayer secretly. She started to think of
her husband as a burden. In the thirties it wasn't convenient to
divorce, so Becker had to think of another way to get rid of him. She
found the solution in an overdose of digitalis. After the standard
process of mourning, she could openly see Bayer.
Something that's forbidden attracts. As soon as the
forbidden becomes granted, it loses partly or fully its attraction.
That was also the case with Becker's tempestuous affair with her dream
lover. Just like a real dream, it quickly disappeared. But now, she
knew how to arrange similar unpleasant situations. November 1934,
Because of the two inheritances, Marie Becker
became a wealthy lady. She didn't intend to stash the fortune that
fell to her share, so she spent it on her personal pleasures. Her
friends and acquaintances were astonished to see her going out and
being surrounded by young, attractive men who could have been her
sons. Becker finally led the life she had always dreamed of.
But her fortune quickly shrunk. She had to find
some income; otherwise, her future would be as gray as her past had
been. She refused to go through such times again, even if human lives
had to be sacrificed. After making that decision, Becker started to
spend a lot of time on visiting friends. When Marie Castadot got sick
in July 1935 - she experienced some dizziness - Marie Becker offered
to take care of her. In spite of it, Castadot's physical condition
gradually got worse. She died July 23rd. After that, most of her
friends died, in a short period. Becker managed however to not once
October 1936, the police of Liege received some
anonymous letters, which accused Marie Becker of having poisoned two
elderly women. An investigation started, and the police discovered
some suspicious deaths. Becker's name showed up is most of the cases.
Each time, she had been the one who had taken care of the women in
their last hours. When Becker's house was searched, they found closets
full of clothes that belonged to the victims, and a large amount of
jewelry. Becker was taken in custody immediately. In her handbag, a
little green bottle was found. It turned out to be digitalis, a drug
used for heart diseases. Becker claimed the drug was for personal use,
but large doses have the same effect as lethal poison, a fact the
authorities were well aware of. Investigation of the bodies showed
they were all killed with lethal doses of digitalis.
Becker maintained she was innocent, even during her
trial, but the jury thought her guilt was well proven. She was
sentenced to death, but conforming to the Belgian law, her death
penalty was converted to a life sentence. She lived the rest of her
life behind bars.
SEX: F RACE: W TYPE: T MOTIVE: PC/CE
VENUE: Liege, Belgium
MO: Poisoned husband, male lover,
and female customers (who were also robbed).
DISPOSITION: Life sentence, 1936;
died in prison during World War II.
Marie Alexandrine Becker
Marie Alexandrine Becker at trial.