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Birth name: Marie Louise Victorine Groues
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - Put the body in a trunk and sent it to Nancy, France
Number of victims: 1 +
Date of murder: July 21, 1920
Date of birth: October 24, 1868
Victim profile: Charles Bessarabo (her husband)
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Paris, France
Status: Sentenced to 20 years in prison in February 1921. Died in 1930

Bessarabo, Mme

On March 5 1914 Paul Jacques was found dead with a revolver at his feet. Suicide was the official verdict but the police were suspicious, even so they had no evidence to support any other theory so it had to be accepted.

Hera Bessarabo who was the daughter of a wealthy French businessman went on to remarry but on 30 July 1920 they had a serious argument during which Hera shot her husband. With the aid of her daughter they put the body in a trunk and sent it to Nancy.

When the body was found and examined it was revealed that the body had also been beaten badly around the head. Both mother and daughter were arrested and charged. It came to light that the mother had been taking drugs and had been entertaining several young men.

Hera at first confessed but later retracted the statement. As Paule had helped her mother dispose of the body she was also charged with murder but in order to save herself Paule made a detailed statement to the police in which she implicated her mother. At the trial in February 1921 she was acquitted while her mother was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

Michael Newton - An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers - Hunting Humans


Hera Mirtel

French homicide, the killer of several lovers and husbands, a nymphomaniac and drug addict. The daughter of a silk merchant, Marie was convent educated. She went to work for her dad's failing firm, traveling to Mexico in 1892. While there, she had dramatic love affairs; one lover reportedly killed himself over her rejection. At one time, a lover was found dead at her feat, allegedly shot to death by bandits as she hysterically sobbed.

Marie met Paul Jacques in Mexico City. He was twice her age and a wealthy silk merchant with a thriving business in Mexico and Europe, servants and a lifestyle of ease. They married and moved to Paris where their daughter Pauline was born in 1904. Marie formed a salon, a literary circle where she could share her writings of romantic stories and poetry. Under the nom de plume of Hera Myrtel, she penned a romantic novel that had some success and she was commissioned to publish more. She took many lovers, which her husband meekly accepted as she bullied and dominated him for 20 years.

Her literary pretensions left Marie little time for her husband and child, and she began to press him for a trip to Mexico, where she felt that she would be acclaimed as an authoress. He refused. One evening in January 1914, she ordered the maid to take a tureen of soup to her husband, who was working late in his study. The maid saw her slip a white powder in the soup and said to her master, "I hope you like the flavoring that Madame put into your soup." Paul did not eat the soup, but had a portion of it analyzed by a chemist; it contained a lethal poison. Not wanting a scandal, he foolishly considered that it was a temporary act of pique by his wife. He admitted to friends that he "would never understand the dark corners of her mind."

On the evening of 3/05/1914, the maid was summoned to Marie's bedroom. Her husband, Paul, was dead, shot in the right temple. It was declared to be a suicide.

In mourning, Marie made her long-wanted trip to Mexico, taking Pauline with her. A rich dilettante once she liquidated her husband's Mexican assets, she billed herself as a "mystical novelist," establishing a salon peopled by sycophants. Soon she met a mysterious, handsome man named Charles Bessarabo, a Rumanian of dubious interests with a possible criminal background. He proposed marriage to the aging and vain Marie. She promptly accepted, and the couple returned to Paris in 1916. They moved into luxurious quarters where Marie set up a new literary salon, inviting any males into private conference whom she chose, driven by outstanding sexual energy. For years she indulged in drugs, becoming particularly fond of hashish.

Once more, she dominated and cuckolded her husband. If he put up any objection to her extravagance or sexual indulgence, she turned on him in fury. Once in 1918, he awoke to find her on top of him, wild-eyed, trying to choke him to death. He flung her off and she wept, "I don't know what came over me."

On 7/08/1920, when Bessarabo arrived home for dinner, he found her scantily clad and preparing for an "interview" with a male writer. She grabbed a pistol and yelled at him to get out. He dove for the floor as a bullet whistled over his head. Marie threw down the gun and calmly went to her dinner. When Bessarabo told her he could no longer tolerate their life together, she replied that if he left, she would expose his shady business dealings.

On 7/31/1920, c. 8:00 PM, Marie shot Bessarabo to death, put his body in a trunk and sent it to Nancy, France. When he failed to show up at work, his chauffeur went to the police, relating what he knew of his employer's marital problems. Marie insisted that he had gone away to visit his (alleged) mistress and that he had taken the large trunk.

The trunk was soon located and found to contain a naked corpse, shot and with a battered head and face. Confronted with the evidence, Marie promptly confessed to shooting Bessarabo, saying that she had been jealous of his mistress. Their daughter had been wakened by the shots and stood by her mother.

Both Marie and Pauline were place on trial for murder on 2/15/1921. The trial was sensational. At one point, Pauline leaped to her feet and screamed "I must and will tell the truth." She laid the blame at her mother's feet as Marie shouted at her to shut up.

Pauline was set free but Marie was convicted of murder and given 20 years prison, where she died.


  • Work : New Job 1892 (Moved to Mexico for dad's firm)

  • Family : Change in family responsibilities 1904 (Daughter Pauline born)

  • Crime : Assault/ Battery Perpetration January 1914 (Attempted to poison first husband)

  • Death of Mate 5 March 1914 (Husband shot-killed, listed as suicide, probable homicide)

  • Family : Change residence 1916 (Moved back to Paris with second husband)

  • Crime : Assault/ Battery Perpetration 1918 (Tried to strangle to death second husband)

  • Crime : Assault/ Battery Perpetration 8 July 1920 (Shot at husband, attempted to kill him)

  • Crime : Homicide Perpetration 31 July 1920 at 08:00 AM in Paris, France (Shot and killed Charles)

  • Crime : Trial dates 15 February 1921 (She and daughter on trial for murder)


Hera Bessarabo



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