Juan Ignacio Blanco  


  MALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

  FEMALE murderers

index by country

index by name   A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z




Murderpedia has thousands of hours of work behind it. To keep creating new content, we kindly appreciate any donation you can give to help the Murderpedia project stay alive. We have many
plans and enthusiasm to keep expanding and making Murderpedia a better site, but we really
need your help for this. Thank you very much in advance.




Marguerite Jeanne STEINHEIL





Classification: Murderer?
Characteristics: French woman famous for her many love affairs with important men - Suspected of the murder of her husband and stepmother
Number of victims: 2 ?
Date of murder: May 31, 1908
Date of arrest: November 1908
Date of birth: April 16, 1869
Victim profile: Her stepmother, Emilie Japy, and her husband, Adolphe Steinheil
Method of murder: Choking on her false teeth / Strangulation
Location: Paris, France
Status: Acquitted on November 14, 1909. Died in London on July 17, 1954

photo gallery


STEINHEIL, Marguerite, French woman, central figure in a mysterious cause célèbre: b. Beaucourt, 16 April 1869. She came of a wealthy family named Japy and was married to Adolphe Steinheil, an artist. They lived in Paris, where Mme. Steinheil became prominent in a distinguished circle, including many of the most famous Parisian lights in politics, art and literature. She was on terms of intimacy with President Faure, and gossip connected here with his sudden death, but no proof was ever produced.

On the night of 30-31 May 1908 Mme. Steinheil's husband and her mother, Mme. Japy, were murdered and robbed and Mme. Steinheil herself was found bound and gagged upon a bed. She was later accused of committing the crime, but was acquitted after a sensational trial.

There were rumors of political complications, enhanced by a mysterious pearl necklace supposed to have been given her by President Faure. How much or little of truth was in the rumors and accusations rife at the time of the trial has never become known, and no light has ever been thrown upon the crime of which she was accused. After her acquittal she lived in England in retirement. Author of ‘My Memoirs’ (New York 1912).

The Encyclopedia Americana


Marguerite Jeanne "Meg" Japy Steinheil
, Lady Abinger (16 April 1869 – 17 July 1954) was a French woman famous for her many love affairs with important men. She became notorious when it became known that she was present at the death of President Félix Faure, who allegedly had a seizure while having sex with her. She was later suspected of the murder of her husband and stepmother.

Early life

Born Marguerite Jeanne Japy in Beaucourt, in the Territoire de Belfort, to a rich, industrial family, she married the well-known French painter Adolphe Steinheil in July 1890. She became a prominent figure in Parisian society, and her salon was frequented by men of eminence in French political and social circles, including Gounod, Ferdinand de Lesseps, René Lalique, Jules Massenet, François Coppée, Émile Zola, and Pierre Loti.

Mistress of President Felix Faure

In 1897, she was introduced, at Chamonix, to President Félix Faure, who was giving an official contract to Adolphe Steinheil. Because of this, Félix Faure came often to their home on the Impasse Ronsin.

Shortly afterward Marguerite became Félix Faure's mistress and was regularly ushered into the salon bleu in the private quarters of the presidential Palais de l'Élysée.

On 16 February 1899, Félix Faure called Marguerite by telephone, asking her to come to the palace at the end of the afternoon. Briefly after her arrival, servants were rung for and they found the president lying on the couch while Marguerite Steinheil adjusted her disordered clothing. Félix Faure died several hours later.

Legend has it that she was performing oral sex on him when he had a fit, and died, his convulsed hands tangled in her hair. Of course nothing of this was officially announced, but rumours started spreading immediately, although for several years it was believed that his partner at the time of his death was actress Cécile Sorel.

Femme du monde

After the death of Félix Faure, Marguerite Steinheil became the mistress of many famous men.

In her Mémoires, she records how she and her spouse received a mysterious German guest, who bought back from them each of the pearls of a collar given to her by Faure (le collier présidentiel, as it became known in the press) and who reclaimed a manuscript of the president's memoires which he had entrusted to Marguerite.

In February 1908, she met the powerful industrialist Borderel, also from the Ardennes, and soon became his lover.

L'affaire Steinheil

On 31 May 1908, Marguerite's stepmother and husband were found dead in their residence in the Impasse Ronsin, off the Rue de Vaugirard. Both had died of suffocation, the latter by strangling and the former by choking on her false teeth.

Marguerite was found gagged and bound to a bed. She initially said that she had been tied up by four black-robed strangers, three men and a woman. Some newspapers speculated that they had come to her house in search of certain secret documents which Faure had entrusted to her keeping, possibly relating to the Dreyfus affair.

The police immediately regarded her as a suspect in the killings but had no hard evidence and made a pretense of abandoning the investigation. But Steinheil herself would not let the affair rest. She made an attempt to frame her manservant, Rémy Couillard, by concealing a small pearl which she affirmed had been stolen at the time of the murder in a pocketbook belonging to Couillard; after that fabrication was discovered, she blamed Alexandre Wolff, the son of her old housekeeper, but he was able to establish an alibi.

She was arrested in November 1908 and taken to St. Lazare prison. The crime created a sensation in Paris. It was revealed that she had had a great number of admirers, including even King Sisowath of Cambodia. Opponents of the government tried to make political capital of the affair, the anti-Semitic Libre Parole even charging her with having poisoned President Faure. A sensational trial finally ended in her acquittal on 14 November 1909, although the judge called her stories "tissues of lies".

Later life

After the trial she came to live in London, where she was known as Mme de Serignac. She wrote My Memoirs in 1912. On 26 June 1917, she married Robert Brooke Campbell Scarlett, 6th Baron Abinger, who died in 1927. She lived at 24 Adelaide Crescent in Hove from that year and died in a nursing home in the town.


Fascinating Women: Marguerite Steinheil

By Evangeline Holland -

August 22, 2010

When Madame Marguerite Steinheil paid an illicit call on President Félix Faure at the Palais de l’Élysée, no one could have predicted a scandal–and a farce–beyond imagination. Had Mme. Steinheil been your average concerned French citizen, the afternoon appointment with the portly statesman would have aroused little attention save a mention of the woman’s attractiveness. But it was not to be, for within moments of Madame Steinheil’s entrance into President Faure’s office, the bell was rung for his servants, who quickly gathered around the dead body of their master and ruler while the fatale Madame Steinheil adjusted her clothing.

The death of President Faure at the, um, hands of Madame Steinheil came at a critical juncture in French history. Faure’s last years were mired in the Dreyfus Affair, anarchists bombings in Paris, the Fashoda Affair, and a Franco-Russian alliance. With this sort of stress, it is no wonder he found comfort in the arms of Marguerite, but she was even more complicated than diplomatic and domestic contretemps–and this was not the end of her scandalous and deadly reputation. Considering the course of Marguerite Steinheil’s life, it seems a bit ironic that she was born in Alsace two years before the Treaty of Frankfurt ripped it and Lorraine from French hands (these two departments were a source of much bitterness between France and Germany from 1871 until the end of WWII). From birth Marguerite, or Meg, as she was known, was headstrong and independent. Her family hoped she would settle down to become a proper French wife and mother when she married the much-older painter Adolphe Steinheil in 1890, but it was not to be. Meg reveled in her new freedom and began a salon in Paris.

From the start, Meg favored politicians and financiers, gathering around her such luminaries as Gounod, Ferdinand de Lesseps, Jules Massenet, François Coppée, Émile Zola, and Pierre Loti, and fancying herself a modern-day Madame de Pompadour in terms of influence. With this goal in mind she was determined to meet President Faure. Opportunity came knocking when her husband, whose talents were small, yet prolific, was given a contract by Faure in 1897. This of course gave the now-smitten President an excuse to pay her frequent visits. Meg was soon installed as Faure’s maitress-en-tete, but she held little real influence or power save what she thought in her head. After Faure’s sensational death, Meg moved on to other wealthy and powerful men, who, per her Memoirs, entrusted her with state secrets. Her most important lover was the powerful industrialist Borderel, whom she met in 1908.

But Meg’s bid for infamy was not over.

In May of that year, Meg’s husband and stepmother were found suffocated in their beds and Meg herself was bound and gagged to her bed. She claimed to have been tied up by four hooded strangers, and the public speculated (with her instigation no doubt) that her family had been murdered in an attempt to search the house for sensitive papers Faure had left in her care. From the start, the police just didn’t find the story believable. However, since they had no evidence with which to charge Meg, the case was dropped. Oddly enough, Meg would not let the case go and her attempt to frame two of her servants caused the police to arrest her for the murders.

The court case caused a sensation that rippled through Paris. Men thought Marguerite innocent, while the women thought her absolutely guilty. The prosecutors brought forth witnesses from her childhood to the present to recount every sin she’d ever committed, including the names of her numerous admirers. The courtroom was packed on every day of the trial and when Meg took the stand, the obsession with her case reached a fever pitch. Marguerite was a consummate actress, weeping, gnashing her teeth, and wailing about her innocence and her grief over the tragedy. No matter what angle the chief prosecutor came from, she stuck to her story, and after a strange man dressed in a red wig and black cloak made an appearance in court to testify breaking into the Steinheil home, the case was ruined. The jury deliberated for 2 1/2 hours and although the judge called her stories “tissues of lies”, they announced Marguerite’s acquittal on November 14, 1909. She promptly quit France for England, where she “wrote” My Memoirs (1912) and later wed the 6th Baron Abinger. Marguerite was widowed in 1927 and lived in England for the remainder of her life, dying in a Hove nursing home in 1954.


Felix Faure - a victim of Cupid in the Elysée Palace

By Clea Caulcutt - Rfi.rf

March 4, 2011

The ruby-cheeked cupid overlooking the silver drawing room in the Elysée Palace has witnessed history - some of it recorded, some of it not. In 1809, he saw a beaten and tired Napoleon sit down and sign his abdication. Almost a century later, he heard President Felix Faure die in the arms of his mistress Marguerite Steinheil and only he knows in exactly what circumstances the president breathed his last.

President Felix Faure had a clear idea of what it meant to be a president. At a time when European rulers looked down on the young republic, Faure sought to give his role some gravitas by adopting the ways of the monarchies.

He travelled in grand style, collected mistresses and changed attire several times a day.

“He took great care of his figure, changed his clothes three times a day,” says author and retired museum curator Georges Poisson.“He even wanted a presidential costume to be invented, with lots of embroidery, but as everybody made fun of him, it was never made.”

A handsome man, Faure also had a soft spot for the ladies.

In her memoirs, Steinheil recalls her secret rendezvous with the president in the silver drawing room to exercise her functions as his "psychological advisor", as she put it.

"A private detective dispatched by the president would accompany me to the Elysée Palace. I always entered through a little door overlooking the gardens. I crossed the ground floor, and reached the blue drawing room where the president was waiting for our work session,” writes Stenheil.

On that fateful day on 16 February 1899, Steinheil and Faure were alone in the drawing room, when the president’s aides heard screams. They rushed to the president’s rescue and found Steinheil shrieking as the president lay suffocating on the sofa.

Faure, who was later diagnosed with having suffered a cerebral haemorrhage, died that same evening. It was only a matter of hours before the whole of France was awash with rumours of the president dying in the arms of his mistress.

The left-wing political press at the time had a ball, explains French historian Anne-Claude Ambroise-Rendu, with accounts of Faure’s death full of cheeky innuendos.

“Felix Faure passed away in good health, indeed from the excess of good health,” wrote the French daily Gil Blas in February 1899.

“He was sacrificed on Venus’s altar, oat the limits of that official morality of which he was supposed to be the highest representative,” writes the libertarian Journal du Peuple.

The similarity in the French language between the word for undertakers and a sland word for oral sex was also a source of many jokes about Faure and his mistress. After his death, Steinheil was nicknamed la pompe funèbre (look it up!).

Historians today have yet to reach a definitive version of Faure’s final moments.

Poisson says it is clear that Faure and Steinheil, who was found half naked, were involved in some of sort of embrace.

“We have witness accounts from the general secretary of the Elysée at the time and the valet,” says Poisson. “The president was found with his hand clenched in her hair and the president’s aides hacked her hair with such clumsiness that her skull was cut.”

But historian Pierre Darmon thinks it’s unlikely he died while having sex with his mistress.

“It is almost certain that she was at the Elysée," he says. "But is very unlikely that his first convulsions were spasms of satisfaction.”

Eyewitness accounts indicate that the president was tired and nervous.

According to Darmon, if there was anyone on Faure’s mind at the time it wasn’t Steinheil, it was Dreyfus.

French artillery captain Alfred Dreyfus was wrongfully accused of treason and imprisoned on Devil’s Island, a notorious case of anti-Semitism in the army that had blown up into a political storm that threatened to bring down the government.

The far-right press later suggested Dreyfus's supporters assassinated Faure because he refused to review the Dreyfus case. In January 1899, he signed a bill that would take the case out of the responsibility of a top French court which appeared to favour review.

But Steinheil was accused in some quarters of poisoning Faure. Accusations which gained pace when she came under suspicion of killing her own husband in 1908, acquiring the nickname of "the Red Widow".

Stenheil's mother, Emilie Japy, died of a heart attack and Adolphe Steinheil was strangled. Marguerite Steinheil was found tied to a bed. She told police that three men and one woman dressed in black attacked her during the night.

Far-right newspaper Action Française insisted that Faure had been murdered.

"At that time, newspapers Action Francaise and l’Intransigeant know they have lost the battle. Dreyfus has been pardoned, and will soon reintegrate the army. Clearly at the time they wanted revenge,” says Ambroise-Rendu.

It is at that point that the secrets surrounding Faure’s death grew into a full-blown scandal, known as L’affaire Steinheil in the French press. The outcry died down when Steinheil was finally acquitted of killing her husband after a tumultuous trial in Paris.

“Scandals involving politician's private life and public life appear for the first time in the press,” says Ambroise, “they have two dimensions, the press draws attention to something that has been hidden by the authorities and at the same time denounces the commercial exploitation of the scandal it creates.”

The ingredients of a good scandal haven’t changed since the late 19th century, says Ambroise, and neither has the silver drawing room.

A century later, French President Nicolas Sarkozy briefly turned the drawing room into an office, before restoring it to its original state. Maybe it was not the right place for a known workaholic, where excesses of any kind could prove fatal.



home last updates contact