Juan Ignacio Blanco  


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Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: "Homicidal mania"
Number of victims: 8
Date of murders: 1862 - 1866
Date of arrest: January 11, 1866
Date of birth: 1832
Victims profile: Seven women (prostitutes) and one children, 10
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Paris, France
Status: Executed by guillotine on July 1866



Evening News
London, U.K.
12 October 1888

On the morning of January 9, 1866, the inhabitants of the French capital were thrown into a state of consternation by the report of a crime, which was the tenth of its kind committed within the space of the previous three years.

The murder of Marie Bodeux, closing the series of ten, had been perpetrated with a boldness that became appalling. The public for the last few days have been under the impression that the challenge flung by the so-called "Jack the Ripper" to the London police in the shape of postcards and letters is the ne plus ultra of contemptuous sarcasm. The slayer of Marie Bodeux had gone much further.

He had selected a victim in the very premises the ground-floor of which was occupied by the police-station, and this, notwithstanding his knowledge of the police being in possession of a detailed description of his appearance, which had been furnished more than eighteen months before by a girl who, by a singular instance of presence of mind, had escaped his clutches. Nor was his appearance such as to pass unnoticed in a crowd. Without laying much stress on the thick black hair and beard- the later of which he might have shaved if he had wished- Joseph Philippe, as he turned out to be, was deeply pitted with smallpox, and had in addition a tattoo mark on the right arm, impossible to be effaced.

Nevertheless, he had managed to baffle the police for three years during which at least ten human beings had been done to death by him; for, as the judge presiding at the trial remarked, "We can only proceed upon the evidence of the bodies found, though I am not exceeding the prerogatives of my office in considering these but a part of the slaughter committed by the prisoner in the dock."

The president of the Court was alluding to a number of mutilated and truncated corpses found during that time in various out-of-the-way places of the metropolis. For unlike "Jack the Ripper," Philippe neither confined himself to one particular neighbourhood, nor to one particular mode of procedure.

His lust for blood was induced by what has already been termed "erotic catalepsy" and complicated by cupidity, though the latter was merely a means to an end; in other words, to obtain the wherewithal to indulge in his debauches and in his craving for intoxicants. There is, however, no doubt that the height of his fiendish lasciviousness was the agony of his victims as they weltered in their blood. Consequently he did not disdain to track his prey among the better class of "unfortunates," but, to use a vulgar expression, "everything was fish that came to his net." Home or no home to which to take him was a matter of indifference as long as he saw his way to accomplish his all-pervading idea, murder under the pretext of caressing. As such the terror inspired by him was not confined to the poorer category of "girls" only. None felt safe but the very "tip-top" ones, and the newspapers of the time had to record a panic throughout the whole of Paris similar to that which I have already mentioned as prevailing in the neighbourhood of Whitechapel.

No wonder, then, that Paris was awe-stricken at the latest exploit, which, I repeat, surpassed in daring all that had gone before, not only because it occurred in the very house tenanted by the police, but on account of other circumstances connected with it. Marie Bodeux was on most intimate terms with an old man of 73, living on the floor above her. The later never failed to wish her good-night when coming home.

On the night of January 8, after having spent part of it with his relations, he found the outer door of Marie Bodeux's apartment open, and, when getting as far as her bedroom, perceived, by the flickering light of a candle, a stranger arranging his necktie and brushing his hair before the looking-glass. Of course, the old man discreetly retired, with the intention of returning in a few minutes, seeing that the stranger was preparing to depart. When he did return the stranger brushed past him in the room, muttering a hurried good night. It was the old man who gave the first alarm to the police. The latter had no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion that they were once more in the presence of a victim of the mysterious demon that had slain the girl Robert, the woman Mage, and her baby son, eighteen months ago, who had murdered so many others, who had planned the destruction of the girll Foucher. It was she who had supplied the police with the description on the morning of the assassination of Julie Mage and her child. It was she who had related her providential escape when by a ruse she had inveigled him into the street again after he was closeted with her that same night. It was she who had given the particulars of the tattoo-mark on his right arm: "I am born under an unlucky star," the last word of the sentence being replaced by a coarsely-executed drawing of the thing itself. It was that which roused her suspicions, besides his sinister figure. She thought him a convict escaped from the hulks. "Jack the Ripper" being frustrated in Berner-street in the complete execution of his hellish design, loses no time in tracking another quarry. His French predecessor being frustrated by the girl Foucher, loses no time in accosting Julie Mage. He does not even take the trouble of putting some distance between his intended victim and the one that succumbs. They both live in the same street, the Rue St. Marguerite, which is famed in modern history as having witnessed the death of Baudoir on the second morning after the coup d' etat , which is notorious as the headquarters of the intra-mural Paris ragpickers. The girl Foucher watches him from behind her door entering the house where Julie Mage lives, next morning, when the crime is discovered, she tenders her evidence at once.

Eighteen months have elapsed since then, and notwithstanding the very valuable clue thus provided, notwithstanding the presence at their head of one of the cleaverest detectives of modern times, "monsieur Claude," the police are as puzzled as ever. They have no doubt as to the identity of the murderer of Marie Bodeux with the murderer of so many other "unfortunates," but at the same time they despair of capturing him. The blood-stained water on the washing stand tells them that he has taken his precautions as before. True, the razor with which he has committed the deed has by an oversight been left behind, but it bears not the maker's name, nothing but an English trade-mark, which may or may not be forged. Marie Bodeux's purse, containing all the money she possessed, is gone, her wardrobe has been searched, but as it held no valuables, nothing has been abstracted. The purse has been given her by the old acquaintance already mentioned. Even "monsieur Claude" shakes his head in despair. It is no good use trying the lodging-houses, high or low, the thing has been tried before; the murderer evidently occupies rooms furnished by himself, and thus avoids registration at the Prefecture of Police. They have a very elaborate description, but at a time when vaccination was still not so much practiced as now pockmarked people were too numerous to be all tracked. "Monsieur Claude" opines that, barring an accident, they will be as unsuccessful now as they have been hitherto.

That accident is provided by the murderer himself on the third morning after his crime in the Rue Ville-Levèque. Emboldened by his success he flies at higher game than the ordinary street-walker- whether rich or poor. During his five years stay in Paris he has been employed by a carver, gilder, and frame maker in the Faubourg St. Germain, one of whose customers is a Madame Midy, an artist, living in the Rue d'Erfurth.

On January 11, he presents himself at the lady's apartment to inquire for a tool he pretends to have left the last time he was at work there. When the lady replies that she has seen no such tool, he draws from beneath his blouse a pillow case, asking whether she can identify this as her property. The lady, wearied of his importunities, turns her head, and the intruder flings the pillow case over it, intending to set to work in his usual manner- namely, to strangle her partially before cutting her throat. (Note: In view of the reiterated testimony of witnesses at the various inquests as to the absence of cries on the part of "Jack the Ripper's" victims, the coincidence is worthy of consideration.)

In her desperate efforts to free herself from her assailant's grip, Madame Midy firmly sets her teeth in the hand which was endeavouring to stifle her cries. Fortunately her studio is only divided by a thin partition from another one, and the neighbour hearing the noise of struggle rushes to the rescue. He knocks at the door, and receiving no answer, flings open the window on the landing overlooking the courtyard and shouts for the concierge, after which he knocks again. This time the door is opened by an individual who in the coolest way imaginable tells him : "Madame Midy has suddenly taken ill; I am going for the doctor; I don't think it is much." With apparent calmness he proceeds down stairs, until he hears the cries of Madame Midy, "Stop him, stop him," as he is crossing the courtyard. Then he takes to his heels; but in vain, because before he has reached the Rue Jacob he is arrested. A tremendously long-bladed knife is found upon him, and the search in his room reveals, besides many bloodstained garments, the purse of Marie Bodeux and the empty razor case. The rest is plain sailing. Not only the girl Foucher, but the girl Helenè Meurand identify him, the first as the man who accosted Julie Mage on the night she (Foucher) managed to give him the slip, the second as the man who tried to strangle her while he was in her room nearly two years ago. She warned several acquaintances to this effect. In addition, another unfortunate, Alice Cirot, comes forward and swears to Joseph Philippe having said in her presence in a wine shop on the Place de la Bourse, "I am very fond of women, and I accommodate them in my own way. I first strangle them, then I cut their throats."

On Monday, June 25, 1866, Joseph Philippe is tried for the murders of the girl Robert, Julie Mage and her child, and Marie Bodeux. The prosecution confines itself to these four counts, seeing that the evidence gathered in support of them is absolutely overwhelming.

According to eye-witnesses the prisoner, notwithstanding his scarred face, is by no means repulsive. His features, when unmoved by passion or drink, betray nothing of the fiendish, bloodthirsty manis that sways him at his dangerous moments. Their opinion agrees with the evidence of his former employers, all of whom testify to his invariable good temper, honesty, and activity, when not under the influence of drink.

They are further borne out by the military authorities who state that until drunkenness set its seal upon him he served with credit to himself and to the satisfaction of his superiors. But a year after his admission to the ranks he began to misconduct himself, was sentenced to one year's imprisonment, and after his liberation was transferred to the "punishment battalion in Algeria." He remained there until his final discharge in 1860.

A twelvemonth after he came to Paris, and in a short time took to evil ways. The defence pleads "homicidal mania," the result of erotic epilepsy, the force of bad example and the consequent impulse to the imitation of two other murders of "unfortunates," who were, however, prompted by different motives, the one by greed, pure and simple, the other by a kind of revenge on the whole of the sex too horrid to be mentioned.

The jury refuses to be influenced by the plea, and in giving their verdict omit any and every mention of extenuating circumstances. Joseph Philippe was but thirty-four when he was guillotined. He met his death like a man, in fact, psychologists have since declared that the reaction which set in after his capture was tantamount to the wish of having done with life as soon as possible. He knew that if even his life was spared, there would be no chance of indulging the fiendish cravings that during the latter years had been the sole incentive to live. Drink was necessary to him to drown the frightful apparitions that, according to some of his employers, haunted him already before his arrest; and he knew that drink could not be obtained. There was, it appears, nothing in his life that became him so well as the leaving of it. A.D.V.



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