Jeanne Weber – Munchausen Madwoman

Jeanne Weber (7 October 1874 – 1910) was a French serial killer. She strangled 10 children, including her own. Born in a small fishing village in northern France, Jeanne left home for Paris at age 14, working various menial jobs until her marriage in 1893. Her husband was an alcoholic, and two of their three children died in 1905. By then, Jeanne was also drinking heavily. On 2 March 1905, Jeanne was babysitting for her sister-in-law, when 18-month-old Georgette suddenly “fell ill” and died. Strange bruises on her neck were ignored by the physician, and Jeanne was welcomed back to babysit on 11 March. Two-year-old Suzanne did not survive the visit, but a doctor blamed the second death on unexplained “convulsions.”

Jeanne was babysitting for her brother, on 25 March, when his daughter, seven-year-old Germaine, suffered a sudden attack of “choking,” with red marks on her throat. The child survived but the following day, when Jeanne returned, she died. Diphtheria was blamed for her death, and for that of Jeanne’s son, Marcel, four days later. Once again, the marks of strangulation were ignored. On 5 April 1905, Jeanne invited two of her sisters-in-law to dinner, remaining home with 10-year-old nephew Maurice while the women went out shopping. They returned to find Maurice gasping on the bed, his throat mottled with bruises, Jeanne standing over him with a crazed expression on her face. Charges were filed, and Jeanne’s trial opened on 29 January 1906, with the prosecution alleging eight murders, including all three of her own children and two others,  Lucie Aleandre and Marcel Poyatos,  who had died while in her care. Jeanne killed her son in March to throw suspicion off, but she was being defended by the brilliant defense lawyer Henri-Robert, and jurors were reluctant to believe the worst about a grieving mother. She was acquitted on 6 February.  Watch mother sentenced to eight years

Fourteen months later, on 7 April 1907, a physician was summoned to the home of a peasant named Bavouzet. He was greeted at the door by a babysitter, “Madame Moulinet,” who led him to the cot where nine-year-old Auguste Bavouzet lay dead, his throat badly bruised. The cause of death was listed as “convulsions,” but the doctor changed his opinion on 4 May, when “Madame Moulinet” was identified as Jeanne Weber. Jeanne engaged the lawyer Henri-Robert once more. She was released in December, after a second autopsy blamed the boy’s death on typhoid. Jeanne took a job as an orderly at a children’s home run by friends who sought to “make up for the wrongs that justice has inflicted upon an innocent woman.” Working as “Marie Lemoine,” Jeanne had been on the job for less than a week when she was caught strangling a child. The owners dismissed her and the incident was covered up. She drifted into prostitution and on 8 May 1908, settled at an inn in Commercy. A short time later, Jeanne was found strangling the innkeeper’s son, 10-year-old Marcel Poirot, with a bloody handkerchief. The father had to punch her three times in the face before she would release the lifeless body. Watch Munchausen Syndrome

Held for trial on murder charges, Jeanne was declared insane on 25 October 1908, and packed off to the asylum at Mareville. Accused of at least ten murders, she survived two years in captivity before manually strangling herself in 1910.

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