Birthday: January 17, 1897
Died At Age: 49
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Also Known As: Marcel André Henri Félix Petiot
Born in: Auxerre
Famous as: Serial Killer
Spouse/Ex-: Georgette Lablais (m. 1927 – his death. 1946)
father: Félix Petiot
mother: Marthe Bourdon
siblings: Maurice Petiot
children: Gerhardt Claude Georges Félix
Died on: May 25, 1946
place of death: Paris
Marcel André Henri Félix Petiot was a French physician, politician, and convicted serial killer. The remains of 23 of his victims were discovered in the basement of his home in Paris. It has been speculated that he had killed about 60 people but the true number of his victims is not yet known. A native of the French city of Auxerre, Petiot had several issues as a child and was diagnosed with mental illness after he was ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation for the criminal activities in his youth. When World War I broke out, he served in the French Army and was gassed, which contributed to further mental deterioration. After the war ended, Petiot earned a medical degree and started practising soon after. However, he earned a reputation for running illegal activities from his practice. He was also involved in politics for a period and became the mayor of his town. Petiot allegedly killed his first victim in the 1920s. During World War II, when France was occupied by Nazi Germany, he and his accomplices lured in Jews, Resistance fighters, and ordinary criminals, with the promise of arranging the passage to a South American country. They subsequently murdered them and stole all their belongings. Petiot was eventually apprehended and executed in 1946.
Childhood & Early Life
Born on January 17, 1897, in Auxerre, Yonne, France, Petiot was the son of Felix Irénée Mustiole Petiot, an employee of French Postal Service in Auxerre, and his wife, Marthe Marie Constance Joséphine Bourdon.
He demonstrated his intelligence very early in his life but displayed drastic behavioural problems in school. He was suspended multiple times before he could finish his education.
When he was 11 years old, he took his father’s gun to school and fired it in the class. He also asked a female student of the school to have sex with him.
After he became a teenager, he vandalised a post-box. As a result, he was charged with causing damage to public property and theft, and was subsequently compelled to go through a psychiatric evaluation. After they discovered that he had a mental illness, all the charges against him were dropped.
Many people question these reports of delinquencies and criminal activities during his youth as it is possible that they circulated only after his later crimes became public knowledge. On March 26, 1914, a psychiatrist concluded that Petiot was mentally ill. In July 1915, he completed his education at a special academy in Paris.
Continue Reading Below
You May Like
Military Service during the World War I
Following the advent of the World War I, Petiot willingly enlisted in the French Army in January 1916. He took part in the Second Battle of the Aisne during which he was injured and exposed to gas.
He developed symptoms of mental breakdown not long after. As a result, the French government arranged for him to stay at various rest homes, but he started stealing army blankets, morphine, and other army supplies, as well as wallets, photographs, and letters of fellow soldiers. He was soon apprehended and was sent to a jail in Orleans.
While he was at a psychiatric hospital in Fleury-les-Aubrais, the doctors concluded that he was suffering from various mental illnesses but he was sent back to the front in June 1918. Three weeks later, he received his transfer papers after he allegedly shot himself in the foot. However, by September, he had become a member of a new regiment. Another diagnosis followed, and the French Army let him retire with a disability pension.
Career in Medicine & Politics
When the war ended, Petiot enrolled in the accelerated education program intended for war veterans, earning his medical degree in eight months. He joined a mental hospital in Evreux as an intern.
In December 1921, he earned his medical degree and relocated to Villeneuve-sur-Yonne, where he not only took money from the government medical assistance funds but also from his patients. Petiot garnered a dubious reputation for his medical practice in Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. He distributed narcotics, conducted illegal abortions, and committed theft.
According to some reports, Petitot’s first victim was a young woman named Louise Delaveau, who was the daughter of one of his elderly patients. Delaveau and Petiot were in a relationship in 1926, and by May that year, people realized that she was missing. Later, neighbours stated that they had noticed Petiot loading a trunk into his car. While the police initially investigated the case, they ultimately stopped looking into it, dubbing her a runaway.
Petiot also won the Villeneuve-sur-Yonne mayoral election in 1926. During his tenure in office, he embezzled a significant amount of money from the town funds. However, the embezzlement was soon discovered by his constituents, and they reported him to the Prefect of Yonne Département. In August 1931, he was suspended from his position as mayor.
Despite the suspension, there were plenty of people who still supported him, and the village council decided to show their solidarity with him. On 18 October 1931, he won the election to be a councillor of Yonne Département.
In 1932, he was once more facing allegations of theft, this time of electric power from the village. The council seat was taken away from him. He then decided to relocate to Paris.
Continue Reading Below
Activities & Crimes during the World War II
In 1940, Nazi Germany defeated France and occupied the country. They began to force the French citizens to draft for labour in Germany. Petiot created fake medical disability certificates for people who were being sent to Germany. Furthermore, he helped the labourers who were coming back. In July 1942, a court found him guilty of overprescribing narcotics and ordered him to pay a 2,400 francs fine.
In later years, he would claim that he was involved in the French Resistance during the occupation. He also said that he created secret weapons that eliminated German targets but did not leave any forensic evidence behind.
Furthermore, he claimed that he set booby traps all over Paris, had regular meetings with Allied commanders, and collaborated with a Spanish anti-fascist group. Although none of these claims has been proven, former U.S. spymaster Col. John F. Grombach did mention him as a World War II source in 1980.
It was also during the occupation that he began committing the murders. He set up a lucrative criminal activity center in Paris that involved promising his victims a safe passage to Argentina and other South American countries in exchange of 25,000 francs. Petiot adopted the pseudonym "Dr. Eugène" to perform the crimes and had three accomplices: Raoul Fourrier, Edmond Pintard, and René-Gustave Nézondet.
Their victims were often people wanted by the Germans or the Vichy government, including Jews, Resistance fighters, and ordinary criminals. Once he knew that they were completely in his grasp, he convinced them that the Argentine officials needed all asylum seekers to be inoculated against disease. He then killed them by injecting them with cyanide and took all their belongings.
In the beginning, he got rid of the bodies by dumping in the Seine. Later, he started using quicklime to destroy the bodies of his victims or simply incinerated them. For this, he used a house at 21 Rue le Sueur that he had owned since 1941.
Arrest & Conviction
It was the Gestapo that first became suspicious of him. However, they thought that he was a member of the Resistance and was assisting Jews to escape. They apprehended all three of his accomplices and tortured them for information.
While the Gestapo did not learn anything about the Resistance, as Fourrier, Pintard, and Nézondet had nothing to tell them, they did reveal that "Dr. Eugène" was Marcel Petiot.
On March 11, 1944, Petiot’s neighbours told the authorities that there was a foul stench in the area. They were also informed of the large amounts of smoke that often came out of the chimney of the house. The police discovered a coal stove in the basement of his house, as well as the quicklime pit. They also found human remains and properties of his victims.
In the subsequent months, Petiot evaded capture by staying with his friends. He adopted a new pseudonym, "Henri Valeri", during the liberation of Paris and enlisted in the French Forces of the Interior (FFI). He was eventually captured on 31 October 1944 at a Paris Métro station.
The trial garnered much media attention. Petiot was given several monikers, including Butcher of Paris, Scalper of the Etoile, and the monster of rue Le Sueur. During the trial, Petiot attempted to claim himself to be a Resistance fighter, but the judges and jurors were unconvinced. He was ultimately found guilty of 26 counts of murder and handed down the death penalty. On May 25, 1946, he was beheaded with a guillotine.
Family & Personal Life
Petiot married a woman named Georgette Lablais in June 1927. They had a son together, Gerhardt (born April 1928).
In the 1990 film ‘Docteur Petiot’, French actor Michel Serrault portrayed Petiot.