Eugen Weidman - last man to be executed in public by the Guillotine.
Weidmann was born in Frankfurt am Main in Germany to the family of an export businessman, and went to school there. He was sent to live with his grandparents at the outbreak of World War I; during this time he started stealing. Later in his 20s he served five years in Saarbrücken jail for robbery.
During his time in jail Weidmann met two men who would later become his partners in crime: Roger Million and Jean Blanc. After their release from jail, they decided to work together to kidnap rich tourists visiting France and steal their money. They rented a villa in Saint-Cloud, near Paris, for this purpose.
Their first kidnap attempt ended in failure because their victim struggled too hard, forcing them to let him go. In July 1937, they made a second attempt, Weidmann having made the acquaintance of Jean De Koven, a 22-year-old New York dancer visiting her aunt Ida Sackheim in Paris. Impressed by the tall, handsome German, De Koven wrote to a friend: "I have just met a charming German of keen intelligence who calls himself Siegfried. Perhaps I am going to another Wagnerian role - who knows? I am going to visit him tomorrow at his villa in a beautiful place near a famous mansion that Napoleon gave Josephine." During their meeting they smoked and "Siegfried" gave her a glass of milk. She took photos of him with her new camera (later found beside her body, the developed snapshots showing her killer). Weidmann then strangled and buried her in the villa's garden. The group then sent Million's mistress, Collette Tricot, to cash de Koven's $430 in traveller's cheque and 300 francs in cash. Sackheim received a letter demanding $500 for the return of her niece. De Koven's brother Henry later came to France offering a 10,000 franc reward from his father Abraham for information about the young woman. However, by that time she was dead.
On September 1 of the same year, Weidmann hired a chauffeur named Joseph Couffy to drive him to the French Riviera where, in a forest outside Tours he shot him in the nape of the neck and stole his car and 2500 francs. The next murder came on September 3, after Weidmann and Million lured Janine Keller, a private nurse, into a cave in the forest of Fontainebleau with a job offer. There he killed her, again with a bullet to the nape of the neck, before robbng her of 1400 francs and her diamond ring. On October 16, Million and Weidmann arranged a meeting with a young theatrical producer named Roger LeBlond, promising to invest money in one of his shows. Instead, Weidmann shot him in the back of his head and took his wallet containing 5000 francs. On November 22, Weidmann murdered and robbed Fritz Frommer, a young German he had met in jail. Frommer, a Jew, had been held there for his anti-Nazi views. Once again the victim was shot in the nape of the neck. His body was buried in the basement of the Saint-Cloud house where De Koven was interred. Five days later Weidmann committed his final murder. Raymond Lesobre, a real estate agent, was shot in the killer's preferred fashion while showing him around a house in Saint-Cloud. Five-thousand francs were taken from him.
Officers from the Sûreté, led by a young inspector named Primborgne, eventually tracked Weidmann to the villa from a business card left at Lesobre's office. Arriving at his home, Weidmann found two officers waiting for him. Inviting them in, he then turned and fired three times at them with a pistol. Although they were unarmed, the wounded Sûreté men managed to wrestle Weidmann down, knocking him unconscious with a hammer that happened to be nearby. Weidmann was a highly co-operative prisoner, confessing to all his murders, including that of de Koven, the only one for which he expressed regret. He is reported to have said tearfully: "She was gentle and unsuspecting ... When I reached for her throat, she went down like a doll."
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