The Murder of Jean De Koven Part 2

About the murder of Jean De Koven which led to a series of a murders, the arrest of the killer, trial, and verdict.

THE DE KOVEN CASE (1937)

The Accused: Weidman had killed Jean De Koven, and 5 others. Strictly for money. He was surrounded by a fantastic gang of 4 including a squeamish little man named Roger Million. Weidman regretted only Jean De Koven. "I intended just to kidnap her," he said. "I assure you, I had not thought of killing her. She told me about her life, adding that she might take some engagements to dance in important cabarets about Paris. She confessed that since she'd met me she found life more beautiful. We went for a walk in the garden, and Jean took 2 photographs of me with her camera. It was getting dark, so we went into the villa and continued to talk until 3 in the morning. Jean was drinking milk, and smoking. As she was tired, she lay down on the sofa. I was sitting near her. I needed money; I realized I would never be able to kidnap her without killing her. Suddenly I placed my hands around her neck. She stood up. She understood I was trying to strangle her. I closed my eyes, as I could not bear the sight of her lovely face. Darling Jean, how sweet she was. . . . She was gentle and unsuspecting. I enjoyed speaking English to her, which I learned in Canada. When I reached for her throat, she went down like a doll."

The Trial: Weidman's trial was a sensation and a fantasy. He turned the courthouse into a vast psychiatrist's couch. He would not look at Jean after they dug her up from under his porch (she had been well preserved in the clay), but he talked readily about himself and his crimes. French women followed the trial avidly and fell in love with him. The great French author Colette watched him and wrote for her paper, "Weidman was a romantic. He loved flowers and was cultivating roses. He also loved nature. It was not merely the necessity of the professional killer that made him choose the forests for his murders . . ."

The End: He was the last man, in France, to be guillotined in public. His execution turned into a sadistic festival, bleacherites dancing and drinking for hours before the dawn, near the great knife. He emerged from Landru's old cell bravely, and flinched only once: As he bent his head beneath the knife, he closed his eyes.

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