True Crime Leon Peltzer and the Great Alibi Part 3

About the brothers Leon and Armand Peltzer, their biography, history, the murder they undertook and their famous alibi, the trial and verdict.


The Trial: The battle between the Crown and the 5 lawyers of the defense opened in the Palais de Justice on November 27, 1882. The Crown, using 91 witnesses, showed how Armand Peltzer had directed the crime, using his brother as a puppet. Armand had guided his brother to a Parisian theatrical hairdresser for part of his disguise, had created the nonexistent shipping tycoon bearing the name Vaughan, had sent his younger brother to London to purchase the murder weapon. Throughout the long trial both Peltzers were cool, calm, and elegantly dressed, even to wearing gloves. On December 22 the case went to the jury. Despite the pleas of the defense, the jury took only a half hour to find both Peltzers guilty of murder. They were sentenced to death, but since the death penalty had been abolished in Belgium, the sentences meant life imprisonment.

The End: The Peltzers were both incarcerated in the Louvain prison. After 2 years and 4 months, Armand fell ill and died, after sharing a glass of hot wine with his younger brother. Leon lived on, learning more languages--he knew 6 in all--and spending his time as an unofficial translator for the Ministry of Justice. After 30 years behind prison walls, Leon was released on condition he live outside Belgium. Free at the age of 65, he changed his name to Albert Preitelle and moved to London. Then he moved to Ceylon, working there as a secretary for 7 years. Finally allowed to return to Brussels, he got a job with a business firm, through the help of friends. But feeling he had this job as a charity case, he decided that he didn't want to live any longer. He planned his suicide as carefully as his brother had planned the murder of Bernays. One day in 1922, when he had it all blueprinted, Leon took a train to Ostend. From there he went outside the city, jumped into the ocean, and drowned himself.

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