Detective Marie Francois Goron and the Gouffe Case Part 5

About the famous detective Marie Francois Goron and the Gouffe Case, account of the crime and clues, solution of the case.


Up to Montreal, west to Vancouver, down to San Francisco they had gone, paying their expenses with the small sums Eyraud had garnered along the way from a variety of con schemes. In Vancouver, though, Gabrielle had taken a new lover, a former French diplomat to Southeast Asia. The lover had followed the pair to San Francisco, where Eyraud had planned to fleece him by getting him to invest in a phony cognac distillery. Gabrielle had seemed to go along with the swindle, but suddenly she had abandoned Michel and run away with the would-be victim.

Eyraud had followed them to New York, where he learned that Goron had identified Gouffe's killers and notified police headquarters around the world to be on the lookout for the pair. Certain that Gabrielle planned to go to the French authorities in an effort to save herself at his expense and goaded by jealousy at being overthrown as her lover, Eyraud had written his long letters to the man who was pursuing him.

After sending the letters to Goron, Eyraud retraced his steps westward. But now he was truly penniless, and he knew that he was the object of an intense manhunt. He jumped from town to town, staying just long enough to swindle the amount he needed for the next journey. Finally, he made it down to Mexico, only to discover that the authorities there too were participants in Goron's dragnet. One last desperate scramble put him in Cuba, where at last he felt safe among the sizable European community on the island.

One European whom he had not expected to see in Havana, however, was a former employee of his defunct French distillery. After spotting Eyraud and knowing that his former boss was wanted for murder, the employee informed the Cuban authorities. On May 20, Cuban police arrested Eyraud at a brothel, and within a few weeks he was on a ship bound for France. On June 30, 1980--11 months after Gouffe had been garroted--Goron reveled in the glory of having both of the perpetrators of this crime in French custody.

The trial of Michel Eyraud and Gabrielle Bompard lasted a mere five days, Dec. 16-20, 1890. Concerned only that Gabrielle share his fate, Eyraud barely presented a defense and was sentenced to death. Bompard, though, managed to convince the court that while doing her part in dispatching the bailiff, she had been under Eyraud's strange hypnotic spell; as a result, she came away with a sentence of 20 years at forced labor.

Marie Francois Goron abhorred that part of his duty which required him to be present at executions. He fervently believed that capital punishment served no deterrent purpose. But on the morning of Feb. 3, 1891, he stood at Eyraud's side as the convicted killer twice refused cognac, was shaved, was taken out to the Place de la Roquette where he was executed by the swift blade of the guillotine. Goron attended the burial at Ivry cemetery, and then--saddened perhaps at the use that society made of great detective work--he returned to his office in Paris.

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