Detective Vidocq and the Fontaine Case Part 1
About the famous French detective Vidocq and the Fontaine Case, account of the crime.
VIDOCQ AND THE FONTAINE CASE
It was autumn, 1821, harvest festival time around Paris, and a sturdy, broad-shouldered butcher named Fontaine was bound for a fair to buy sheep. But Fontaine was apprehensive; he was traveling alone on foot in an area known for highway robbery. When the two well-dressed gentlemen he met at a roadside inn explained that they were traveling his way, he was well pleased. There's safety in numbers, he thought, and the three fell in together. Soon after nightfall Fontaine found himself walking down a narrow lane with one companion in front, one in back. Without warning, a vicious blow on the back of his head staggered him. As he turned, a second blow buckled his knees. Fontaine was powerful and fought fiercely, striking out with his stout walking stick, but the two men fell upon him, one with a club, the other with a dagger. Soon he lay bloody and silent, with 28 stab wounds. Several hours later, a passing traveler found the wounded man and took him to a hospital.
Enter the Detective
The attack on Fontaine was only one of a rash of brutal robberies in the provinces around Paris, and the local police sought the help of the Surete, the Parisian police force. The director of the detective division, Francois Eugene Vidocq, took personal charge of the case.
Vidocq, onetime criminal turned law enforcer. The name struck fear into the hearts of Parisian thugs. He was the nemesis of the French underworld. His criminal quarry called him "the wolf."
In 1790, at the age of 15, he had joined the army, and soon became known as a womanizer and expert with the epee and saber. He is said to have killed scores of men in duels. This brawling nature led him into trouble. When Vidocq was 18, he got married. Shortly afterward, an army officer seduced his wife, and Vidocq soundly thrashed them both. Soon he was in prison.
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