Detective Vidocq and the Fontaine Case Part 3

About the famous French detective Vidocq and the Fontaine Case, chase, clues, and solution for the crime.


The Chase

Although it first seemed that Fontaine would surely die, he responded to treatment and was able to give police a description of his assailants. In addition, the police found a torn scrap of paper at the scene bearing part of an address. Vidocq studied the paper for hours and theorized that the full address was that of Clair Raoul, a wine merchant and known criminal. Vidocq ordered a stakeout of Raoul's wineshop, while Surete agents disguised as underworld characters made discreet inquiries in the neighborhood. Vidocq soon learned that Raoul had two close friends who often came to his shop late at night, covered with the dust of the road. One of them fit Fontaine's description of one of his assailants, and a Surete detective trailed him to a flat in Paris. Vidocq himself staked out the flat for hours on end until the man came out. Vidocq quickly recognized him--Monsieur Court, a thief he had once arrested. Investigation of Court showed that he slept by day and moved by night, had no job, yet always had money. Vidocq obtained a warrant and personally arrested him.

Vidocq then went to the wineshop and told Raoul that he had been accused of harboring members of an outlawed political party. Raoul denied it and permitted Vidocq to search the shop for subversive literature. Finding nothing, Vidocq demanded to search Raoul's apartment in Montmartre also, and the two traveled there by carriage together with several Surete agents. At the apartment, Vidocq found a document of special interest. A scrap had been torn off a corner, and part of Raoul's address was missing. As Vidocq carefully studied it, he recognized it as the missing piece of the scrap found at the scene of the crime. Realization flashed across Raoul's face. He leaped for his pistols, but the Surete agents quickly subdued him.

The Solution

Vidocq questioned Court for hours, being careful never to mention just what crime he was charged with. Weary and discouraged, Court finally broke down and confessed to numerous crimes, including the attack on Fontaine, Raoul, said Court, had been his accomplice. Thus implicated, Raoul also confessed. Fontaine identified both men from his hospital bed, and they were sentenced to the guillotine.

Ever gallant to his criminal adversaries, Vidocq carried messages from the condemned men to their families. And when a much-improved Fontaine appeared on the day of execution and pressed close to his erstwhile attackers, gloating and taunting them over the turnabout, Vidocq ordered him removed from the area. The giant blade flashed twice, and the Fontaine case was closed.

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