Henri Landru - French criminals

Henri Désiré Landru, born in Paris (1869 - 1922) was a notorious French serial killer.

He first turned to fraud, operating scams that usually involved swindling elderly widows. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment in 1900, the first of several such convictions.

By 1914 began to put adverts in the lonely hearts sections in Paris newspapers. With World War I underway, there were plenty of widows for Landru to prey upon.

Landru would seduce the women who came to his Parisian villa and, after he been given access to their assets, he would kill them - probably by strangulation - and burn their dismembered bodies in his oven.

Between 1914 and 1918, Landru claimed 11 victims: 10 women plus the teenaged son of one of his victims. With no bodies, the victims were just listed as missing, and it was virtually impossible for the police to know what had happened to them.

In 1919, the sister of one of Landru's victims, Madame Buisson, attempted to track down her missing sibling. She did not know Landru's real name but she knew his appearance and where he lived, and she eventually got the police to arrest him.

Originally, Landru was just charged with embezzlement. There was seemingly not enough evidence to charge him with murder -  however, policemen did eventually find various bits of paperwork that listed the missing women, including Madame Buisson, and combining those with other documents, they finally built up enough evidence to charge him with murder.

Landru stood trial on 11 counts of murder in November 1921. He was convicted on all counts, sentenced to death, and guillotined three months later.

Forty years later, there was a rumour that the daughter of Landru's lawyer found a picture Landru had drawn whilst awaiting execution, and on the back of it he had apparently written, "I did it. I burned their bodies in my kitchen stove".