Not only did France change dramatically after the French Revolution, but the entire world. It was as though every nation started taking a harder look at their shortcomings. With the French monarchy toppled, Modern Nationalism took hold as the Catholic Church was forced to loosen their grip and fall back. For the first time, a separation between church and state could clearly be seen. In this post-Enlightenment era many positive changes could be easily recognized. It was also in this era that the darker side of humanity became more known. Before, many had thought that the perpetrators of violent crimes had something inherently wrong with them. It wasn't until after the capture and execution of Martin Dumollard that medical scientists found through the study of his brain that this couldn't be further from the truth.
It was around the time that this living monster was caught that the theory of nature versus nurture was first being considered. This is a debate prevalent in true crime circles today. Is a monster made from the circumstances that surround them? Or, are they simply born to be bad? In the study of many serial killer cases one can easily find that many of these violent offenders have been created by the people and circumstances around them. In reading Ryan Green's book, Crimson Petticoats, I found that this particular offender was most definitely a product of his childhood, or lack thereof.
Martin Dumollard's early life was certainly part of the catalyst that made him who he was. Growing up in the French Empire that rose from the ashes of the old monarchy, Martin had a difficult and strange childhood, even for his time. The difficulties he faced during his formative years had everything to do with the man that had sired him, Pierre Dumollard.
Originally known as Pierre Demola, Martin's father had been born a scion of Hungarian nobility. Beginning his life in Pest, Hungary, Pierre's family was stripped of their power and rulership after the formation of the Austrian Empire. When the empire formed and forced him from his position, he became involved in numerous plots to oust the Austrians and reestablish Hungarian dominance. These plots culminated in an attempt on the Emperor, Franz Josef's, life. The assassination attempt failed, resulting in the brutal execution of his co-conspirators. Seeing these men put to death so horribly, Pierre fled in fear of his own life.
He gathered everything he could carry and absconded into the night. Disguising himself as a common peasant, Pierre traveled cross-country under the cover of darkness to avoid detection. Between bribing his way through otherwise sealed borders and attempting to uphold some semblance of his former lifestyle, he quickly burned through his liquid assets. By the time he had made his way through both Germanic states and the warring Italian states, he was broke. The old way of life he'd become so accustomed to became nothing more than a memory. A story to be passed down in hushed tones lest he be found out and executed in the same gruesome manner as his cohorts.
It was nearly a year after his failed attempt at a coup that Pierre found himself in Salins-les-Thermes in the southwest of France. Though he had squandered everything traveling out of the reach of the Austrians, there were still plenty of advantages to be had for a man with such education as he. His understanding of trade and commerce proved invaluable and it wasn't long before he was able to secure employment in this strange new land. Local merchants flocked to him for his expertise. These men looked to Pierre to manage their affairs, and he proved himself as more than competent with the task. Though he still had to remain anonymous due to the bounty on his head, he did quite well for himself nonetheless. He would never again know the luxuries of his old life, but he wouldn't be destitute, either.
As he rebuilt his life into something entirely new, Pierre met the woman that he knew he would spend his life with. Marie-Josephte Rey was taken with the beautiful stranger that made his way into town so suddenly. Being of low birth and unfortunate circumstances, she wasn't left with much in the way of marriage prospects. The arrival of Pierre Demola changed all of that for her. He was equally enticed by the notion of marriage. It was a chance to start his life over anew in the eyes of God and men alike. It was the expectation that he would never be alone again. He had known many paramours in his time as a scion of Hungarian nobility, but never anything as serious as he came to know with Marie-Josephte.
As if placing the final piece of his new life into place, Pierre married the woman that had shown him something beyond carnal pleasures. For the first time in his life, he was a devoted and dedicated husband. Their wedding ceremony was small, yet well-attended after which they set out for the village of Dagneux to start their life together.
As Pierre followed work opportunities, Marie-Josephte followed her husband to Tramoyes. During both of their moves he took care to ensure he wouldn't be recognized by anyone willing to sell him out to the Austrians for bounty. He knew that an attempt on their Emperor's life wouldn't soon be forgotten and the consequences of his actions were dire.
It was while living in Tramoyes that the couple conceived their first child, little Martin Dumollard. His birth brought much joy to them and truly brought them together as a family. Pierre was even said to have lost the haunted look that had been the result of years of looking over his shoulder. He stopped taking any job opportunity that came his way, choosing instead to settle down with his wife and son. From there, he would build longer lasting business relationships that would serve him better in his career path.
The moment Marie-Josephte was able to walk again after giving birth, she and her husband made the journey to Mionnay for the baby's christening. As there was no local perish in Tramoyes to keep such records the trip was necessary if they planned to christen the child. The proud new parents had no problem making such a trip for their son. It was well worth it for their child and his soul.
They were deliriously happy together. It only made sense to grow their family a little further. No one was surprised when the young mother found herself pregnant again. Martin was just 3 when his little brother, Raymond, was born. In need of a larger home to accommodate the larger brood, they moved back to Dagneux. From their townhouse in the village, Pierre began to conduct most of his business by mail rather than in-person.
If the Dumollards seemed happy before, they were absolutely euphoric after the birth of their second son. All of the residents of Dagneux were in love with Raymond. The sweet, adorable baby basked in attention everywhere he went.
Martin, on the other hand, had gained a reputation from an early age as a troublemaker. He became known for stealing, disrespecting his elders, and getting into an inordinate amount of fights for a boy of his age. He was a well-fed boy that grew to a large size. Due to his stature, he won all of the fights he started. The other residents had reached their wits end and were ready to confront his parents when the first of many misfortunes fell upon the family. In the wake of their bereavement the villagers dropped their complaints and decided against breaching the subject.
Raymond had fallen ill and died soon after. The loss was a shock and a tragedy, not just for the family, but the entire village. All of Dagneux grieved the baby together. Martin had been subdued by the death of his brother, retreating into himself. He grew sullen and silent as he allowed all of the pain and anger he didn't understand to simmer inside him. He was still only 3-years-old, having experienced the joy of life and the trauma of death all in the same year. If only this had been the only devastation to befall the household.
Martin didn't only have his own grief to contend with. He also had the shameful looks and admonishments of his neighbors and family each time he showed an ounce of his former spark. His rage was unleashed much more rarely as it was replaced with sorrow and anguish. On the occasions he did display anger, he was quickly cast back into silence when he was called by his brother's name by a villager. Deep down, Martin hated these people for weaponizing his own brother's death against him to make him behave the way they wanted him to. His response was to shut down and withdraw from everyone. When the next tragedy struck their family, he was in no position to handle it at his young age and in his tender state.
France had many interests in foreign countries. The closest to home was Napoleon's desire to see a unified Italy. Not only would this provide a strong and powerful ally, but it would also create a buffer between France and some of the expansionist powers that surrounded it. The Austrian Empire had similar reasons for not wanting a new power to rise on their western border. They assigned troops to ensure that the armies seeking unification were headed off at the pass. It wasn't long before the conflict spilled over into French territory despite the best efforts put forth by the Imperial army to push the Austrian forces back.
For the typical Frenchman this didn't mean much more than a different flag hanging. Beyond some damaged crops due to the soldiers plodding over top of them, there wasn't much to contend with. As long as they kept their heads down and did not try to violently resist, they were perfectly safe.
Pierre Dumollard, as he'd styled himself, was not the typical Frenchman. The former scion of Hungarian nobility still had a bounty on his head for his attempted coup. He also had a grieving family to look after. Packing everything of value into the back of a wagon, he fled with his wife and surviving son to the city-state of Padua in northern Italy. He'd known this place to be firmly against Austria, and had even found help there during his long trek from Hungary. He had found men in Padua willing to smuggle him to the relative safety of France as he fled in fear. He knew this would be the safest place for him and his family.
When he arrived he found that the Austrians had already beaten him there. Knowing he would only attract attention by turning around and leaving the way he came, Pierre pressed on through the city. He prayed that he would be able to move through the city and regroup elsewhere. As the soldiers watched intently, he nervously wound his way through the village.
A nobleman in the army noticed him as he tried to pass by. He recognized the man easily from a painting he'd seen of him. This was the very same Pierre Demola that had assisted in the assassination attempt on their emperor. The entire family, even little 4-year-old Martin, were locked up. Someone would need to be brought to the front lines to positively identify Pierre so they could be confident in the justice they took. In less than a month one of his old servants was brought forth. It took the man less than a minute to confidently say that this was the man he'd once worked for. Martin and his mother were both questioned about their knowledge of Pierre's past, but were quickly released having shown sufficient ignorance.
Though they had been released from jail, Marie-Josephte was penniless and unable to provide for her son. Even worse, she was stranded in a country where she knew no one and did not speak the language. She couldn't communicate her needs to anyone around her. A local in her situation could've easily been able to find help, but there was none for Martin and his mother. The two were left begging in the streets for whatever they could get while Marie tried desperately to find out what had become of her husband. They would find out along with everyone else in the city in the worst way possible.
Pierre was dragged out into the middle of the town square for all to observe the show of justice. He strained against his restraints to no avail as he sobbed and railed against his fate. Even if he had managed to free himself, it would've all been for nothing. The crowd had grown large and they had all come to see the impending execution. The onlookers were hungry for blood as they shouted in Italian. Marie-Josephte couldn't understand a word in their clamor as she pushed through the crowd with her young son at her side.
Public executions were normally performed quickly, but Pierre would know no such luxury. Instead, his final moments would be stretched out into an agonizing eternity. His four limbs were tied with ropes while the opposite ends of those ropes were each tied to a horse standing at the four corners of the square. This was an execution meant to be performed in an open area. Unfortunately for Pierre, the town square of Padua was not open enough for such a method. There wasn't enough room for the horses to build up to their full speed, thus ripping the limbs clean from his torso. Pierre would instead be pulled into the air to hang there as his joints slowly popped from their sockets. The guttural screams that erupted from the center of the square sent chills through Marie as she clambered to find out what was happening.
Despite the strain on the ropes, his limbs just wouldn't tear away. The uniformed executioner had to improvise to end this botched execution as quickly as possible. As beheadings were long in the past by that point there was nothing on hand to hasten the prisoner's death. He grabbed an ax used by the barracks to chop wood. A far blunter tool than needed, but it would have to work. The man set to work cutting off Pierre's limbs himself. He lived through most of the excruciating torment and the crowd pressed in ever-closer as his screams fed their barbaric need for suffering.
Marie-Josephte was desperate as she clawed her way to the front of the crowd unsuccessfully. In her final manic attempt to find out what was happening to her husband, she disregarded her son and his early development altogether. She raised Martin above the ravenous crowd to see for himself what was happening and let her know. Martin rose over the sea of angry onlookers just as the ax was raised in the air. The young boy watched in horror as his father was hacked apart by a dull blade while the crowd cheered and shouted.
It wasn't until the angry mob had dispersed that the distraught wife and mother finally saw the extent of what her husband had suffered through. Her grief was palpable and it settled deep inside of her like an old house settles into its foundation. She would spend the rest of her days absolutely consumed by it. She was no longer able to care for herself, let alone her son. From there it was up to Martin to look after his mother's needs as he forced food between her lips and pushed her along the whole way home.
Marie-Josephte's reaction to her husband's mangled body was hard for passersby to miss. Though her words weren't understood, her tears and anguish spoke volumes. She was quickly recognized as the wife of a traitor and was chased out of town along with her son. What few scant belongings were left to them by this point were left in the street as a throng of people gathered to pursue them.
Mother and son were forced to make the long, arduous journey back to France with nothing to their names. As she was too grief-stricken to provide for him, Martin learned to hunt rabbits with sticks and rocks out of pure necessity. Marie would rouse to cook whatever Martin brought back with him and he would force-feed her to keep her going. In this cruel, harsh environment, the young boy became feral with hunger. While rabbits were better than nothing at all, such small game would not sustain him for too long.
The worst of their travels came when they reached the war zone between France and Italy. If they were in a bad state before, then they were outright fighting for survival during this leg of their trip. The battles in the area had run off any small game that would've been in the area. There was nothing for Martin to hunt, so he turned to scavenging. As they walked right past the dead, decomposing bodies of men killed in battle, Martin grabbed whatever rations these men had on them before death. For the cold nights, he would steal clothes off of corpses to cover himself and his mother in for warmth. Any weapons or medals were tossed to the side in favor of items to aid in their survival. These things were nothing more than unnecessary trinkets to have to carry on a long journey home.
They wouldn't flounder in the fields of the dead forever. In the middle of this war torn region they found help from the French forces. Mistaken for refugees driven from their home, they were taken in and protected. These men cared for them as Martin remained ever-silent and Marie sobbed continuously. For a short time, the traumatized pair were held up as a symbol of everything the French were fighting for. When they were finally able, mother and son were passed safely along a supply line. They were finally going home.
When they arrived back in Salins-les-Thermes, Marie leaned heavily upon her family to care for in her mostly catatonic state. She was never again able to hold a job or even complete the day-to-day tasks of caring for herself. Having lost her husband in such a gruesome manner so soon after losing her own baby, the poor woman was broken beyond repair. With members of her family devoted to caring for her while she contributed nothing, they lived in destitution. To Marie-Josephte, none of it mattered. She'd lost most of the family she'd loved so much and couldn't even bring herself to cherish the one piece she had left.
From the time that they arrived home, Martin had continued to live as he had on his journey back. Choosing to live outdoors and hunt small game for food, he distanced himself from his mother as soon as they returned. He didn't seem to mind the odd lifestyle now that the added pressure of keeping his mother alive had been eliminated. She could rely on her family while he relied upon himself. From the age of 4 until he turned 8, Martin would live this way. He gained a reputation in the village as the boy that hunted rabbits with his sling and stones, sometimes eating them raw.
At 8-years-old, Martin was deemed old enough to go to work. Considering the reputation he earned most wouldn't have considered him employable. Luckily for him, he lived in rural France in the 1800s, a time and place where his particular skill set could be utilized by many. Though he had already been living on his own for four years, accepting his first job as a shepherd in another village put even more distance between him and his family.
He made himself at home in the pastures he was now responsible for looking over. For Martin, it really was home. He lived as a hermit among the sheep he cared for and looked after. This life away from the judging eyes of civilization was ideal for him. He made frequent visits to the village, where he was always noticed. Each time he came down from the pastures he was sporting another new scar or injury from his life in the wild. The numerous markings on his face and body from injury added up until his appearance became unsettling to most.
When winter came to settle upon the rural area, Martin was forced to come down from the pasture to find whatever odd jobs he could on farms. The back-breaking work expected of him due to his size paid very little. The young boy was barely making enough to get by when he fell from a hayloft and injured his back while working. He was put out of commission for several days as he recovered in the same loft he fell from. In that short amount of time he likely wasn't able to completely heal. When he was finally able to stand again, he was plagued by intense pain that dogged his every step. He began to walk with a hunch to ease his discomfort.
This was just another adage to his already displeasing appearance. With a scarred face, a hunched back, and the odor of a life lived outdoors that followed everywhere he went, he was an assault to the senses. It was made all the worse by a severely swollen lower lip that formed as he reached adulthood. He explained this injury away as the result of a battle with a beast in the pastures he once tended. He described the strange animal as looking like something between a marmot and a polecat.
While Martin was willing to continue work at the farm he was injured at, the owners didn't feel comfortable allowing him to work after such a trauma. They seemed concerned enough for his physical safety, but not his well-being. He was let go with no pension to get by until he could find another job. A situation that most wouldn't have been able to survive Martin saw as a mere inconvenience. He only needed to scrape by until spring, when he could return to the pastures.
The rest of that winter things went missing from all over the village. At first nothing of value was taken. Oftentimes it was just food, even raw meat, that went missing from people's homes. A wolf or feral dog that had gained the ability to enter homes was actually suspected of taking the food. When jewelry and heirlooms started vanishing in the night, villagers became much more irritated by the situation. Finally residents of the area began to suspect a human being of the thefts and sent word for police involvement.
By the time an officer arrived at the village, Martin was long gone to visit his family. He had no idea that law enforcement had been sent for. He just happened to get lucky when he decided that it was time for a visit home. On his way there, he sold the stolen items in the villages he passed. While he had plenty to sell, he ate good food and plenty of it. By the time his wares finally began to dry up the first signs of spring could be seen blossoming across the countryside.
Though his original plan had been to set out for the pastures once springtime arrived, he knew that he couldn't return to the village after having stolen so much. His father's execution was a fresh wound in his memory. He was terrified of suffering the same fate that he witnessed that horrible day. Instead, he chose to travel along the Ain, finding whatever odd jobs he could pick up. The work caused him an immense amount of pain, but he had no other way of supporting himself.
His ability to push through the pain and work hard earned him a good reputation throughout the area. When the master of the castle of Sure came looking for a new staff member to add to the ranks of the household, Martin came highly recommended by a dozen people. With a secure position in a rich man's home accepted, he made the long trip to Saint-Andre-de-Corcy to present himself to his new master, Guichard. Such a hike would've been tough for many men, but not Martin. He made his way to the castle without hardly even having to stop to catch his breath.
His appearance most certainly caught Guichard off guard. Martin found himself having to explain away his hunched back and the scar running straight through his protruding swollen lip. The man was taken aback hearing the tale of the beast that had supposedly caused the injury to his lip. The scar lent credence to his story so the matter was never pressed. As the master of the house entertained too many wealthy, powerful guests, he couldn't very well have someone that looked like Martin working inside the house. Instead, he would tend to the cows and chickens that supplied the house with milk and eggs. He would also tend to the horses and mark out hunting trails for visitors that enjoyed the sport.
He was issued livery to wear on the job and escorted to the yard by the butler. This is where all of his work would be located. Any corner of the land he chose was his to make his home. He couldn't recall being happier anywhere else in his entire life. He had a good paying job, a home suited to him, and food that he didn't have to hunt. Life was good at that point in time.
Despite the throbbing in his back, Martin never faltered in his work. No matter how heavy or difficult the job, he could get it done. It didn't take long for him to fall right into place at the castle, truly enjoying his work. Even the butler, who had initially been put off by him, had to admit that no one else would've been better suited to the position.
Normally he only wandered into the house when an order needed to be received or something heavy needed to be lifted. His mornings were spent doing simple chores in the yard. In the afternoons he carried his well-oiled routine onto the land accompanying the house as a makeshift gamekeeper. He would keep the paths clear and keep an eagle eye out for encroaching predators or game. Preferring his solitude, he always worked alone.
For a while he opted to take his meals alone as well. After everyone living and working in the house had gone to bed for the night, he would come in and take the leftover scraps from both the servants' and the master's meals. It was the first time he'd ever tasted the rich, decadent kind of food his father spoke of in hushed tones when he was small. After a lifetime living off the land and his own wits, he didn't have the palate to appreciate the delicious findings he was taking each night.
The silent, hulking man working the grounds intrigued the young maids of the house. The servants were equally fascinated by the man rumored to be an orphan of the Austrian war. The other employees took pity on him for his situation and asked the butler to invite him to join them all for dinner. Thinking he was in trouble for taking scraps, he agreed. If the maids and servants of the house thought that they were about to crack open the vault that was Martin Dumollard, they were sadly disappointed. He would smile and nod when addressed, but spoke very little. He wasn't there to make friends or conversation. He was simply there because he thought it to be an order from his boss.
The servants quickly lost interest when it became evident that they weren't going to get much out of him. The maids just thought him to be bashful. Since no one ever confronted Martin about his silence, he went on as normal believing it was perfectly acceptable. Eventually Martin's novelty wore off when his silence failed to and he became just another fixture on the castle grounds. This suited him just fine as he was accustomed to keeping to himself anyway.
After a time many of the other staff members began to find Martin's unbreakable silence repelling. All except one woman, who found it to be spellbinding. Much like Martin's mother, Marie-Anne didn't have much in the way of marriage prospects before the arrival of the new groundskeeper. Without an eligible bachelor in walking distance of the castle she worked and lived in, her chances of finding a husband had been slim to none. She was too lowborn to be considered for marriage to a nobleman, and too far from the village to pursue a relationship with a villager of her social standing. It comes as no surprise that between the two of them neither had any experience in courtship.
The relationship started off romantically, but Marie-Anne began to taper her expectations when she realized how simpleminded her new boyfriend was. She couldn't really be sure of how capable Martin was of love. The truth was, he was quite capable and grew to love her very much. For such a large man, he could be so gentle and affectionate. His kisses were much softer than she likely anticipated and he held so gently that he never even creased her bodice. As the two took strolls through the pathways that Martin kept clear she would hold his arm the whole way along.
Before the blossoming of their relationship, Martin had nothing to spend the money he earned on. He had been perfectly happy to let it all pile up in the desk drawer of the butler's office as his home and meals were paid for. After the unfamiliar feeling of love settled in, he began setting it aside to buy a beautiful gift for the woman that had stolen his heart.
Of course, there were whispers among the staff about inappropriate relations taking place between the two of them. No evidence was ever seen to suggest that these were any more than they were, rumors. Since the happy couple kept their respective jobs done to perfection and took little time for themselves, the matter was never brought up. Guichard actually found himself quite amused by the fact that Martin had taken up with one of the housemaids. Their romance filled his heart with joy. Two of his most trusted and loyal employees had found each other under his roof as though fate had stepped in and led them to one another.
For years their relationship moved at a snails pace. Maybe Martin thought that they were simply playing at romance in their little corner of the world. They maintained their PG-13 romance for so long that it became just another part of life at the house. The rest of the staff became accustomed to it. Perhaps even comforted by the stability of it. They also found convenience in it as the lumbering man was willing to come inside and lift anything for the apple of his eye. Difficult jobs no longer required outside help since Marie-Anne could just ask Martin.
The two were always scheduled off work together so they could have the day to themselves to while away as they pleased. Not wanting to keep them apart for long, they were even allowed time throughout the day to see each other as they worked. This was just as common to the rest of the staff as a regular delivery.
Martin and Marie-Anne seemed to compliment each other well. Where he was quieter and more reserved, she was perfectly capable of speaking up for him. He also became a more respected member of the staff through his relationship with her. For the first time Martin had a normal life for a man of his age. There was just one thing. Their romance didn't seem to be progressing past the stage of hand-holding and quickly stolen kisses in private. Marie-Anne was looking for more than just a pre-teen romance in her adulthood. Marriage was the next natural step, but her simple boyfriend seemed all too happy to continue as they were.
The under-educated man had no knowledge of the carnal pleasures of the bedroom. Hoping to lure him into a proposal, the cunning maid started hinting at the wonders that awaited only married men. When just talking about the act wasn't enough to get a ring on her finger, she stepped her game up to another level. Her kisses became lingering, with much more longing attached to them. Then, she began revealing glimpses of the parts of her body obscured by clothing. Though Martin had no understanding of sex, he could easily understand the feelings that she stirred up inside of him.
Martin was unsure about the prospect of marriage. The love of his life had been more like a replacement for the mother he lost to grief during the Austrian war. She became his voice, his conscience, and the one person he could share his deepest thoughts and feelings with. He knew that he couldn't lose her, but he hadn't been responsible for caring for another person since the long trek back to France when he was just 4-years-old. The thought filled him with the fear that he may fail and disappoint his wife. Along with his fear a realization settled in. With a loving wife at home, he wouldn't be able to live and work out in the wild as he had all of his life.
The worry hung heavily over Martin's head. He knew that if they married, they could no longer live and work at the house for Guichard. The couple would have no choice but to strike out on their own, and Martin had never had an easy time finding work within the villages. Due to his size and appearance, he could only find jobs that were either on farms or out in the pastures for months on end, tending to sheep. With the warm love of a woman at home, he wasn't prepared to accept a position that would keep him away for long.
Eventually, he let his worries and fears fall by the wayside and gave in to his soon-to-be bride. He proposed, much to Marie-Anne's delight, and the two were married in the estate's chapel. All of their co-workers attended, and even Guichard could be seen at the back of the chapel with tears in his eyes at the sight of pure love before him.
As a very generous wedding gift, Guichard wanted to ensure that two of his longest-serving and most loyal employees were taken care of before they left the care of his home. He provided them with a large nest egg to start their new life with. After their years of service, it was the least he could do. Despite his noble, selfless offering, the newlyweds still made off with some of their master's silverware when they departed. Their fear of being caught and executed for the theft carried them through the night as they fled the scene of the crime as quickly as possible. They were convinced that they were being pursued, but they were not. Guichard didn't trouble himself with reporting their crime. He didn't feel that some silverware was worth putting the new husband and wife in stockades.
For several days their anxiety and panic fueled them as they pressed ever-onward. The original plan after lifting the silverware had been to flee to Geneva to start their life anew in Switzerland. Earth's most beautiful gem likely sounded quite attractive, not only for its distance, but for its breath-taking grandeur. As it slowly became apparent that no one was following them, they began to steady their pace for the first time since they left like thieves in the night. When they reached the commune of Le Montellier in the Ain, they found a cute little cottage befitting their image of the life they intended for themselves. With the takings from their previous job, they were able to afford it and moved in immediately. Now their honeymoon bliss could truly begin without the looming fear of pursuers.
Both were deliriously happy during the first week together in their new home. Between the money gifted to them upon their departure and the stolen wares, they were able to live within their new home, hardly leaving it for any reason for around a week or so. Martin was overjoyed at learning the pleasures he'd been missing out on for so long. Marie-Anne was positively thrilled to no longer be working in a richer man's house. She could finally settle into her new role as a housewife as was expected at that time. After the hastened trek and their brief honeymoon period, the money was starting to run low. Martin's bride could plainly see that in order to uphold this new lifestyle, he would need to get back to work. At her command, he dutifully trotted off into the commune in search of a job.
The going was tough for Martin in the job market of his time. He wanted to find something that would ensure he would return to his wife and the pleasures of their bedroom nightly. For a man of his appearance and stature, this was easier said than done. He tried his hand at fishing in the northern lakes when he joined up with a crew, but he couldn't find his sea legs. Overtaken by seasickness, he was a disruption to the trip and only managed to anger the other men on board. Though this was his final attempt at fishing, it wasn't his last attempt at finding another occupation. Nothing seemed to fit the natural outdoorsman.
He managed to find some odd jobs here and there around the village, but they paid little. Marie-Anne had become accustomed to a certain kind of lifestyle living at Guichard's house over the years. Though she hadn't been spoiled to the very best of things, she still expected to be provided for sufficiently. Her new husband hardly seemed up to the task. As time went on, he began selling the stolen silverware and the clothes that his wife had outgrown. This still hardly brought in enough money to support them. At this point, all efforts went towards trying to uphold the lifestyle they had started out with in that first week or so of marriage. They were floundering in their attempts to keep it all standing.
As their situation became more strained, they quickly found that there would be no help from the other villagers. On the occasions that they did decide to leave their home after first arriving, they flaunted their money like lottery winners. They lived well for a short time and did not care to hide it from anyone. Now that they had nothing, their neighbors had nothing for them. The way they all saw it, the Dumollards had it coming. They had blown into town showing off like they were royalty and in the process royally blown it with the other villagers. The newlyweds certainly weren't winning any popularity contests in their new commune.
Martin found work as a farmhand here and there for different farmers, but he still wasn't making enough to maintain their household. As tightly as they gripped onto their home and life, it was quickly slipping through their fingers like sand. Eventually everything would have to go.
Though Martin had severed his ties with his family of his own accord, they managed to track him down to Saint-Andre-de-Corcy. He began receiving letters that Marie-Anne would have to read to him as he had never learned to read. Due to their theft, he hadn't left a forwarding address for his mail upon departure from his previous job. His appearance made it quite easy for them to track him down again to Le Montellier. When they finally reached him at his new residence it was with bad news.
It would seem that after years of caring for his mother, Martin's family had cast her aside to fend for herself. From there, she fell further into poverty until there was no hope of clawing her way back out. She died alone with nothing to her name. Martin hadn't seen his mother since he left home to work in the pastures at 8-years-old. The feeling was likely still the same gut-punching, heart-wrenching blow. Though he hadn't seen her in many years, she was still the last living tie to his father and brother.
Along with the inevitable grief, the loss also made Martin realize the dire state of his own situation. If his mother died penniless the very same could happen to him if he didn't make a change. He could already feel the purse strings tightening around his neck.
In the midst of his grief and the crushing realization of his quickly encroaching poverty, Martin had one more revelation. With no further ties to his nuclear family, he could feel more free to return to his childhood home of Dagneux. He could feel more anonymous returning to his old stomping grounds where he'd once held such a bad reputation. After so many years, the constant fights and the trouble he was known for causing had long been forgotten. He would have the ability to blend in as seamlessly as someone with his appearance could.
Backed into a corner with nothing left to sell, they were finally forced to sell their cottage. The discouraged couple let it go for as much money as they could get for it before retreating to Martin's home village. Along with the home, they sold off every piece of furniture and clothing that was left to fund their move. Having learned a hard and valuable lesson from their previous mistakes, they chose to move into a home more befitting of their financial standing. They bought an isolated hovel just outside of the village and moved in what little they had left. At this point, they didn't have much beyond the clothes on their backs.
It didn't take long for Martin's distinctive features to spark the memories of the elder villagers. They clearly remembered his face, but his youthful transgressions had been forgotten along with his name. While he and his wife were welcomed with open arms to their new home, all of the villagers referred to him as Raymond. It was likely a crushing blow that only compounded the loss of his mother. Because he was too socially awkward to even speak to anyone, he never corrected them. He chose instead to carry on going by his deceased brother's name, never speaking up for himself.
In his desperate attempts to find work, he continued to find only odd jobs that paid very little. Their land couldn't be used for farming, either. This made little difference as neither had the talent for the occupation anyway.
Marie-Anne became less affectionate towards her husband as their circumstances worsened. She grew cold and distant as he tried his best to provide for her to no avail. His efforts always fell short as they remained fixed in poverty. A new kind of desperation overtook him as he hopelessly tried all he could to earn her love. Something had to give if he was ever going to fall back into her good graces.
Martin decided upon the life of a highwayman to turn their fortune around. He told his wife that he was going to the city of Lyon to look for work before departing for a much more nefarious reason. Knowing that he would be risking both his and Marie-Anne's home and freedom, he made the conscious decision to travel further before committing any crimes. He made his way toward Lyon and left the road to hide in a thicket for some poor, unfortunate traveler to pass by.
As Martin lay in wait for a lone traveler, he soon noticed that not many seemed foolhardy enough to trek through the Ain region alone. The roads in that area were known to be quite dangerous. They were crawling with deserters of the Imperial armies during the conflict with the Prussians. These men turned to banditry as a means of supporting themselves as any attempts at finding legal work would lead to their execution for the crime of desertion. They had the advantage of combat training and weaponry taken from the front lines. All Martin had was a rock and a stick. They had always served him well before.
His first attempt at a robbery was an epic failure. As he tried to stop a horse-drawn wagon with threats, he was laughed at by the driver while they continued past. Martin felt the sting of humiliation and defeat as his target laughed his way down the road, leaving him in the dust. He crept back into his thicket a beaten man. Though he had failed, he did learn a lesson. Rather than threatening his intended target, he would just pounce, beating them until they either gave up everything they had or ran. He quickly ran into another problem, though. Due to the area's reputation for banditry no one carried much money when traveling through it.
Even after several robberies, Martin hadn't made enough to get he and Marie-Anne through the week. He also realized that staying in one place for too long would certainly lead to his capture. He couldn't risk the police of Lyon pursuing him, but he also couldn't return home with so little. To solve both issues, he headed cross-country in search of different roads with new victims to prey upon.
It was when he noticed a young woman traveling alone that he realized his previous mistake in trying to rob soldiers and merchants. A woman would be much easier to overcome. As she carried her basket of eggs along the road, the unnamed maiden was completely unaware of the hulking man stalking after her. In a flurry of powerful blows he attacked, knocking her to the ground. When he fell upon her grabbing at her clothing it was not to look for money. By this time he'd figured out that he would find none. Instead, Martin stripped her of her clothing, leaving her naked in the woods.
After taking her dress, bonnet, and undergarments, he dragged her small, limp, unconscious body into a thicket to hide his crime until she came to. With just this one terrible act he had doubled his takings for the day. By some horrible stroke of luck the dress hadn't been ruined in the attack and would fetch a decent price. He could sell it on his way home, or he could even hoard clothing and take a large amount in at once for a heftier sum. Even if clothes were stained during an attack it wouldn't be any trouble to clean them. Stains wouldn't affect the prices much anyway. All he really needed to worry about was tearing the clothing up.
He decided to wander home with what he had, selling his stolen wares in a village on the way. When he returned to his wife, she was more than happy with him. Martin basked in the glow of her love and attention for the first time in too long. The rest of that day was like a glorious return to their honeymoon bliss. That is, until Marie-Anne finally asked where the money had come from.
Martin had never been any good at lying. He just didn't maintain the wit to think on his feet. He broke down into tears as he explained what happened. He'd never known the kind of overwhelming shame that he felt in that moment. His indignity didn't come from the fact that he had violently assaulted and robbed a woman in the woods. No, he was ashamed for having brought such dishonor upon his wife. Martin told her that he understood if she could no longer love him. She just sank down into her seat in contemplative silence as he stood before her, fearing the worst.
The moments that passed before she spoke again likely felt like an eternity to the man waiting to hear the fate of his marriage. He fell to his knees, hoping to find her understanding rather than her scorn. When she raised her hand, he expected the sting of a hard slap to punish him for his misdeeds. Instead, she simply stroked his hair as though he were her favorite pet. Martin nestled into her loving gesture like an abused animal. She prompted her husband to tell her everything from start to finish. Nodding along, she only spoke up to point out his mistakes, like leaving the girl alive to identify his distinctive features.
Marie-Anne had no intention of turning him over to face the Emperor's harsh justice. She knew that if she did, she would be alone with no one to support her. Pointing to the state of undress he left his victim in, she commented that while many might ridicule her and speculate to her virtue, some kind soul may take pity. Her simple husband had never been one to trouble himself much about the future. Martin had lived his entire life to merely survive from one day to the next. It never occurred to him to think further down the road. Marie-Anne, like most women, was prone to casting her gaze ahead as she planned for every inevitability. How lucky he was to have someone so capable of planning their future.
Throughout the remainder of the night the two discussed the practicalities of their awful new money-making scheme. While Marie-Anne contributed forethought, Martin offered practical sense from his days spent living in the wild and hunting his own food. He had a good sense of how much force was needed to incapacitate a person, while his wife would know well the value of his takings and how to sort them. She also knew that they couldn't merely rely upon happenstance if they were going to support themselves this way. There would need to be a solid plan in place for securing these women and ensuring that Martin could get them away from any witnesses. She knew that she couldn't rely on her husband's wits to lure these women out. Until dawn she drilled him on his script until he knew it as well as his own name.
The scheme was simple. Martin would travel to the city of Lyon in search of young maids looking for work. He'd offer a job paying an outrageous amount of money, but required the maid to move out into the country. Of course, Martin would accompany them as he lugged all of their belongings in the big trunk he slung across his back. The couple's extensive experience working in a rich man's house gave them the ability to splice their story with convincing details. Adages like nice suits and even horses gave the appearance of a well-kept servant, true to his word.
His first victim was not his first intended victim. He had intended a woman named Marie Cart, but fortunately for her things didn't work out in his favor. When he came across a woman named Marie Baday, he found the perfect target for such a devious act. She had recently lost her job in one of the local houses and her landlady was breathing hard down her back for rent. Though she had family residing within the city, she wasn't in close contact with them.
It was her landlady, Madeleine Aussandon, that last saw her alive. It was after an explosive argument that Baday stormed out, declaring she wouldn't be back to her rented room. She proclaimed that she had accepted a better offer and would be leaving town immediately. Martin stood outside waiting for her as he had not been permitted inside. When she exited after their heated exchange, she carried all of her worldly possessions with her in her arms. The kindly yet odd-looking stranger dutifully loaded all of her belongings into his chest before hefting it onto his back for the long road ahead. Baday easily walked away from her old life without sparing a single glance back. She had been just the kind of willing victim Martin had been hoping to procure.
Baday left the city owing her landlady money. Payment that Madeleine Aussandon would never receive. It's not likely that she ever intended on squaring her debt away with the woman she'd left on bad terms with. Of course, we'll never know for sure what might have been as Baday's body was found several weeks later in the forests of Montaverne in Tramoyes.
A group of men hunting deer had been unfortunate enough to run across Baday's decomposing corpse on their innocent excursion. One man from the group stayed behind to protect the body from scavenging animals while the others retreated for help. As he waited in the eerie silence of the forest, he began making further discoveries. Scattered around in the bushes surrounding the scene were articles of clothing so blood-stained they were completely ruined. A handkerchief, a collar, a black lace cap, and a pair of shoes were found discarded.
Magistrate Genod made the journey to the quiet, isolated part of the forest that Baday last saw before her death. He had the grim task of examining the remains. Decomposition had almost obscured the fact that she had been sexually assaulted, but the experienced magistrate could see the signs in front of him. In this time such a crime could hardly be uttered. Genod described her as having been the victim of 'gross outrage.'
Six bludgeoning wounds were made to her head and body. Her head wounds were found to have mostly coagulated, but the wounds to her body were thought to have occurred after she was knocked unconscious and stripped naked. The first blow had been to the back of her head, suggesting her attacker sneaked up from behind, catching her unaware to prevent a struggle. The magistrate assumed the rape to be the motive for her attack. Her missing clothes were probably further scattered throughout the forest. Of course, none of that was true.
Given the evidence before him, Magistrate Genod can be forgiven for his mistake. Baday's missing belongings had in fact been stolen for resale in another village. The rape was committed out of mere convenience. After so long away from the tender love of his wife, Martin succumbed to the urge of intimacy. It didn't seem to matter that it was unwanted. Martin only ever concerned himself with survival from one moment to the next. He was simply filling two needs that he felt important to his survival in that moment.
Her body was taken back to Tramoyes to be identified by anyone who may know her. As she wasn't from that area, this proved impossible. Genod had a strange idea, though. He called for the famous photographer, Camille Bernabe, to take pictures of the body posed similarly to the way she was found. With her body laid out in the forecourt of the church of Tramoyes, the haunting pictures that would identify her were taken.
Once developed, the gruesome images were distributed to all of the local authorities and towns. Servants of the court of magistrates were responsible for traveling from one village to the next, showing the disturbing pictures to any and everyone that could be able to identify her. After several months it must have started to feel as though they'd never return this girl's name to her. Then, an identification was finally made. Unfortunately, it was the wrong person altogether.
The remains were declared to be that of a missing girl named Marceline Ganelli. For the next several weeks all of her known associates were looked into. When Marie Baday's family finally caught sight of the morbid picture, they knew it was her. They were not only grief-stricken by the loss of their loved one, but aghast at the misidentification. Still, it would not be accepted that the remains were that of Baday until her parents could make the trip to confirm that the items found belonged to their daughter. The black lace cap was hard for her mother to not recognize as she had carefully and lovingly selected it as a gift. Now that authorities had the correct identity, they could make some real headway in this case. Or, that's what they thought.
The investigation shifted to the men in Baday's life back in Lyon. The prime suspect in Genod's crosshairs was a man named Jacques Verger, who was thought to have been courting her in the days leading up to her death. Jacques was actually jailed for three months until evidence proving he had still been inside the city at the time of her murder exonerated him.
With Jacques cleared and released, investigators started looking into possible sex criminals that she could've unwittingly crossed paths with. Immediately one man came to mind. Martin Mauriat was a convicted rapist with a methodology strikingly similar to Dumollard's. He would also catch his victims unaware and knock them out cold with a blitz attack before forcing himself upon them. As savage as his crimes were, they paled in comparison to Dumollard's atrocities. The theory was that Mauriat had become a more brutal man in the time since his last conviction. While he wouldn't be the first convicted rapist to decide after a few prison stints to never leave a witness again, that wasn't the case here.
Mauriat hadn't been tracked since his last release from prison, but all of his old hang-outs were well known to local police. The magistrate just wasted his time checking into his movements after he was freed. It was found that he was still in prison at the time of the killing. He couldn't have been the culprit they were looking for. It would appear that they were back to square one, having followed another lead right into a brick wall.
Much to Marie-Anne's pleasure, Martin returned with the bounty of stolen goods taken from his first victim. She would set to work sorting and valuing the items before they were sold off for whatever francs the merchants were willing to pay. No sooner than Martin had come home, he was sent right back out to obtain another victim. After all, Marie Cart had conveyed to him that she needed the month to consider her options. It was already time to check back in with her.
Cart had trepidations about leaving the city so move so far away. In the time since she had last seen the seemingly kind stranger offering work, she had gained another reason to stay. Sometime within that month she had taken up with a man and had grown quite fond of him. Feeling the heavy weight of guilt for having him travel so far just to be declined, Cart felt that she had to make it up to him. She decided to introduce him to a friend of her's in need of a better paying job.
Olympe Alabert was already employed in Lyon, but the job paid little and she was hoping to better her fortunes. Martin's offer seemed like a dream come true. Though she would have to leave the comforts of the city for the quiet, uneventful countryside, she would be paid much more than her current salary. She could also expect her own living quarters already prepared for her, eliminating the expense of rent. Such an offer had to seem too good to be true.
Olympe quickly readied her things and was set to leave when he arrived for her. She wasn't about to let this opportunity get away from her. Any woman in the city would be chomping at the bit for a position like this. A fact that Martin soon found to be true, himself. Though the picture of Marie Baday's decomposing corpse was in circulation at this time, it never crossed Olympe's mind that she should be wary of strangers. Especially when they make enticing offers.
While his newest prey walked away from her life without a backwards glance or even a thought for her safety, Martin was nervous. During his previous visit to Lyon he had gotten to know Cart some. He had gotten an idea of what kind of goods she would be bringing. He didn't know what to expect from this new girl. Without a good excuse to decline her and his wife expecting him not to come home empty-handed, he took her on.
Just as he had before and as he would continue to do, he loaded all of Olympe's effects into his large chest. What seemed like a kind gesture was really a trap. Even if these women ran from him, they would have no money or belongings left to their name. This would play into their decision to flee. As we'll find, many quickly abandoned their worldly possessions in the pursuit of survival. As survival had always been so important to Martin, it's hard to believe that even as dimwitted as he was, he never considered how strong the instinct to survive is.
Olympe happily followed this unfamiliar character as they set out to an imaginary estate between Neuville-sur-Saone and Miribel. Traveling in the direction of the forest of Montaverne, she finally felt anxiety start to build, rattling her from the inside out. Though she hadn't allowed the thought to cross her mind at the time, she had heard all about Baday's murder in those woods. As her simple travel companion started making conversation, she began to feel more at ease. Her rattled nerves steadied at the realization of his limitations. A man as slow as he surely couldn't be considered a threat to anyone's safety.
As they plodded along their way, Martin told stories and asked questions. Harmless ones, really. Like a new employer trying to learn more about his employee. At the time none of the inquiries seemed off. Was she close with her family? Would she require payment upon arrival, or did she bring some savings along to tide her over? She happily answered his questions, taking note of how they seemed to circle back to money. Figuring his lower intelligence kept him circling back to the same subjects, she thought nothing of it.
As they approached the forest in the orange glow of the sunset, Olympe's nerves returned, heightening to full-on apprehension. She proclaimed that she couldn't travel through the woods at night. Suddenly, she was overtaken by an impulse to save herself from harm. Olympe said that they needed to find shelter at a farmhouse for the night and start again in the morning. Not unkindly, Martin urged her to continue on with him, saying that they were just a short walk from their destination. As Olympe knew the location to be much further than that, she immediately became suspicious. Panic began to rise in her chest as Martin assured her that they were only a few hours away.
As her panic turned to outright alarm, she turned tail and sprinted from the hideous, burly man that had led her so far from home. Martin dropped the chest to the ground with a heavy thud before stooping to pick up a rock from the ground. Olympe was charging ahead, allowing her legs to carry her practically into flight. Her stride was unfaltering when the heavy rock cut through the air and struck her in the middle of her back. The wind was knocked clear out of her lungs, making it impossible to scream or draw breath. Able to do nothing more than gasp for air, her legs continued to propel her forward. She could hear another stone piercing the wind that rushed past as it sailed past her ear. This only fueled her flight as she continued to put more and more distance between her and this dangerous behemoth.
After the long day's walk, Martin was unable to keep up with his victim's adrenaline rush. While the main intention of walking these girls into the woods was to ensure no one would witness his crimes, there was also another benefit he'd likely expected. Long journeys through the forest weren't the type of excursion young maids normally engaged in. Martin probably expected to wear these women out on terrain that he was accustomed to traveling. He never figured in the rush of adrenaline or a potential victim growing suspicious early on in the journey.
As Olympe burst through the treeline she could plainly see tendrils of smoke rising like long, twisted fingers in the air, beckoning her to safety. She sprinted towards the nearest plume, never slowing her stride in fear for her life. Her feet slapped through the mud of a farmer's front yard as she bolted for the cottage's front door. Her heavy breathing was the only thing that could be heard aside from her urgent pounding on the door. As her hands began to sting with the effort, a woman finally answered. Looking at this dirty, frightened girl on her doorstep, she let her in. For the remainder of the night all of the farmhouse's residents stayed awake and alert, waiting for any who would come looking for this poor maid.
Banditry was a common nuisance on the very edge of civilization. It wasn't out of the ordinary for a bandit to chase their victims all the way up to someone's door, either. Staying ever-vigil was just another part of life so far from the populous cities, where witnesses freely flooded the streets.
When the morning light rose and bathed the countryside in a feeling of warmth and protection, the young maid was escorted back to the city of Lyon by a host of farmers. She was taken straight to the authorities to file a complaint on her attack and the theft of her belongings. While she never expected to have her things returned to her, she hoped to prevent some other poor woman from experiencing what she had out in that dark, foreboding forest. As the first surviving victim of Martin's greedy, bloodthirsty scheme, Olympe proved an invaluable asset to the investigation. She would at least be able to get them on the right track as they hadn't even come close to it yet.
She was able to provide a solid description of the unattractive, unassuming man that had led her off to what he must've intended to be her death. She was also able to provide them with his method for luring victims away. One detail they did not expect to hear from her was that the perpetrator was French. Before, they had been working under the misguided assumption that no Frenchman would dare attack a fellow Frenchman. It was a firmly held belief that all violent crime committed in France was perpetrated by foreigners. Martin Dumollard shattered all of their beliefs when the magistrates realized they were looking for a man in his 50s with a hunched back, a scarred face, and a misshapen lip.
After his first failure with Olympe, Martin became more adept at ensnaring and burying his victims. Unfortunately, the case of Marie Baday had also been closed once Jacques Verger was jailed for the murder. With the magistrates believing the case to be closed and the offender locked up, they were no longer looking for a killer of young French maids. Only the few lucky enough to escape his grasp were able to tell their stories of terror to magistrates that were wary of their claims. There was also no way of knowing that women were going missing at all. Missing persons reports were unheard of in the 1850s. During that time it was common for people to move on to an entirely different location to find work without giving notice.
Josephte Chartletty was a maid at Vernaison in the eastern stretch of Lyon's metropolitan area. While shopping one day in the crowded market near the town's guillotine for her master, she was approached by an unsightly man. He claimed to have a job opening for a maid in Cotiere that paid much better than her current position. Initially, she was put off by the idea of having to leave the city and everything she knew just to accept the job. The offer of more money without the worry of rent finally swayed her. She would just need a little time to get her affairs in order before leaving. Martin, himself, seemed to be put off by her request to wait, but agreed with no complaints. He realized that suspicions were more likely to be raised if she left without a word to anyone.
They met again near the guillotine on September 22, 1855, to set out on their journey through Le Plateau, a neighborhood of La Croix-Rousse. He told Josephte that they would be traveling towards the Fort of de Montessuy from there. Martin made sure to lay out a route that was known to be well away from any bandits and under the watchful eye of the Imperial army's men. This would make the young woman feel more at ease traveling alone with him as he hauled all of her belongings on his back.
The tactic seemed to work as Josephte happily and comfortably chatted with Martin throughout the day as they walked. Although, the way the topic kept clumsily shifting back towards her money and savings put her ill at ease. The mere facade of civility was enough to keep her silent on the matter, though. As long as he wasn't willing to shatter the illusion, she would carry on as though there were no reasons to be nervous. She had no idea that there was only a thin sham of deceit separating her from the real beast.
As the day wore on and the pair traveled further and further from civilization, Josephte began voicing her concerns about continuing after dark. They were wandering into a dangerous area, and it hadn't been so long since a body had been discovered in the woods. Martin feigned ignorance to the murder, claiming to not hear such news all the way out in the country. The maid was feeling the pangs of distrust beginning to eat at her. Without showing a single sign of her wariness, she began surveying the land around her for a place to retreat.
Martin was dumbfounded when he was told that she would be staying at a farmhouse that night. There was no way she was plodding through the dark, dense, imposing forest after the sun went down. Especially not with an enormous, foreboding-looking, unfamiliar man. Without raising his suspicions, she assured him that they would meet again back on the road at daybreak if he didn't want to accompany her to the farmhouse. With no reason to object that wouldn't immediately raise alarm bells, he accepted her condition. He didn't think she would abandon all of her belongings still packed neatly in his chest. He could not have been more wrong.
The kind family that took her in for the night heard her odd story and made their concerns known. They thought this man intended to rob her, or worse. That night she couldn't seem to find rest, only managing to get a few fitful hours of sleep before having to make the arduous trip back home. Upon her return to Lyon, she filed a complaint with the magistrate about the theft of her items and all of her money. Unfortunately, her report fell on deaf ears. She hadn't been harmed or held against her will. What they were hearing was that she had left this man in the forest to carry all of her belongings without explanation. The magistrate felt no sense of urgency to follow up on her claims as it seemed to him that no crime had taken place. With nothing more than her unshakable feeling of distrust, even if someone were to track Martin down there was nothing to charge him with.
In October 1855, he returned to the city of Lyon seeking out another poor woman to entice with the glamorous offer of living and working in a rich man's house for astronomical wages. By this point his pattern was well-established. His lines were ingrained in his memory. This murderous enterprise had become as natural to him as living out in the wild, hunting small game for food. It was about survival, and nothing more to Martin.
He met a woman named Jeanne-Marie Bourgeois that was desperately in need of stable work. When he made his offer, she leapt upon it like a predator on its prey. Like Martin Dumollard on an innocent, unwitting young maid simply looking to better her lot in life. The opening was supposedly all the way out in Trevoux. The journey would be long and tiresome, but they agreed to meet and start their travels the following morning.
From the very beginning of their trip Jeanne-Marie was unsettled by the anonymous man toting her life on his back. Something about his manner seemed off to her. It was as though his friendliness was nothing more than a mask in constant danger of slipping. It thinly veiled the rage boiling within. Anger that he seemed to hold towards her for some unknown reason.
They had already traveled as far as the region of Mionnay when her misgivings gave out to fear and dread. She began scanning the land around her for a way out. Refuge from the man she was certain intended her harm. Just beyond a row of skinny trees in the distance stood a three-story building that looked just like salvation. Without a word, she fled towards the thin treeline without a backwards glance. She ran until her lungs began to burn with every gasp. She ran until exhaustion finally caused her feet to fail her. Stumbling on the uneven ground, she fell to her knees, too depleted to carry on.
Jeanne-Marie tried to catch her breath, but her panicked state wasn't making it easy. When she felt a strong hand seize her from the ground, she had not the breath to scream. Relief washed over her like warm rain in the summer when she realized that the man holding her was not the same she'd been trying to escape. Benoit Berthelier had been watching the frightened young maid as she sprinted across the field at full speed. The local farmer and community pillar ran to her aid as quickly as his legs would carry him.
Upon hearing her story, Benoit took her back to his farmhouse and gathered all of the local men to pursue this evil man. Well-known throughout Mionnay, he had no problem recruiting vigilantes. He as well as many in the area had heard all about the murder of Marie Baday. The news of Jacques Verger's arrest had not made its way to the small farming community yet, though. Correctly assuming they were on the trail of the girl's killer, they set out to track him like the beast he'd proved himself to be. Martin was long gone by that point, though. Knowing he was more likely to be caught pursuing her, he took his haul and fled through the forest at a pace no other man could match. The men searched until daylight waned into darkness, never finding a trace.
Jeanne-Marie walked back home with her own personal guard made up of Mionnay's local farmers. It was now her burden to pick up the pieces, though they had all been stolen from her. As the unfortunate young woman filed her complaint with the magistrates, Jacques Verger continued to lament in his cell. Genod couldn't ignore the similarities between Baday's case and the bizarre reports of women being led off into the woods with the promises of work just to be robbed. Upon hearing Jeanne-Marie's story, he took her straight to the jailhouse to confront the accused. They stared blankly at each other, neither having seen the other before. This proved the innocence of the railroaded young man with no one having considered that he was under lock and key at the time of this crime. Jacques was finally released to fade into obscurity, likely laying low for the rest of his life.
As investigators shifted their gears once again, Martin headed back to the city of Lyon to procure his next victim. In November 1855, Victorine Perrin was passing through the populous city in her labored attempts to find work. In many ways she was the perfect target. She had already traveled so far from home in her search. There was no one for many miles around to question her whereabouts if she were to go missing. She was also entirely too trusting of others.
It took absolutely no convincing on the villain's part to entice the young woman along. Without hesitation, she loaded everything she owned into Martin's large chest. After the journey she'd already endured to find this offer, she likely figured it best to accept quickly and get the trip over with. Once her clothes, savings, and what little jewelry she possessed was packed into the trunk, they started their trek right away. The seemingly kind, but awkward man led her on his usual route through La Croix-Rousse towards Montluel. Unlike the others before her, Victorine held no reservations about the stranger she placed so much trust in. She was entirely unguarded as his act was unfaltering.
They arrived in the crowded village of Rillieux as they pressed onward to the neighbourhood of Neyron. Throngs of people packed the village as they milled about or simply passed through. It was a scene quite easy to get lost in the center of, and Victorine did just that. Hardly had they entered the area did they get separated by the enormous crowd pressing in around them. As the desperate young woman looked left and right, she couldn't find her guide anywhere. As she began to call out to him, she realized that she had never learned the stranger's name. She clambered up onto a lamppost to scan the crowd from above, hoping to easily locate the mammoth of a man that had led her there. She had no such luck as Martin had already disappeared into the throng, likely believing Victorine to still be close behind.
The thought never occurred to the innocent young maid that she had been robbed. She honestly believed that she had allowed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pass her by in the crowd. She was angry and upset with herself as she resolved to make the journey back to Lyon. On her way back she decided to report her belongings as stolen, even if it meant kissing a golden opportunity goodbye. It wasn't until she returned to the city that she learned how fortunate she had been.
Once Victorine sat down with the officers in Lyon to file her complaint, she learned the extent of her situation. She had thought herself so unlucky to have lost a job in such a ridiculous manner. In fact Victorine couldn't have been more lucky. She had escaped a grim fate without even having to flee from a hulking pursuer hot on her heels. Even after speaking with the officers, she had only learned that robbery had been the intent of luring her away.
When she was congratulated on her good fortune at the conclusion of her meeting, she thought the officers were being sarcastic. What did they consider good fortune? She had her time wasted and in the process lost everything she owned along with all of her savings. Soon after she would learn the extent of Marie Baday's murder and its connection to the robberies. The young woman was horrified to realize how close she came to being another victim. She also realized that there had been no sarcasm in the officer's comment. She truly was lucky to be alive.
Julie Fargeat had found herself in a very precarious situation for the time. While working at her previous job, she had become pregnant with her master's baby. It was very likely a situation that she had not entered into willingly. Her position was well-paying, and not one that most would risk. Upon the discovery of her pregnancy she was fired and blacklisted in the region. After giving her a sizable gift to ensure her silence on the matter, she was turned out into the streets to find her way as her belly grew. She was desperate for work in an area where no one would hire her. Word of her blacklisting had traveled at the very speed of light and doors were slamming in her face just as quickly.
Julie carried little more than a bump at the time her path happened to cross with Martin's. She wore a heavy apron over her belly containing all of her possessions in the front pockets. Her ensemble was meant to hide her condition for as long as possible. When he made his offer to work in an isolated estate out in the country, she was left with no choice but to accept. It would seem that this was the only estate within the region that had not heard of her blacklisting.
Her only trepidation about taking the job was her pregnancy. What would happen to her once her condition became apparent? Would she be cast out once again in a state she would be unable to hide? She decided to air on the side of caution and honesty, somewhat. She was entirely truthful about her pregnancy, but left out the fact that the baby belonged to her previous employer. Instead, she told him that the father had been a soldier, killed in the wars waged by the Empire.
Martin sank back in contemplation. Julie was sure that he would resend his offer. He was clearly trying to decide whether his master would be angered at her arrival. Would he consider her a scandal waiting to happen? After an eternal moment, Martin gave a silent nod, signifying he would accept her as well as her child. She was absolutely astonished by her good fortune. It was as though she were dreaming and at risk of waking up at any moment.
That night, Julie could hardly sleep. She feared that when she woke, her supposed knight in shining armor would be gone along with her one and only job offer. The poor young mother tossed and turned with worry. This fantasy was sure to collapse on her at any moment. When she found him standing in the center of the city waiting for her the next morning, her surprise and happiness hitched in her throat.
Once Julie paid off her rented room, she was ready to embark on the next chapter of her life with a new job and a new baby. She loaded what little she had into Martin's traveling chest, keeping her savings, identification papers, and the so-called gift from her previous employer in her apron. For the majority of their travels, she was afraid to even speak for fear of bursting her bubble of financial security to be left spiraling into uncertainty.
It wasn't long after they had left the Civrieux commune behind that Julie started to become nervous. The sun was sinking ever-lower into the sky as darkness threatened to creep upon them. Underneath the growing shadows of the trees she started to fully realize the kind of situation she had put herself in. They were a long way from the closest town or estate. With her growing belly, she couldn't have even hoped to run away if this behemoth turned on her.
She barely had the chance to express the anxiousness building up in her chest when her uncertain situation shifted into a living nightmare. Martin's demeanor flipped so suddenly that Julie never saw the distortion coming. He began grabbing at her stomach as she screamed at the top of her lungs. Fearing more for the life of her baby than her own, she clutched her swollen belly as she continued to slice through the peaceful silence of the countryside with her screams. For a moment this seemed to work. Martin backed away as though repelled by her shrieks. Seeing his reaction, Julie continued to wail for her baby's life.
After a nerve-wracking moment, the enormous brute lunged again, grabbing for the apron that contained her life inside. This time he was able to tear it from her body all while she screamed bloody murder. Ripping her savings and the so-called gift meant to buy her silence away from her, Martin absconded into the woods.
The money contained within her apron was all she had to avoid destitution. She was sure to struggle with it, but without it she was doomed. As she stood there screaming for her life, her baby, and her lost savings, the world had never looked so bleak.
Through that bleak situation a beam of light glowed ever so brightly. Simon Mallet and his son, Louis, heard the distressed woman's screams from the fields they had been tending. The two rushed to her aid to find the young mother-to-be clutching her stomach and sobbing hysterically. Through stutters and tears she managed to tell her story to her brave saviors. They carried her back to Civrieux, allowing her to shelter at their house for the night. The next morning Louis accompanied her to file her report with the officers of the court in Saint-Andre-de-Corcy. As this was where Martin had claimed to be from, this was where they chose to report the crime.
Several hours stretched out before the two like an eternity as they waited to be seen by the gendarmes. When she was finally heard, her claims could hardly be believed. They were skeptical of the young woman that claimed to have been robbed for so much money. How did a woman of her standing and in her condition possibly come up with that much money? Her reluctance to tell them where it had come from turned the gendarmes against her immediately. She was demanded to either turn over her identification papers, or be charged with vagrancy and locked up for merely wasting their time. As her papers had been tucked in her apron with all of her savings, she was unable to provide them. Julie was jailed, leaving Louis to return home in utter confusion at what had just happened.
It seemed to Magistrate Genod as though the killer had fallen off the face of the earth for almost the entirety of 1859. In truth, he had just gotten better at ensnaring and snuffing out his victims before they could get away. The names of those lost to Martin and his wife's greed have also been lost to time as traces of them were never found.
The one sighting of Martin Dumollard that year was reported by a miller named Jean-Pierre Chretien. In December he witnessed a noticeably large man walking alone along a country road near Sainte-Croix as he shouldered a great chest. As the orange glow of the evening sun started casting longer shadows on the ground, a woman came running back in a frightened panic. This unnamed woman's skin was marked all over with bruises that mingled with the blood running from her freshly inflicted wounds. She was a startling sight after her harrowing encounter with the beast of the countryside.
She told Jean-Pierre that the giant he had seen robbed her for all of her money and possessions. This brave hero, like others before him, took off into the woods in search of the thief. Martin was long gone, though, easily traversing over the rocky, uneven terrain like a human ATV. The valiant, noble man searched until the darkening night forced him back. For an average person it was far too easy to get lost out in the dense forest after dark. Martin was no ordinary man, though. Having lived much of his life off of the land, he knew better than anyone how to find his way in the pitch black of the canopied forest.
The unknown woman found safety and comfort at Jean-Pierre's house that night as he watched over her ever-diligently. The next morning the shaken young woman left the security of his home to make her return to Lyon to file a complaint. However, no report was ever filed and the only account of this attack was Jean-Pierre Chretien's. It still remains unknown whether this woman simply disappeared into the masses of the city never filing a report, or if some worse fate befell her. While it's possible she could've returned home to live out the remainder of her days in obscurity, another horrifying possibility still lies on the table. Martin could've laid in wait to finish the job.
From the intro you've gathered that our fiendish killer does receive a piping hot helping of justice. However, there is still much more to get into and this seems like a good place to leave off for now. I urge you to come back for part two of Martin Dumollard: The French Maid Massacres as we get further into the stories of the escaped victims and the justice received by he and his wife. I also urge you to check out Ryan Green's book on this baffling case, Crimson Petticoats. His beautifully written depiction feels as though you've been transported back to the mid-1800s to watch the horror unfold in real time. If this post has intrigued you, then you will love the book.