By Grant Davies
On this day (-10) in 1949, authorities in Loudun, France, were leaning on their shovels after having spent a fair amount of time exhuming the body of a certain Monsieur Leon Besnard.
Poor Leon had left this earth in October, 1947, after consuming some bad soup. While examining Leon's remains, it was concluded that what made the soup bad was the amount of arsenic in it, 19.45 mg to be exact. At least that was the amount left in what was left of Leon a year and a half after he slurped the soup.
It seems that Leon was only one of many people who got fatal indigestion after being in close proximity to his wife, Marie. The number turned out to be thirteen. And when their remains had been similarly dug up, Marie Besnard found herself in the soup, too.
The local gendarmerie had been informed of the unusual string of fatally bad luck that befell almost everyone around Marie. Well, at least those who coincidentally had some franc français that would pass to Marie in the event of their failure to exist. Naturally, they told the magistrate, who ordered the above digging and counting of arsenic milligrams to be performed. Marie was charged with thirteen homicides.
The poisonous family relationships began soon after Leon's parents inherited a ton of wealth from someone who probably died a natural death. In one of the most unfortunate relocation decisions on record, they accepted their son and daughter-in-law's invitation to move in with them.
It turned out to be a short visit instead of a long residence. Leon's father died soon thereafter, apparently from eating poisoned mushrooms. (Perhaps the kind with arsenic in them?) His mother died of "pneumonia" three months later. No word on whether her condition had poisonous residue.
Subsequently the Besnard's decided to rent space to some wealthy friends who conveniently had named Marie as their sole beneficiary, and who even more conveniently soon passed away from "pneumonia" and "aortitis". (18 mg and 30 mg)
Marie's father also died, of cerebral hemorrhage (36 mg). Marie's cousins were not lucky either. Both of them died within nine days of each other from the same stupid mistakes. The first mistake they made was naming Marie their sole heir. The second was that they ate lye for dessert by accident. (48 mg and 20 mg) Hey, it happens all the time! Lye can get in your pie pretty easily. The list goes on but I won't poison your opinion of Marie's guilt or innocence by piling on.
So Marie was convicted and went to prison forever and everyone was satisfied.
Umm, not so fast. Not every story has justice being done. Marie had three trials, and in the end (1961), she beat the rap. Legal "Dream Teams" of the "OJ" variety are not exclusive to America it seems. Marie herself didn't pass away until 1980 but it seems likely that she didn't die of poisoning since there was no one left to spice up her soup. So if she did it, she got away with murder. Er..thirteen murders.
To mark the date, slip on down to the "Bad Luck Bar and Grill" and have a sip of something strong. But if the bartender asks "What's your poison?" watch closely while your drink is being mixed.
Oh, I forgot to mention, Leon wasn't Marie's first husband. His name was Auguste Antigny, her cousin, who she married in 1920. His death was from pleurisy in 1927, (60 mg). I don't remember things as well as I did before I had that soup for lunch...