On this date in 1909, Georges-Henri Duchemin was guillotined in Paris for murdering his mother. It was the first execution in that city in a decade.
An aimless gadabout, Duchemin mostly sponged off his dear mom, and the filial bond of nature proved insufficiently developed to restrain him strangling the old lady when she held out on him one time.
The ungrateful child made off with a couple hundred francs, but his sister knew right where to direct the police.
His lawyer bid to represent the killer as unbalanced (French link; most of the material on this criminal is in French). The general public horror of parricide and the undisguisedly mercenary nature of the murder made it a no-go.
France had taken a death penalty hiatus of three-plus years from late 1905 to early 1909, under the anti-death penalty president Armand Fallieres. But even those in the first half of the decade had been elsewhere than the capital: Paris hadn’t seen the national razor shave a head since Alfred Peugnez in 1899.
“[Juve] led Fandon just behind the guillotine, to the side where the severed head would fall into the basket. ‘We shall see the poor devil get out of the carriage, and being fastened on to the bascule, and pulled into the lunette.’ He went on talking as if to divert his own mind from the thing before him. ‘That’s the best place for seeing things: I stood there when Peugnez was guillotined, a long time ago now, and I was there again in 1909 when Duchemin, the parricide, was executed.-
With the new death penalty era in the new century came a new location for the guillotine: just outside La Sante Prison. (The guillotine had formerly been stationed outside La Roquette Prison, but that facility had closed in 1900; today, it’s a park — but look sharp and you can still find the guillotine’s old support stones.)
Le Petit Parisien provided this map to curious onlookers as part of its vast Aug. 5, 1909 coverage of Paris’s biggest crime story of the summer.