January 26th, 2013 Headsman
On this date in 1909, French double-murderer Remy Danvers was guillotined in Carpentras.
From Le Matin, January 27, 1909.
Danvers, already a career criminal, signed on as a farmhand at age 22 in 1907 — a period when capital punishment in France was in abeyance owing to the presidency of a death penalty opponent who systematically blocked executions.
On February 1, 1908, he shot that farmer dead to steal some money he learned was available in the house … and for good measure shot his wife too, as she begged him on her knees for her life. He got caught trying to dump the burlap-sacked corpses in the Rhone. (Here’s a French-language summary, from the original Le Figaro report.)
Because of the de facto death penalty moratorium, Danvers didn’t sweat his death sentence too much. However, the outrages of the Pollet gang finally restored the guillotine to the French criminal justice scene earlier in January of 1909. Danvers turned out to be the very next victim in its path.
Shortly before the sentence was carried out, the public prosecutor appeared in Danvers’ cell to advise the doomed man of his appeal’s rejection, and the consequent imminent removal of his head. Fortified by rum, a visibly upset Danvers managed to get through it, but execution-starved French crowds crowded a scene that authorities attempted to restrict, and snapped this photo:
The unruly public, the New York Times opined, “undoubtedly will hasten Parliamentary action toward making future executions private.”
That date was still some years away, but a France increasingly discomfited by its history of public executions did institute laws forbidding attendees from filming or photographing executions. (Those laws didn’t work, but there they were just the same.)
There’s more about Remy Danvers in this guillotine.cultureforum.net thread (French).
Also on this date
- 1681: Isabel Alison and Marian Harvey, Covenanters
- 1894: George Painter, Chicago infamous
- 1891: Ramon Lopez, a Spaniard, aged 38 years
- 1996: John Albert Taylor, the last American to face a firing squad
- 1939: Three Men For Murder, But Not Isidore Zimmerman
- 2007: Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi, "the burden thus shifted to him"