Thursday, 18 March 2010

Crimes That Led To The Guillotine (Henri Desire Landru)

Henri Désiré Landru (12 April 1869 – 25 February 1922) was a French serial killer and real-life "Bluebeard.
Early life
Landru was born in Paris. After leaving school, he spent four years in the French army from 1887 – 1891. After he was discharged from service, he proceeded to have a sexual relationship with his cousin. She bore him a daughter, although Landru did not marry her; he married another woman two years later and had four children. He was shortly swindled out of money by a fraudulent employer. He turned to fraud himself, operating scams that usually involved swindling elderly widows. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment in 1900 after being arrested and found guilty of fraud, the first of several such convictions. By 1914, Landru was estranged from his wife and working as a second-hand furniture dealer.
Landru began to put advertisements in the lonely hearts sections in Paris newspapers, usually along the lines of "Widower with two children, aged 43, with comfortable income, serious and moving in good society, desires to meet widow with a view to matrimony." With World War I underway, many men were being killed in the trenches, leaving plenty of widows upon whom Landru could prey.
Landru would seduce the women who came to his Parisian villa and, after he was given access to their assets, he would kill them — possibly by strangulation or stabbing — 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 as Landru used a wide variety of aliases in his schemes. His aliases were so numerous that he had to keep a ledger listing all the women with whom he corresponded and which particular identity he used for each woman.
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 persuaded the police to arrest him. Originally, Landru was charged only with embezzlement. He refused to talk to police, and with no bodies (police dug up his garden, but with no results), 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.
List of victims
Madame Cuchet (last seen January 1915)
Son of Madame Cuchet (last seen January 1915)
Madame Laborde-Line (last seen 26 June 1915)
Madame Guillin (last seen 2 August 1915)
Madame Heon (last seen 8 December 1915)
Madame Collomb (last seen 25 December 1915)
Andree Babelay (last seen 12 April 1916)
Madame Buisson (last seen 19 August 1916)
Madame Jaune (last seen 25 November 1917)
Madame Pascal (last seen 5 April 1918)
Madame Marchadier (last seen 15 January 1919)
Trial and execution
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 in Versailles. Forty years later, there was a rumour that the daughter of Landru's lawyer Vincent de Moro-Giafferi found a picture Landru had drawn while awaiting execution, and on the back of it he had apparently written, "I did it. I burned their bodies in my kitchen stove".

Why Boys Need Parents

Port Meirion (Wales)

Portmeirion is an Italianate resort village in Gwynedd, on the coast of Snowdonia in Wales. The village is located in the community of Penrhyndeudraeth, on the estuary of the River Dwyryd, 2 miles (3.2 km) south east of Poerthmadog, and 1 mile (1.6 km) from the railway station at Minffordd, which is served by both the narrow gauge Ffestiniog Railway and Arriva Trains Wales (Cambrian Line).
Portmeirion has served as a location for films and television shows, most famously serving as the
Village in The Prisoner.

Panoramic view of the central piazza

Despite repeated claims that it was based on the town of Portofino, Italy, Sir Clough Williams-
-Ellis, Portmeirion's designer, denied this, stating only that he wanted to pay tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean. He did, however, draw from a love of the Italian village stating, "How should I not have fallen for Portofino? Indeed its image remained with me as an almost perfect example of the man-made adornment and use of an exquisite site..."
Williams-Ellis designed and constructed the village between 1925 and 1975. H
e incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works by a number of other architects. Portmeirion's architectural bricolage and deliberately fanciful nostalgia have been noted as an influence on the development of postmodernism in architecture in the late twentieth century. (Pictured right: Overview of the central plaza).
The main building of the hotel, and the cottages called "White Horses", "Mermaid" and "The Salutation" had been a private estate called Aber Iâ (Welsh: Ice estuary), developed in the 1850s, itself on the site of a foundry and boatyard which was active in the late 18th century. Williams-Ellis changed the name, which he interpreted as "frozen mouth", to Portmeirion - Port to place it on the coast, Meirion from the county of Merioneth / Meirionydd in which it then lay. The very minor remains of a medieval castle (known variously as Castell Deudraeth, Castell Gwain Goch and Castell Aber Iau) are in the woods just outside the village, recorded by Geraldis Cumbrensis (Gerald of Wales) in 1188.
In 1931 Williams-Ellis bought from his uncle, Sir Osmund Williams, Bt, the Victorian castellated mansion Castell Deudraeth with the intention of incorporating it into the Portmeirion hotel complex but the intervention of the war and other problems prevented this. Williams-Ellis had always considered the Castell to be “the largest and most imposing single building on the Portmeirion Estate" and sought ways to incorporate it. Eventually, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund as well as the Wales Tourist Board, his original aims were achieved and Castell Deudraeth was opened as an 11 bedroom hotel and restaurant on August 20, 2001 by Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel.
The grounds contain an important collection of rhododendrons and other exotic plants in a wild-garden setting which was begun before Williams-Ellis' time by the previous owner George Henry Caton Haigh and has continued to be developed since his death.
Portmeirion is n
ow owned by a charitable trust, and has always been run as a hotel, which uses the majority of the buildings as hotel rooms or self-catering cottages, together with shops, a cafe, tea-room and restaurant. Portmeirion is today a top tourist attraction in North Wales and day visits can be made on payment of an admission charge.
(Pictured left: Battery Square and souvenir shops).

Portmeirion in popular culture
The village of Portmeirion has been a source of inspiration for writers and television producers. For example, Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit while staying in the Fountain 2 (Upper Fountain) suite at Portmeirion. In 1956 the village was visited by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and other famous visitors have included Gregory Peck, Ingrid Bergman and Paul
McCartney. Musician Jools Holland visited whilst filming for TV music show The Tube, and was so impressed that he has had his studio and other buildings at his home in Blackheath built to a design heavily inspired by Portmeirion.
Television series and films have filmed exterior shots at Portmeirion, often depicting the village as an exotic European location. Examples of this include the 1960 Danger Man episode "View from the Villa" starring Patrick McGoohan, the 1976 four-episode Doctor Who story entitled "The Masque of Mandragora" set in Renaissance Italy, and an episode of Citizen Smith in which the eponymous hero visits Rimini.
(Picture right: The Amis Reunis (stone boat).
The best-known use of the location occurred in 1966-67 when McGoohan returned to Portmeirion to film exteriors for The Prisoner, a surreal spy drama in which Portmeirion itself played a starring role as "The Village". On request from Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion was not identified on screen as the filming location until the credits of the final episode of the series, and indeed Williams-Ellis has stated that the levy of a reasonable entrance fee was a deliberate ploy to prevent the village from being spoilt by overcrowding. The show became a cult classic, and fans continue to visit Portmeirion, which hosts annual Prisoner fan conventions. The building that was used as the lead character's home in the series currently operates as a Prisoner-themed souvenir shop. Many of the locations used in The Prisoner are virtually unchanged from the series, 40 years after production ended.
Due to its Prisoner connection, Portmeirion has been used as the filming location for a number of homages to the series, ranging from comedy skits to an episode of the BBC documentary series The Celts which recreated scenes from The Prisoner. In 1987 Jools Holland starred in a spoof documentary, The Laughing Prisoner, with Stephen Fry, Terence Alexander and Hugh Laurie. Much of it was shot on location in Portmeirion, and it included archive footage of McGoohan. In 2003 some scenes were filmed there for the final episode of the TV series Cold
Portmeirion, along with the Welsh village of Morfa Bycan, was used as the location for the filming of the Supergrass video Alright. The video includes numerous references to The Prisoner.
Iron Maiden recorded a song called "The Prisoner" on its seminal album, "The Number of the Beast." In a documentary program about that album (as part of VH-1's "Classic Albums" series), lead singer Bruce Dickinson wanders through the avenues of Portmeirion and describes how the song was written and how the band's manager obtained permission from Patrick McGoohan to use dialogue from the show in the song's introduction.

Homer Simpson Wisdom

Those guys are the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.
Extended warranty? How can I lose?

Mmmmmm - 52 slices of American cheese.

Hey, I asked for ketchup - I'm eatin' salad here.

When I first heard that Marge was joining the police academy, I thought it would be fun and zany, you know like that movie ...'Spaceballs'. But instead it was dark and disturbing like that movie 'Police Academy'.


I think Mr Smithers picked me for my motivational skills. Everyone always says they have to work twice as hard when I'm around!


Today's brainteaser is called "Colour Conscious". Below each question are four possible answers all you have to do is select the right one.

01 What is the colour for danger in scientific laboratories? Is it:

Dark Brown
Bright Yellow

02 Where was the notorious "Black Hole", which caused outrage among the British public in 1756? Was it:

In Newgate Prison
In Calcutta
In Cawnpore
In Boston

03 Which famous German actress starred in the 'The Blue Angel' and sang 'Falling in Love Again'? Was it:

Candice Bergen
Elisabeth Bergner
Marlene Dietrich
Elisabeth Schwarzkopf

04 What are the 'Red Arrows'? Are they:

A punk rock group
The instrument used by a tattooist
An urban guerrilla group
An R.A.F. display team

05 What is a 'blue-stocking'? Is it:

A literary and studious woman
An article of policewomen's lingerie
An Oxford University rowing sock
A sailors shroud

06 What is the name of the race-horse which won the English Grand National in 1973 and 1974 and again in 1977? Is it:

Blue Boy
Green Giant
Red Rum
Pink Panther

07 What were the 'Black and Tans'? Were they:

A multi-racial religious sect
A British military force
A Red Indian tribe
Indian missionaries

08 What is a 'Purple Passage'? Is it:

A rough sea crossing
A narrow street in Rome
An excessively sentimental piece of writing
An apoplectic fit

09 Where would you find a 'green room'? Is it:

At a race-course
In a casino
In a theatre
At a botanical garden

10 The blue-shirts were supporters of which Fascist leader of the 1930s? Was it:

Francisco Franco
Adolf Hitler
Benito Mussolini
Sir Oswald Mosley

Good luck! Answers in tomorrow's journal.