I know you’ve heard of queens from different lands. I suppose the most popular is the Queen of England because you always hear about her and the royal family. I bet you have never heard about the Queen of Poisoners. have you? We all know that there are lots of evil people in this world and this woman that I am going to write about really takes the cake. In Loudun, France they exhumed the body of Leon Besnard because the authorities were searching for evidence of poison. As the years went by local residents had been becoming more and more suspicious of his wife, Marie. Unusual as it seemed her entire family had died untimely and mysterious deaths and it was after the death of her mother that the authorities began investigation Marie.
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In August of 1929, Marie married Leon. When Leon’s great aunts died suddenly they left a great deal of their money to Leon’s parents. Shortly thereafter the couple invited Leon’s parents to come to live with them. Not long after that Leon’s father suddenly died from eating a bad mushroom. Three months later his wife died as well and the neighbors began thinking that the Besnard’s were jinxed. Now the inheritance was divided between Leon and his sister, Lucie. However shortly after receiving her share of the money Lucie died supposedly having committed suicide.
Now that so many family members had died being greedy the Besnard’s started looking for their next possible victim. They took in boarders called the Rivets. Incredible as it might seem these boarders died suddenly and Marie was made their sole beneficiary. Next up came some cousins called Pauline and Virginie Lallerone. After Pauline died Marie said she had mistakenly eaten a bowl of lye. Would you eat a bowl of lye in your right mind? It does leave a lot of questions to be asked. Virginie was none too careful and died a week later. Why did she die? She also had eaten a bowl of lye.
Then in 1947, Marie fell in love with another man and Leon died soon after. When they exhumed the body of Leon they found traces of arsenic in his body and traces of arsenic in the rest of the family’s corpses as well. Marie was most clever and she was able to get a mistrial two times when trace evidence was lost during testing for poison both times. There wasn’t much physical evidence left by the third trail. Finally, on December 12, 1961, Marie Besnard was acquitted. The French called her the “Queen of Poisoners” and she had managed to get away with 13 murders.
And no matter how evil she was she lived to the ripe old age of 84 and died in 1980.
In 1986 The Marie Besnard Affair was a French TV film and won the Sept d’Or French TV award for the best actress in the role of Besnard, Alice Spritch, for Yves-Andre Hubert as director for best movie for TV, and Frederic Pottecher best writer.
In 2006 another TV film Marie Besnard, the Poisoner winning for an award as Best Performance by an Actress for Muriel Robin who portrayed Besnard.
English historian Richard Cobb wrote about Besnard in his book A Second Identity published in 1969.