Paris, France – To all who knew him, he was the most devoted, benevolent doctor in Nazi-occupied Paris. Dr Marcel Petiot provided free care for the poor and risked his life helping persecuted Jews flee to safety.
Or so everyone thought – until locals in his affluent neighbourhood reported a foul stench from his home and thick black smoke pouring out of his chimney in March 1944.
Mutilated bodies in various states of decay were strewn across two floors of his 19th-Century mansion.
Down a marble staircase were canvas bags full of severed legs, arms and heads – enough parts for at least 10 complete bodies. More remains were burning in two basement stoves – the cause of the thick smoke.
Police later took away “33 pounds of charred bones, 11 pounds of human hair, including more than 10 whole scalps, and three dustbins full of pieces too small to identify”.
Officially he murdered 27 men, women and children, but he admitted to killing 63 and the toll could be at least 160. Now French authorities have released for the first time the police records which led to Dr Petiot being guillotined, aged 49, in May 1946.
David King, author of new book, Death in the City of Light, says: “Parisians at first refused to believe he was capable of such barbarity. Here was a highly articulate, cultured man who apparently cared deeply for the poor. He was known throughout Paris as a freedom fighter who would help smuggle away anyone being hunted by the Nazis.
“Yet it turns out he preyed on their hopes and dreams and murdered them. I spent months trying to find at least one person who he’d actually helped to flee, but I found no one. I could hardly believe how evil he was.”
Petiot had taken warped advantage of the horrors of war to unleash his own murderous reign of terror. He claimed to run a secret network which offered safe passage to South America via Portugal.
Charging 25,000 francs from each “refugee”, he told them to arrive at his home with their most valuable possessions packed in their luggage. Police later found 49 empty suitcases at his home.
They were persuaded to write a letter to their relatives which stated they were now safely in Argentina but any more further contact would be dangerous.
Other victims would be gassed with Zyklon B – which was used by the Nazis to kill millions in concentration camps.
Petiot even went to some of the victims’ houses to steal their furniture, informing neighbours it was part of the deal.
In all, Petiot is believed to have stolen 200million francs from his victims – around £15million today.
At first he dumped the bodies in the River Seine, or threw plastic sacks of body parts into passing trucks. By August 1942, Parisians were aware a murderer was at large.
A police report detailed a macabre discovery in a truck. It read: “Two human heads without skin or fingertips, two feet with no toenails, skin of two legs including heel and three scalps, the first with reddish blonde hair, the second almost black, and the third grey.”
Among the dead was a family of three German Jews who escaped Paris’ largest mass round-up by the Nazis. In July 1942, 13,000 disappeared in 48 hours.
Kurt and Margaret Kneller and their seven-year-old son Rene hid in a neighbour’s house before approaching their family doctor.
Mr King says: “This case shocked me, because it was a family and Petiot had been their doctor for years. Petiot took their money and got their son to take a photo for his fake passport. He later turned up at their home and took all their furniture.
“Two months after they had survived the Nazis, their dismembered remains were fished out of the Seine.”
Between 1942 and 1943, nine heads, four thighs and numerous other pieces were recovered from the river.
As the body count grew, Petiot knew he had to find another means of disposal. So he had two incinerators installed in his basement, and a lime pit for decomposition.
~Dr Shipman, was a Jewish doctor in the UK and one of the most prolific serial killers in recorded history with 218 murders being positively ascribed to him. Doesnt seem to be any estimation on how many more could have been killed either.
I never read a single article of anyone vomiting over him, have you?
I wonder if anyone ever checked to see if this Dr Petiot was really helping these patients and had nowhere to bury them and no money. It would be antisemitic to look into it. And to compare this Dr Shipman to someone who murdered Jews would be a crime against G_d!