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Georges-Alexandre Sarret

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Georges-Alexandre Sarret (born Giorgio Sarrejani; 23 September 1878 – 10 April 1934) was an Italian-born French criminal who was the last person to be executed in Aix-en-Provence. He was guillotined for double murder in a notorious case that involved him dissolving the bodies of his victims in sulphuric acid.[1][2] Sarret's crimes reportedly inspired British serial killer John George Haigh, known as the Acid Bath Murderer.[3]

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  • ✪ The Acid Bath English Serial Killer - John George Haigh


Just about all serial killers seem to have experienced some amount of trauma in childhood, but one thing that splits them apart is their intellect. Some of these killers seem like wild savages, barely self-aware. Others are extremely gifted, yet often display signs of psychopathy. Some are eloquent, attractive, and extremely cultured, such as the backpacker killer and lifelong scammer-turned celebrity, George Sobhraj, who read Nietzsche and Jung, classics and law, probably to be a better conniver. Then you’ve got the incredibly talented Ted Kaczynski, aka, the unabomber, who is said to have an IQ of 167. That’s slightly higher than violin prodigy Charlene Gallego, who with her husband brutally raped and killed mostly young girls in the late 70s. Today we’ll look at another talented killer, in this episode of the Infographics show, John George Haigh: Acid Bath Murderer. Just looking at pictures on the web, Haigh wouldn’t look out of place in a Hollywood movie of days gone by. It’s said he was incredibly charming, as well as suave and not too distressing to the female eye. But, like many killers that come across this way, he suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In short, that means someone who has feelings of grandiosity, is always seeking admiration, yet seems to have no empathy whatsoever. Do you know anyone who fits that description? If so, they can tick a box for possible future serial killer. So, our charmer Mr. Haigh was born July 24, 1909. He grew up near a place called Wakefield, which is located in West Yorkshire, northern England. They say it’s grim up north in that part of the UK. Back in Haigh’s day, it really was a grim place, being the backbone of industrial England. But it seems John wasn’t sent to work down the coal mine or in one of the textile mills; no, this lucky lad had it easier than some. But, he had some setbacks. Haigh is yet another serial killer that came from a very religious family – we sure are seeing a pattern in this series. In fact, Haigh’s dad, it’s said, had a mark on his head that he told his son had been put there by God as a brand to show that he had sinned in the past. The dad apparently told young John that if he sinned, he’d get a mark, too, but the mother could not fall victim to God’s branding iron as she was an angel. Not surprisingly, with this being told to John, he had a fuzzy sense of reality. He even committed a few sins as a child, and as he wasn’t marked, it’s said he sinned some more. He thought he’d escaped the wrath of God. Meanwhile, it’s said he went through his childhood suffering from terrible religious-themed nightmares. He didn’t even get to talk to other kids, as his dad built a huge fence around the house to keep other, not-so-pious people, out. But young John had some skills. He was brilliant at playing piano and from a young age showed an interest in classical music. He won scholarships to good schools and later a scholarship to Wakefield Cathedral. There he became a choirboy, which is perhaps a vocation you don’t expect of a future serial killer. After that he worked in a garage as he was very fond of automobiles, but he had to leave ‘cos he couldn’t stand the dirt. It’s even said he would only work on cars wearing rubber gloves and a mask. Haigh found a job to his liking, one that could be said to be in line with acts of cunning. That was working in advertising. But this is where his life of criminality started. He was fired for stealing. That didn’t stop him from getting a wife though, and he was married in 1934 to a woman he hardly knew. She filed for divorce within a few months after our man was charged with fraud. The child inside her would later be adopted. So, now we have a single man serving some time in jail. He gets out and becomes a recidivist, meaning he didn’t stop committing fraud. In fact, he was jailed many more times for doing things such as forging signatures on checks when buying cars, or selling fraudulent stock shares that were too good to be true. He was good at his job as he was articulate, smart and handsome, which goes a long way if you want to become a good fraudster. The problem was, he kept getting caught. And so, while sitting in his jail cell he came up with a cunning plan. If it’s the victims that keep getting me in trouble by blowing the whistle, just make sure there are no victims. Meaning, nothing left of them at all. Vanish them. His inspiration for this was a French serial killer named Georges-Alexandre Sarret, who had dissolved his victims in acid. Perhaps John should have read further, in that his inspiration ended-up losing his head to the guillotine… Out of prison, Haigh got his hands on some sulphuric acid and dropped some mice in pots of it. Yep, they dissolved. Now, does that work on humans? Yes, is the answer, and it’s very effective. According to one story about certain ways of dissolving bodies, acid is a great way, although the fumes are terrible, and it is dangerous, as it can burn you. According to that same article, Haigh did this: “He processed the bodies in a 45-gallon oil drum and reported that the victims dissolved completely in about two days.” It’s said he did this to six people, but there could have been three more. Who were they and how did he kill them? More importantly, why the hell did he kill them? Maybe this quote from him can partly answer that: “When I first discovered there were easier ways to make a living than to work long hours in an office, I did not ask myself whether I was doing right or wrong.’ That seemed to me to be irrelevant. I merely said, ‘This is what I wish to do’.” He added, “Go after women – rich, old women who like a bit of flattery. That’s your market, if you are after big money.” But he didn’t just kill older women. His first victim was a friend and former employer called William McSwan. He hit him over the head and threw his body in acid. A few days later and McSwan was nothing but sludge. Haigh told McSwan’s parents that their son had run away to avoid being called up for war. At the same time, Haigh was collecting his pension cheques, living in, and later selling his properties. He was flush with money at this point, but often gambled large amounts away. The parents became very suspicious, so Haigh invited them to his house after telling them their son was back and was dying to see them. Only they died after being hit over the head. Then they took a bath John had prepared for them. This conniver would be invited to the houses of the wealthy to play piano, only while hitting every note, he was noting what he could steal. He shot a wealthy couple he had played for and then stole all their belongings as well as forging their signature to buy more things. They took a bath, and John emptied out the sludge later. His final victim was a wealthy old woman, one whose husband had passed already. She met Haigh, who had said he was an engineer. She then told him she had this great idea to make artificial fingernails. Haigh said wonderful, come to my place and we’ll get to work. Only he shot her, and she became another person to take his special bath. He took her valuables, but it seems that was all. The cops had a lead as someone had seen Haigh with the missing rich woman. They visited his workshop, whereupon they found evidence that linked Haigh to all of the murders above. He was arrested, but he actually thought he would get away with it. You see, Haigh thought that if there were no bodies, then you couldn’t be convicted. He had read law and the term “corpus delicti”, which basically means there must be evidence before you can be convicted. Corpus meaning body and delicti meaning crime, so body of the crime. But the cops had evidence, they even found parts of bodies where Haigh had dumped the sludge, including bits of dentures, gallstones, a bit of a foot, and some human fat. Even though this sounds repulsive to us, some reports tell us that Haigh was also repulsed and found the whole matter of killing and dissolving rather unpleasant. For him it was just the best way to steal and get away with it. Haigh tried to plead insane given the gravity of his crimes and the fact he was versed in law, but the judge didn’t believe him. He talked of nightmares he had from a being a young child, trying to sound crazy. It didn’t work. He was hanged at the hands of prolific hangman Albert Pierrepoint on August 10, 1949. As the story goes, just before he was hanged, he was asked by one of the guards if he wanted a drink, perhaps a brandy. Haigh replied, “Make it a large one, Old Boy.” So, do scammers ever get away with it? Does crime pay? It seems not, but why not tell us in the comments what you think about this and the man we talked about today. Also, be sure to check out our other video called Leonarda Cianciulli AKA The Human Flesh Soap Maker! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!


Sarret was born in Trieste, of Greek descent, and emigrated to France in his youth. He studied medicine, chemistry and law at the University of Marseille.[4] He became a lawyer and then a swindler, beginning a life insurance scam, in which two of his lovers, German sisters Catherine and Philomène Schmidt, married unhealthy men. The scheme involved another accomplice, Louis Chambon-Duverger, who would go for a medical examination while posing as one of the unhealthy husbands in order to be approved for life insurance. The husband's death would then be hastened via poison or some other measure, and the life insurance shared among the conspirators. Sarret and the sisters lived together in the suburbs of Aix-en-Provence at a villa they dubbed L'Hermitage.[5]

However, at some point Sarret decided that Chambon-Duverger had become too greedy. In 1925, Sarret murdered him along with his mistress, Noémie Ballandraux. He then dumped their corpses in sulphuric acid to dispose of their bodies. This crime went unsolved for six years until Catherine Schmidt was arrested for another life insurance scheme, in which she faked her own death by obtaining the body of a woman her own age and general description who had died of tuberculosis. Catherine moved to Nice to hide out, but fell in love with a man there and followed him to Marseille, very close to Aix-en-Provence, where she was recognized. During police interrogation, she confessed to her crimes as well as to what Sarret had done.[5]

Sarret successfully delayed trial for two years, but was found guilty in October 1933 and sentenced to death. He was guillotined a few months later by Anatole Deibler. The Schmidt sisters each received 10 years in prison.[5]

In popular culture

The Sarret case was told by Solange Fasquelle in the book The Infernal Trio , which was adapted to the cinema in 1974 under the same title by Francis Girod, starring Michel Piccoli as Sarret, Romy Schneider as Philomène Schmidt and Mascha Gonska as Catherine Schmidt.[5]


  1. ^ Lowe, Gordon (2015). Acid Bath Murders: The Trials and Liquidations of John George Haigh. The History Press. p. 32. ISBN 9780750966702. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  2. ^ "1934: Georges-Alexandre Sarrejani, vitriolic". April 10, 2013. Retrieved 28 March 2014.
  3. ^ "The Acid Bath Murderer". Fred Dinenage: Murder Casebook. 1 May 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  4. ^ Nash, Jay Robert (1990). Encyclopedia of World Crime: S-Z. CrimeBooks. p. 2680. ISBN 9780923582043. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d Mattei, Christine (2015). Crimes et Criminels... des Histoires a Perdre La Tête (in French). pp. 121–125. ISBN 9781326190712. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
This page was last edited on 27 May 2019, at 01:27
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