The Bluebeard Case

Investigating the French serial killer Henri Désiré Landru

The Bluebeard Case is a documentary film about French serial killer Henri Désiré Landru, a murderer who killed 11 innocent people.

He hunted specifically for women, targeting those he could seduce with the sole intent of robbing them and then killing them. In an effort to stay hidden from his gruesome crimes he would burn his victims and strip them of all their assets.

Born in Paris 1869, France, Henri’s life is riddled with hardships, wars and a marriage with his cousin.

In the end of his twenties he would turn to fraud to make a living, often swindling elderly widows. His crimes were noticed and Henri was convicted for the first time in 1900, serving two years of imprisonment. This was the first of several such convictions.

By 1914, Henri began to run lonely hearts advertisements in Paris newspapers. Because of World War I there were plenty of widows upon whom he could prey. During this time mere fraud wasn’t enough, to stop himself from going to prison again he would murder and try his best at leaving no trace of his killings.

Between 1914 and 1919 he killed ten women and the teenage son of one of them.

The police did not connect the disappearance of these women, as Henri used a wide variety of aliases in his schemes. He kept a ledger listing the particular alias he used when corresponding with each woman.

In 1919, the sister of one of Landru’s victims attempted to track him down. She did not know Landru’s real name but she knew his appearance and where he lived. Eventually she persuaded the police to arrest him.

Initially, Henri was charged only with embezzlement. He refused to talk to the police, and with no bodies (police dug up his garden without result), there was seemingly insufficient evidence for a murder charge.

However, police did eventually find fragmentary paperwork listing the missing women, and combining this with other documents provided the necessary evidence.

Due to this new evidence, Henri would find himself standing in court on November 1921; charged with killing 11 innocent people.

During his trial, Henri drew a picture of his kitchen, including the stove in which he was accused of burning his victims, and gave it to one of his lawyers; he had written on the back:

Ce n’est pas le mur derrière lequel il se passe quelque chose, mais bien la cuisinière dans laquelle on a brûlé quelque chose (“It is not the wall behind which a thing takes place, but indeed the stove in which a thing has been burned”).

This was used as an interpretion of his confession. Henri was convicted on all counts and sentenced to death by guillotine. The sentence was carried out near Versailles three months after the court sentence.

The Bluebeard Case
  • Info
  • Release date2005
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Pierre Boutron
  • Production companyPallas Television