On Thursday, 2nd June, 1892, The Manchester Evening News carried a story which informed its readers of a tragedy and crime that had occurred at a hotel in Lambeth in London:-
FRENCH TRAGEDY LONDON
Yesterday afternoon, a shocking discovery was made in Lambeth.
Onn Tuesday a lady and a gentleman, both well dressed and apparently natives of France, took apartments, they stated, for two nights, at Knight’s Hotel. They failed to put in an appearance yesterday morning to breakfast, but no notice was taken of it, as it was thought they were possibly tired after the journey.
Shortly after noon, however, they had not been seen or heard moving about, so one of the servants was sent to ascertain the cause, but no answer being received to repeated knocks at the door, the room was entered and the occupants were found lying in the bed locked in each other’s arms, and quite dead.
The woman was shot through the head and the man, who still clutched a revolver in his hand, had also received a fatal bullet wound.
From the position of the bodies, there is little doubt that the man first murdered the woman and then committed suicide.
A medical man who was called in, having pronounced life inn both cases extinct, the bodies were removed by the police to the local mortuary, where they now lie awaiting an inquest.
THEY WERE OLD LOVERS
Upon a search being made, letters were found which showed that the couple were old lovers, although the female was a married woman, and that they had agreed to die together.
Up to the present time, their names are unknown, but it is believed that they are both very highly connected.
The French consul has been communicated with.
The circumstances of the case render the crime one that is singularly sad in its character.
The man had some time ago been engaged to be married to a young woman residing in London, but afterwards made the acquaintance of the deceased woman, to whom he was warmly attached. It is thought that he did not know that she was a married woman until shortly before the crime was committed, and that that knowledge was really the cause of the commission of the deed.
THE LANDLADY’S STORY
Mrs. Knight, the landlady of the hotel, says that when the couple came to her house they represented themselves as married. They came on Monday, and on Tuesday morning the man went into the coffee room and ordered some refreshment, speaking in broken English. The woman was unable to speak anything but French.
They retired to rest at about eleven o’clock on Monday night, and nothing more was heard of them, nor were there any sounds to indicate quarrel.
At noon yesterday morning, Mrs. Knight was informed by one of the servants that the “new lodgers” were still in their bedroom.
Mrs. Knight went to the door of the room and knocked, but no response was made.
Mounting a pair of steps and looking through a skylight communicating with the room she was horrified to see the man and woman apparently quite dead on the bed clasped in each other’s arms.
THE SCENE IN THE ROOM
The police were summoned, and when examination of the place was made, the officers and a medical man noticed that the two persons were quite dead. Death had taken place some hours before.
There was a revolver wound in the right temple of the woman and a bullet wound over the left ear of her companion.
Singular to say, both of them were partly dressed, and, from the appearance of the place, it was evident that the man had almost finished his toilet before the crime was committed.
The revolver with which the wounds were inflicted was still grasped in his hand when the police entered the apartment.
THE VICTIMS IDENTIFIED
The Press Association telegraphs:-
The name of the man, who spoke English imperfectly, is Raoul Lacoutre, and he appears to be about twenty-eight years of age.
The woman’s name is either Marie Biarret or Marie Ladermann. It is believed that her real name was Ladermann, and that the other name was an assumed one.
It is also thought that the couple had come to the end of their resources.
THEIR SUICIDE NOTES
They left behind them four letters, which were apparently written on Tuesday evening.
One of these, written in very imperfect English, was addressed to the landlady of the hotel.
The man apologises for committing suicide in the house, and for the trouble which it must entail, adding with respect to himself and his companion, “Though our bodies may be divided our hearts are one.”
Another letter, written by Ladermann in French, and to the French consul, supplies the names of her family connections in France.
It is expected that the antecedents of the parties will be disclosed the inquest which will be opened tomorrow.
A third letter was addressed to a person in Clerkenwell.
The envelope of the fourth letter bore the inscription “to the police master,” and it is understood the contents of these communications made it clear that the parties had resolved to die together.”