One of the frustrating things about studying the Jack the Ripper case is the number of times that a promising lead turns up only to fizzle out as you start to delve deeper.
One such story appeared in The Dundee Evening Telegraph on Monday, 28th May 1923.
I was particularly interested in this story because it relates to a suggestion, which is brought up more and more on our Facebook page that Jack the Ripper may have been a woman.
THE MURDER OF PHOEBE HOGG
One name that is often put forward in this regard is that of Mary Pearcey who murdered Phoebe Hogg and her baby daughter in October 1890.
But, on the whole, crimes such as the Whitechapel murders tend to have male perpetrators.
Thus, when I came across the following story in The Dundee Evening Telegraph I was, to say the least, intrigued:-
A FEMALE JACK THE RIPPER
Terror of Underworld. Stabs Many Women; Dramatic Arrest.
Marie Lacoste, known in the Paris underworld, as the “Tigress of La Chapelle,” has at last been caught and brought to face charges of stabbing women victims to death.
The adventures of this woman are typical of life among the Apaches and thieves of the quarter called La Chapelle. Marie, who was born thirty-three years ago at Saint Denis, for the past ten years has been considered by the police to be the virago incarnate of La Chapelle.
In 1919 Marie Lacoste is alleged to have killed with a knife her first victim. This was a young woman named Marie Lefevre.
The “Tigress” disappeared for while from her usual haunts, but a few months later two other unfortunate girls who had been seen in her company were found dead with terrible knife cuts in their bodies.
Other mysterious murders were laid at her door, but she always managed to cover her traces. Pretty”
PRETTY GIRL COMPANION
Chief Police Inspector Leroy finally located her in a beautiful country pavilion at La Yarenne, Sainte Hilaire. With her was a pretty girl, Helene Martel, formerly of Paris.
Leroy and another officer raided the place, and had to kill two savage bulldogs before getting into the house.
Marie Lacoste fought like a tigress, wielding her big knife with the skill of a Sioux Indian, but the policeman finally overpowered the two women, and took them handcuffed to the motor car waiting outside.
Helene Martel had been slightly injured in the encounter with the police and was taken to hospital pending the trial.
Marie Lacoste. The “Tigress” herself was locked up in Saint Lazare Prison. There she remained for several weeks.
She engaged some of the best lawyers in Paris, and secured her temporary freedom.
SHE STABBED HELENE MARTEL
The first thing she did, it is alleged, was to buy another large knife and to call on Helene Martel at the hospital. Here she is alleged to have plunged her knife into the sick woman.
The “Tigress” fled from the hospital as the nurses gathered round the wounded girl, who was too terrified to make any accusation.
Inspector Leroy soon found the “Tigress.”
He made short work of her; first knocking her senseless, and then loading her into the waiting motor car, to be taken later before Magistrate Franck.”
Unfortunately, my endeavours to search out further details of this intriguing “tigress” have drawn a blank. Very few newspapers actually covered the story, and even a search of the internet has revealed next to nothing about it, other than the details given in the aforementioned article.
So, for the time being at least, we must rest the Tigress of La Chapelle amongst the stories that “possibly” have some veracity to them!