December 31, 1898
Bourg-en-Bresse, Ain, France
“The French Ripper,” or “L’éventreur du Sud-Est” (“The South-East Ripper”) Joseph Vacher is executed
Vacher, identified by his scarred face, accordion, and white rabbit fur cap, had spent 3 years wandering from town to town, dressed shabbily and accepting handouts from the more charitable citizens. He also spent those years attacking shepherds secluded in their fields, stabbing them to death and often disemboweling, raping, and/or sodomizing them. He claimed the lives of at least 11 (1 woman, 5 teenaged girls, 5 teenaged boys) though may have killed 27 or more.
The end of his murdering spree came when he attacked a woman in 1897. She fought back and cried out, bringing her husband and son to her aid. Vacher was suspected to be the serial murderer haunting the area but police had little evidence against him. Despite the lack of evidence, Vacher confessed to the murders with very little prompting. He attempted to claim he had been bitten by a rabid dog which caused his frenzies, then decided it must have been a cure given to him after the bite which was the root of his madness. Later, he claimed to have been sent by God, comparing himself to Joan of Arc. None of these claims saved him and he was sentenced to death October 28, 1898. Just over 2 months later, Vacher was executed by the guillotine, and reportedly needed to be dragged to his fate.