May 13, 1892
New Orleans, Louisiana
Dr. Etienne Deschamps (61) is hanged for the sexual assault and murder of 12-year-old Juliette Dietsch
Deschamps was described in newspapers as a quack doctor, using hypnotic and magnetic techniques on his patients when he wasn’t practicing dentistry. He eventually became friends with Juliette’s father, Jules Dietsch, and Jules’ unnamed “aged mother.” During his friendship with Jules, Deschamps became close with his daughter Juliette. Though Jules witnessed Deschamps kissing his daughters Juliette and Laurance (9) goodbye, and told Juliette she was getting too old to let people kiss her, Jules did not suspect Deschamps was abusing his daughter.
For months, Juliette and Laurance were invited to Deschamps home where the doctor would hypnotize Juliette (he most likely incapacitated her with chloroform) then “outraged” (sexually assaulted) her while Laurance was present. Laurance later testified Deschamps would offer a cloth soaked in chloroform to smell but she would resist breathing the fumes as she found the odor unpleasant.
On January 30, 1889, Deschamps invited the girls over to his home. He instructed Juliette to undress and lay in his bed, then held a bottle of chloroform to her nose until she lost consciousness. Deschamps then undressed himself, laid in bed next to Juliette, and held a cloth to Juliette’s face. It is presumed this was the lethal dose which killed her. Laurance witnessed this entire process and, when she told Deschamps she wished to return home, she was given a message to deliver to Jules from Deschamps stating his intention to kill himself. Laurance delivered the news and Jules immediately rushed to the doctor’s home.
Jules found the doctor’s room locked and retrieved a police officer to assist in breaking down the door. Juliette and Deschamps were found face up and nude on the bed. Jules started towards his daughter but was held back the officer who stated she was already dead. Deschamps was originally thought to be dead as well, but shallow breathing was detected. He was carried out on a stretcher and treated before his arrest.
Deschamps attempted to present himself as insane at court. While he was successful in delaying his execution, he was convicted regardless and sentenced to hang. Deschamps professed his innocence at the reading of his death warrant and simply said “Adieu!” before he fell through the gallows’ trapdoor to his death.
“Deschamps.” The Times-Democrat [New Orleans, Louisiana]. May 14, 1892 (source of illustrations)
“Paid the Penalty.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 13, 1892
“A Beastly Tragedy.” Weekly Louisiana Review [New Orleans, Louisiana]. February 6, 1889
“The Child Murder.” The Times-Democrat. February 3, 1889