R is for Ribault

Written in blood – French murders made their way into Household Words, including this dramatic tale:

‘Madame Ribault … managed to crawl to a chimney-board, where she traced with her finger, dipped in blood, the letters “Commis de MT”.’

MT were, indeed, the initials of the murderer.

The story of Madame Ribault appears in The Household Narrative of Current Events. It is full of stories of dreadful murder, but none, perhaps, with such uncompromising evidence as the initials of the murderer written in his victim’s blood.

On New Year’s Eve, 1851, in Paris, Madame Ribault was attacked by a clerk who tried to cheat her out of 200 francs. He insisted that she had received 200 of the 400 she was owed by his company. When she protested, he struck her with a sharp instrument. On hearing her fall, her companion, Mme Lebelle rushed in. The clerk attacked and killed her. The murderer fled. Madame Ribault recovered consciousness, and although exhausted from loss of blood, managed to crawl to a chimney board where she wrote the initials of the murderer. He was apprehended in the act of trying to open a vein with a piece of glass which he had taken from a window in his apartment.

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