Joseph Vacher The French Ripper
Joseph Vacher was a French serial killer, sometimes known as “The French Ripper” due to comparisons to the more famous Jack the Ripper murderer of London, England, in 1888. His scarred face, accordion and plain, white, hand-made rabbit-fur hat became his trademark appearance. During a three-year period, beginning in 1894, Vacher murdered and mutilated at least 11 people (one woman, five teenage girls and five teenage boys). Many of them were shepherds watching their flocks in isolated fields. The victims were stabbed repeatedly, often disemboweled, raped and sodomized. Vacher was a drifter, traveling from town to town, from Normandy to Provence, staying mainly in the southeast of France, and surviving by begging or working on farms as a day laborer. He was caught in 1897, whilst trying to murder a woman in the fields. He confessed to the murders, but claimed he was insane because he was bitten by a rabid dog when he was a child. He later changed his story and said he was a messenger of God. Vacher was executed by guillotine two months later, at dawn on December 31, 1898. He refused to walk towards the scaffold and had to be dragged by the executioners.