Marie-Madeleine Henry, 69, has been running a grocery store at 1 rue Taison in the heart of downtown Metz for more than 40 years. On Thursday, August 3, 1961, a neighbor returned from a walk with her dog and went up the street. It’s a little past 8 p.m. He notices that the front door of the grocery store is open and the light is still on. Intrigued, the walker approaches and sees two feet in the hallway. They are the ones from the shopkeeper that the rescuers will find lying in a pool of blood.
“He hit me with a bottle and a knife,” says the unfortunate woman who dies as soon as she arrives at the hospital. Traders and neighbors quickly provide consistent evidence that allows police to identify a No. 1 suspect the same evening. The neighborhood is unanimous: a small man with a mustache and a Tyrolean hat hovered in front of the grocery store at the end of the day. A neighbor even saw him leave the building.
The man, who we know left Metz quickly shortly after the tragedy, was arrested the next day in a café in Vannes-le-Châtel, near Toul. “What did I do? Why stop me?”
Witnesses are formal
Ursule Plançon, “a small man with a sly look, the chef with a Tyrolean hat” and who wears, “under his nose, a curious mustache.” The 31-year-old boiler denies the facts from start to finish. But the witnesses are formal: “It’s really him! “The defendant has no alibi, he is detained in possession of a sum of money whose origin is quite vague. In his clothes are traces of blood and hair. No more justice is needed to accuse him and send him back to the Moselle Assize Court.
Death penalty required
“It’s not me, I’m innocent of the murder that accuses me,” the defendant continues to proclaim. “He killed unnecessarily. It’s a sordid crime […] who demands a punishment: death! “The accusations are serious, but it’s a façade built on quicksand,” he said. “His client narrowly escaped the death penalty and was convicted.” to twenty years in prison in July 1963.
“There will be a cassation! I’m innocent! “He sang at the end of his first trial. He was tried for the second time in May 1964. His sentence was upheld by the Meurthe-et-Moselle Court of Appeal.
Little hope ten years later when the Human Rights League (LDH) sends a letter to the Seal Guardian requesting the reopening of the case on the progress of forensic medicine. What if the blood found on Ursule Plançon’s clothes was, as he claimed, that of a rabbit killed the day before, and not that of the victim? This letter will remain unanswered and he will serve his sentence until the end.
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