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Continued from Part One
In describing his relationship with the various corpses he excavated, Victor Ardisson was always extremely candid and showed little, if any, real understanding of why his crimes were seen as repugnant. There were very little affection in his life, except for his adopted father, but he was rarely depressed and often remained abnormally cheerful despite his being the butt of jokes and pranks by all the other people in the village. His army record suggested that the other members of his regiment treated him the same way. For Victor though, his secret visits to the graveyard and the emotional attachment he had to his assorted "conquests" was comfort enough.
According to the medical examination he would later receive, Victor had unusually poor upper body strength. This likely accounted for his inability to carry any of the larger bodies home with him though it was small comfort for the families of the various deceased. He was able to manage smaller bodies though, including the young children, and was able to take them home in one piece. In other cases, he simply took the head of the corpse home with him.
After he was done with a body, he carefully concealed all traces of his activities and never returned to a grave that he had already violated. While even Victor was uncertain about the exact number of bodies he dug up over time, the pattern he followed with each corpse was largely the same. With all of the female corpses, Victor preferred to be as affectionate as he could, including passionate kissing and romantic language as he referred to each of the dead women as his "fiancee."
His last victim was a three and a half-year-old girl known only as "Louise." Victor brought her entire body to the house and kept it for over a week. By this time, the smells resulting from putrefaction was enough to cause Honore to investigate and Victor was arrested at last. While awaiting trial, he was held in the Draguignan jail as the court tried to determine whether Victor was even fit to stand trial.
The publicity over Victor's case made news around the world and all of Victor's neighbours were horrified at their town's newfound fame (or notoriety). As family members of women who had been buried in the graveyard tried to discover whether their loved ones had been desecrated, the judge and prosecutors grappled over the question of what to do with Victor. To advise the court, Victor received a comprehensive psychiatric examination by a series of psychiatrists, including Dr. Alexis Epaulard, one of the first forensic psychiatrists to study necrophilia and vampirism.
In a report that is still a classic, Dr. Epaulard described his sessions with Victor, whom he regarded as a "degenerate impulsive sadist and necrophile." Since Cesare Lombroso's biological theories of criminology were still popular at the time, the doctor commented on his patient's various physical quirks, including some facial asymmetry and his apparent lack of intelligence, all of which fit in with the idea that Victor was a "born criminal".
Victor also seemed incapable of understanding the gravity of the charges against him and often laughed at the various questions the doctors asked. The only time he expressed any anxiety in prison was when he asked if the authorities were planning to chop off his penis. This tendency to giggle at inappropriate moments reinforced the impression that Victor was hopelessly insane. He seemed quite happy in prison since he was free to smoke as much as he wanted and was well-fed. As for his crimes, he showed a total lack of remorse but seemed quite pleased to know that he had become famous.
Based on the psychiatric reports entered as testimony, the court quickly found Victor not guilty by reason of insanity. While he seemed downright giddy at the thought of being guillotined for his crimes, nobody really wanted to execute him. Instead, he was sentenced to the psychiatric hospital at Pierefeud-du-Var for the rest of his life.
Even after his sentencing, Victor became quietly famous in forensic circles (even though the people of Le Muy preferred to forget all about him). While Victor's case likely doesn't compare to the careers of later necrophiles such as Ed Gein (and there is certainly no evidence that he ever killed any of his victims), the details were intriguing enough to make his case memorable. Epaulard's thesis became a classic in the study of necrophilia and numerous other authorities, including Richard Krafft-Ebing weighed in with their own analyses of Victor's crimes.
Prominent psychoanalysts also contributed their own speculations about Victor's motivation. William Stekel interviewed Victor directly and described some of his more bizarre claims, such as having sex with the corpse of his mother (which Stekel dismissed as fantasy). Still, other claims that Victor made, including his fondness for eating cats and rats as well as his earning money by prostituting himself to some of the men in the village were seen as more plausible. Victor was also fond of drinking his own semen saying that it was a "pity to let it go to waste." Stekel also speculated about Victor's castration fears and how they were related to his sexual perversion and concluded that he was suffering from a form of sexual infantilism linked to his low intelligence.
Today, the village of Le Muy has a population of over nine thousand people and a thriving economy. It's main claim to historical fame is that it was one of the first towns to be liberated by the Allies following the Allied Invasion in 1944. Visitors to Le Muy can see the Liberation Museum as well as various architectural monuments dating back to medieval times. As for the Vampire of Muy, he is a part of Le Muy's history that the locals would prefer to forget.
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