Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Werewolf Syndrome: Compulsive Bestial Slaughterers

Cannibal Confessions

Grenier was no priest's son, it turned out, but the offspring of a poor laborer.  He'd been hired by several villagers to watch their sheep but had often neglected his duties.  Taken before the courts, he continued to state that he could take the form of a wolf, and then told his tale.  When he was 10, he insisted, a neighbor had taken him into the woods and introduced him to M. de la Forest, a dark-skinned man who gave them both a salve and a wolf-skin cape.  Thereafter, Grenier had found himself able to change into a wolf.  He claimed that he'd killed a dog, but initially did not admit to anything worse.

Then under more intense questioning, he admitted to going into a house, grabbing a baby and killing it.  He said he consumed it.  In another village, he killed and ate pieces from a little girl, and then repeated this in another place. He had done these things, he said, at the command of the "Lord of the Forest," adding that his father often accompanied him, also in the form of a wolf.  In addition, he'd seen his stepmother vomit up the paws of a dog and the finger of a child.

Since Grenier's accounts coincided with reports of missing children, his father and stepmother were questioned.  They agreed that Jean believed himself to be a wolf, but denied that they had any involvement in his misdeeds.  As authorities continued to investigate, they discovered that some children who'd been attacked but had survived bore wounds that were just as Grenier had described.  (He had pointed to one girl who'd said she'd been attacked by a large dog and identified her wounds accurately as having been made by his teeth.)  One girl claimed to have witnessed his transformation.

Grenier told his story again the next day in the presence of his father, without changing anything, but there was no evidence against the elder Grenier, so his case was dismissed.  As for Jean, the court believed him to be an imbecile who was hallucinating, and the judge stated that "the change of shape existed only in the brain of the insane."  In that case, because he was not responsible for his acts he could not be punished, so he was sent to perpetual imprisonment in a monastery at Bordeaux.  If he attempted to escape, he was warned, he'd be executed.

The monks had quite a time of it.  They were to instruct Grenier in the Christian teachings, but he immediately loped around the courtyard on all fours and ate a pile of raw offal.  Still, they kept him there and tried to do what they could for him.  An official from the court visited him after seven years and learned from Grenier that he still craved the taste of flesh and still entertained visits from his dark master.  Only a few months later, at the age of twenty, he died.

Adam Douglas indicates in The Beast Within that this case effectively ended the persecution and trials of supposed werewolves in the French judicial system.  But before that, there were numerous sensational incidents involving the so-called loup-garou.


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