Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Crime Passionnel

The Verdict

As the jurors retired to begin deliberations, a throng gathered outside the Reims Palace of Justice, located on the city square. Jurors watched from a window as the crowd grew to thousands in just 30 minutes.

Palace of Justice
Palace of Justice

Shouts of support for Yvonne evolved into a unison chant: Liberez-la! (Free her!)

And so they did. The seven men voted to acquit after just 45 minutes of discussion. Mrs. Chevallier was cheered as she left the courthouse, and the Perreaus, walking arm in arm, were hooted.

France judged that justice had been done, although Le Parisien Libere wrote that the chanting crowd outside the jury room was a bit excessive. A number of women writers declared the verdict a victory for their sex.

Mrs. Chevallier rejoined her sons on her familys farm. The Catholic Church granted Yvonne absolution for the killing--an important appendage of her criminal trial for the observant woman.

She tried to resume a normal life, but her reputation as Frances No. 1 criminelle passionelle would not allow it.

Gradually, she became overwhelmed by a combination of guilt, heartache and notoriety.

Finally, under advice from her priest, family and friends, she decided to move away and start life anew.

She devised a self-imposed penance by moving with her sons to French New Guinea, in West Africa. She spent years there working as a volunteer nurse at a hospital for the poor.

By and large, the French press left her alone in her work. In the countrys crime lore, she is regarded today as a victim of Cupids mistakea mismatched love. She is believed to have died in obscurity in the 1970s.

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