Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Madeleine Smith Story

A Death in Glasgow

Emile L'Angelier
Emile L'Angelier
Just past 2:00 a.m. on March 23, 1857, Emile L'Angelier stumbled through the dark Glasgow streets towards his lodging house, doubled over and gripping his stomach.

His landlady helped him to his room and got him settled into bed. She asked if he had eaten anything that might have caused this illness. Emile said he had not, but the landlady wondered. It was his third attack of stomach illness in less than two months.

At the same time, in the nearby home of the notable architect James Smith, one person of the household may not have been asleep, and a single candle may have cast long shadows across the elegant rooms.

At 5:00 a.m., seeing that her lodgers condition was getting worse, the landlady went out to fetch a doctor. The doctor told her to give Emile laudanum-laced water and a poultice and to return, if necessary, later that morning.

At six oclock, the servants of the Smith household woke and began their morning chores. The Smith family would breakfast in their rooms, and if anyone noticed unusual behavior from the eldest daughter Madeleine, they attributed it to a young bride-to-bes nerves about her upcoming wedding.

The doctor visited Emile twice that morning: first at about 7:00, when he examined the patient, and again at eleven. The landlady reported on the doctors second visit that Emile had been sleeping peacefully. The doctor examined the patient and quietly told the landlady to draw the curtains. The man is dead.

The drawing of the curtains in Emile's small room started a web that spun quickly outwards and would, in the space of one week, lead to the discovery of stacks of illicit love letters, cause someone intimately close to the deceased to flee Glasgow, and see James Smith's eldest daughter Madeleine arrested for the murder of her lover, Emile L'Angelier.

 

 

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