The Association of postcard collectors of Monaco dedicated its recent Bulletin to the most famous murder in the history of the Principality. A woman dismembered in 1907 by a diabolical couple…
Coincidence or not? While the drama of Pulcinella is still on everyone’s lips, the Monaco Association of Deltiologists (in French, cartophiles, or postcard collectors) has published, in its March Bulletin, a detailed account of surely the bloodiest crime in the history of Monaco. Starting from a postcard bearing the image of the executioners, the Goold couple, René-Yves Dubos conducted an investigation worthy of the greatest mystery novels. From Monaco to Marseille, via Nice, the deltiologist (collector of postcards) traced the itinerary of a body dismembered in the bathtub of a villa on the Boulevard des Moulins!
“An infallible trick”
In the beginning of 1905, Vere Thomas Saint Léger Goold, 54, and his wife Marie Violette, three years his senior, settled on the 1st floor of the Villa Menesini at 14 Boulevard des Moulins, in Monaco. A fallen aristocrat, Vere was an accomplished sportsman and he exceled in tennis to the point of being crowned champion of Ireland and participating in the third edition of Wimbledon. But this dandy was also full of vices (alcohol, drugs …) which led to his downfall. In his wake, “Lady Goold”, as the croupiers of the casino of Monte-Carlo called her, was not left behind to squander the common market.
After unsuccessful adventures in Canada and England, the couple came to the Riviera with an idea: “an infallible trick to win the roulette jackpot”. But the lure of money led the infernal duo to commit a crime much greater than a mere scam. In the middle of the summer of 1907, a terrifying act took place behind the closed doors of Villa Menesini. The case rapidly made headlines under different titles: “The crime of Monte Carlo”, “The bloody trunk”, “The red trunk”, “The woman chopped into pieces”. The trunk is what the Goold couple were trying to send to London as they hurriedly left le Rocher.
They had not counted on the discerning eye of an expedition clerk at the Saint-Charles train station in Marseilles. So on their way to Calais, the Gooldshad been negligent. A “reddish” liquid was seen oozing from the trunk with a “nauseating odour”. They would try to bribe the sender, but the jig was up.
The body in one bag, head in the other
Among bloodstained clothes, the police discovered the decapitated body of a woman. The limbs were cut and the abdomen ripped open, eviscerated. Her head and legs were found in another hand luggage, as well as a bag containing several pieces of jewellery.
The victim was identified as a Swedish national by the name of Lévin (or Liévin), who had been staying since June 1907 at the hotel Bristol. A regular of Casino, she was seen as “intelligent”, “eccentric” and “generous” notably with the Goold couple.
After being held in the Monaco jail, the Goolds were convicted and condemned to a prison sentence for the Monsieur and to the death penalty for the Madame. The grim reaper caught up with them in 1909 and 1914. Meanwhile Prince Albert I had had Mrs. Goold’s sentence commuted to hard labour for life. Thanks to the numerous photographs of the time, it is possible to see fragments of the surreal hearings of the perpetrators of this sordid act, including the re-enactment of the events, or of Mr. Goold being sent to the penal colony; The Bulletin of the Monaco Association of Deltiologists has all the gory details. A mystery novel on the Monegasque case is available from the association now (subject to membership). Hurry, the draw is limited! Monaco Association of Deltiologists. 17, rue de laTurbie. For more information: Cartophiles-monaco.com or 0611670661.
Questions for René-Yves Dubos, Deltiologist and author of the story
“A third party may have been involved”
The Goold case was dealt with “masterfully” by René-Yves Dubos, according to the President of the Monaco Association of Deltiologists, Patrick Occelli. And there is more to the story, according to Dubos, who briefly discussed his inquiry.
What was the starting point?
It was in one of our bi-monthly meetings. There are lots containing cards from all of France, which you can choose to buy or not, and there was this postcard with the portrait of the spouses Goold in front of the Monaco prison. I did not know the story so I didn’t buy it. I later realised that I had missed out on a gem when other members told me they were collecting other postcards from the case.
So people were sending postcards of murderers back then?
They were in 1907, postcards had been invented about thirty years prior (the first Monaco ones were published in 1892, Editor’s note) and it was a common means of communication at the time, since the stamps were worth 5 centimes. It also raises the question of the impact that this story had on the reputation of Monaco.
How long did your research take?
I’ve been working on this since June 2015. And it is not finished because certain details remain a mystery.
The story is condensed into 18 pages in our Bulletin, but I wrote 45. There are still questions about the trial itself. Prince Albert requested further investigation because there might have been a third person involved. I managed to trace all the genealogy of the Goold couple, but on the other hand it is very difficult to find information about the victim. Mr. Narmino, Director of Judicial Affairs, gave me access to the minutes of the trial, but unfortunately nothing was said about the victim. I still managed to find her death certificate.
Was Mrs. Goold’s death sentence the last in Monaco?
Certainly in the 20th century, yes. Moreover, Mr. Fouilleron, Palace archivist, would be interested to make this article part of the Monegasque Annales in 2018. We will have to conduct more elaborate research.
So thanks to the passion of postcard collectors more people will be able to guess at the enduring mystery of the most famous murder in Monaco.