In 1976 near Alençon, a “bazaar wizard” murdered: when witchcraft leads to tragedy

Occurring in Hesloup, this surprising news item was judged in Alençon, a few months later, in May 1977. ©L’Orne hebdo

It dates back to 1976. A case that made headlines many media of the time, local and national. For good reason: a pinch of witchcraft, a few seeds of bewitchment, two or three local characters and the case is in the bag. Or rather in the courtroom.

One evening of February 1976Jean was found dead in his bed, Hesloup, near Alençon (Orne). Killed with a single shotgun bullet.

“The author of our misfortunes”

On the dock, a few months later, two boys in their twenties convinced that John is a wizard. How bewitched they were! Their ills, their worries, there’s no beating around the bush: it’s the fault of this Jean of misfortune.

According to the minutes of the trial held in Alençon in May 1977, it is a TV show which triggered the murderous process. The mother and her sons, Michel and Daniel, were watching “The Last Five Minutes”, and the story of a bewitched man who kills a wizard to escape the spell.

For the youngest, there was no more hesitation: he had to get rid of the wizard. When nothing goes, it’s quickly the fault of others… The grass in the poultry pen that no longer grows, the death two years earlier of a brother, the illness of a nephew, the death of the dog , a road accident, farm animals found dead, sometimes it doesn’t take much to sow anger and fear in the minds of this family, and to hatch a tragedy.

“Sorcery revalorizes its cretin character”

the drama was in power, lurking in people’s minds. It took a bit of alcohol and a movie to set it all off. “The author of our misfortunes”, this is how Michel described his victim during the trial. “The brother died, my sister had an accident and Jean told me that I wouldn’t be long to follow…”. On returning home that evening, he would have said to his mother: “The beast is dead. »

“It was him or us,” explained to the judges the mother, called as a witness. But who was this presumed sorcerer?

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“A bazaar wizard, parade, who will try to make believe that he has inherited the gifts of touch from his father… Witchcraft revalorizes his cretin character, he triggered the mechanism of his death. »

Attorney General at the time

On the one hand a man who creates “a climate of fear”, on the other three “simple beings” who live in a vacuum obsessed with a single topic of conversation. In the courtroom, the folklore of the depths of the Ornais bocage has become real. Fear had taken on a face. Then had turned into hatred.

Mitigating circumstances

Prosecuted for murder, the youngest was sentenced to eight years in prison. His brother, on trial for complicity, took five years. The extenuating circumstances have been granted.

In Orne and Normandy, stories relating to witchcraft are numerous and have been the subject of several books. There are evoked sorcerers, healers, disenchanters, even ghost stories and houses inhabited by spirits.

For a dive into a medieval world. But witchcraft is also a story that is written in the present.

Sources: The Fighting Orne of May 12, 1977 and Archives The world.

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In 1976 near Alençon, a “bazaar wizard” murdered: when witchcraft leads to tragedy

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