Laetitia Toureaux

When Laetitia Nourrissat Toureaux boarded a metro that left Porte de Charenton station in Paris at 6:27 one evening in May 1937, she was the only person in the first-class carriage. When it pulled into the next station just a minute later, three people boarded through the doors on both ends of the carriage. Toureaux was still the only person there, but now she was slumped forward with a dagger protruding from her neck.

It’s partly the impossibility of the murder that makes Toureaux’s death so fascinating, but she also lived an unusual life. By day, the Italian widow worked in a glue factory. At night, she frequented seedy nightclubs and worked as a surveillance and message-delivery specialist for a private detective agency. This eventually led to her becoming a paid informant for the Parisian police, a position that definitely came with enemies.

She is also believed to have been having an affair with Gabriel Jeantet, a prominent right-wing journalist. Jeantet was also an arms smuggler for the most powerful underground organization in Paris at the time, a terrorist group called the Comite secret d’action revolutionnaire. Their nickname was the Cagoule, literally “hooded,” as they wore hoods to protect their identities.

The group was funded by the city’s social and financial elite, and it waged a campaign of terror in an attempt to break trade unions and other left-leaning organizations. They were responsible for seven confirmed murders, two bombings, and the formation of a militia. They even stockpiled weapons and built an underground prison.

In 1937, two members of the group were placed under interrogation. They claimed that Toureaux’s murder had been committed by their chief assassin, Jean Filliol. One of the men later changed his story, and the other man had been beaten prior to giving the information, so it’s hard to be certain how much they actually knew.

In any case, World War II soon put a halt to the investigation, and by the mid-1940s, Filliol had fled to Spain. Other rumors suggest that Toureaux was killed because she knew too much about a plot involving Mussolini, as the dagger-in-the-neck technique was popular with professional assassins from Italy. By the time police were in a position to resume their investigation, there were too many obstacles in their way, leaving Toureaux’s murder a mystery to this day.