You’ve heard Dan McCafferty’s line about love’s sting, right? Well, that’s barely scratching the surface. Love can be lethal. Countless heartbroken Romeos and scorned Juliets throughout history have drowned their sorrows in a pool of blood, leaving behind lifeless bodies.
The Gaston Calmette Slaying
Sure, Paris is billed as the “City of Love,” but where there’s love, murder’s never too far off. Consider the tale of Henriette Raynouard, for instance. This French socialite married Joseph Caillaux, a seasoned politician and famed womanizer, in 1911. Joseph, who had abandoned his first wife for the charming Henriette, was fresh off a stint as prime minister.
Being part of the center-left Radical Party and championing pro-German policies, Joseph was far from popular. Even after his term ended in 1912, he still wielded significant influence, which didn’t sit well with Gaston Calmette. The editor of Le Figaro and a vocal critic of Caillaux, Calmette viewed Joseph as a danger to France and was determined to ruin his reputation.
Calmette sent shockwaves through Paris in 1914 when he publicized a love note between Joseph and his first mistress, Berthe Gueydan. With Joseph’s affairs laid bare, Henriette grew increasingly anxious. Gossip was rife that Calmette planned to expose the passionate letters between her and Joseph, which were penned during their own illicit romance. Fearing for her reputation and that of her husband, Henriette resolved to confront the newspaper editor.
On March 16, 1914, Henriette walked into Calmette’s office, her hands shrouded beneath a scarf. As she stepped in, she boldly asked the unsuspecting editor, “You know why I’m here, don’t you?” Baffled, Calmette retorted, “No idea, Madame.” This was when Henriette revealed a Browning automatic from her handwarmer and unleashed six bullets into Calmette’s abdomen. As the police closed in, Henriette asserted, “Don’t lay a hand on me! I am a lady!”
The ensuing trial was a media sensation. Henriette cleverly played the damsel card, peppering her testimony with references to the unconscious mind and the nervous system. The all-male jury was moved by her pleas, and it took them less than an hour to declare her not guilty. Now vindicated, Henriette used her newfound freedom to pursue art and author a book before her death in 1943.
George Remus was a man of many hats. He started as a pharmacist, then switched to law, and when the Volstead Act came into effect in 1919, he found his true calling. Moving to Cincinnati, he leveraged his pharmacist’s license to procure whiskey under the guise of medical use and launched a mega-successful bootlegging operation.
Remus was known for his flashy lifestyle, owning a fancy mansion decked out with a swimming pool, horse stable, and baseball field. His parties were the talk of the town, with guests leaving with diamond-encrusted watches and new cars. It’s even rumored that this “Bootlegging King” was the inspiration behind F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby. And like Gatsby, Remus had his heart set on a certain woman, Imogene Holmes. Smitten, Remus left his first wife, and together with Imogene, they ran one of the largest alcohol empires in the US.
But when Remus got nabbed in 1924, he made two big blunders. First, he entrusted his illegal operation to Imogene, giving her power of attorney. Next, he spilled the beans to fellow inmate Frank Dodge about Imogene controlling his wealth. Unbeknownst to him, Dodge was an undercover FBI agent. On release, Dodge teamed up with Imogene, selling all of Remus’ assets and running off with the loot.
Needless to say, Remus was far from pleased when he got out. His fury escalated when Imogene sought a divorce, tried to get him deported, and even attempted to bump him off. The tension boiled over on October 6, 1927—the day their divorce was due to be finalized. As Imogene exited the courthouse, Remus had his chauffeur force her taxi off the road in Eden Park. Emerging from the crash, Imogene found herself facing the barrel of Remus’ gun, and he didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
In the subsequent trial, Remus played his own lawyer, arguing temporary insanity. Remarkably, the jury bought his story and acquitted him. But he was committed to a mental facility for six months. After his release, Remus spent his remaining years striving to rebuild his wealth, but he died penniless in 1952, convinced till the end that he’d done right by offing his wife.
Deadly Deception in a Chat Room
Thomas Montgomery was a 47-year-old family man from New Hampshire, living with his wife and two kids. But that’s not what he told “Talhotblond,” the 18-year-old he got to know in a Pogo chat room. He claimed to be Tommy, a teen fresh from the Iraq War, and they hit it off. Jessi, as “Talhotblond” was also known, started sending steamy pictures.
Montgomery loved the attention and his online escapades, boasting to friends. But his secret fun ended when his wife found out and spilled the beans to Jessi. Jessi was shocked and ended things with Montgomery, instead becoming close to his 22-year-old co-worker, Brian Barrett.
Thomas didn’t take the change well. He began sending Jessi threatening messages, one saying “Brian will pay in blood.” When he learned Brian planned to visit Jessi (a trip she canceled last minute), he decided Brian had to go. On September 15, 2006, he shot Barrett in his car with a .30-caliber rifle.
When the police found out about the love triangle, they decided to warn Jessi. But when they arrived at Jessi’s home, they found Mary Shieler, a middle-aged woman. The real Jessi, her daughter, knew nothing about Montgomery or Barrett. Her mother had been catfishing both men.
While the police couldn’t arrest Shieler, they got Montgomery, who was sentenced to 20 years. Shieler’s life fell apart too, with her husband and daughter leaving her.
Murderous Mercedes Ride
Clara Harris and David, her husband, were dentists from Houston who seemed like the perfect couple. They had three kids, a comfortable house, and luxury cars, including Clara’s Mercedes. But their perfect life shattered when David admitted to an affair with his ex-receptionist.
Clara went to great lengths to win David back. She quit her job, started exercising, changed her hair color, worked on her tan, and even planned for breast augmentation. But when these attempts failed, she took a more drastic approach.
She hired a private detective to trail David and his lover. On July 24, 2002, she received a call. The couple was spotted at the Nassau Bay Hilton in Houston, where Clara and David had tied the knot. Enraged, Clara and her stepdaughter sped off to the hotel in her Mercedes.
Arriving at the Hilton, Clara stormed the lobby and attacked the other woman, leading to a scuffle. After being escorted outside by hotel security, she got back in her car. Seeing the pair walk away, she stepped on the gas, hitting David, and running over him—three times.
As fate would have it, the detective Clara had hired recorded the entire incident. Together with her stepdaughter’s testimony, the video proved damning. Clara, dubbed the Mercedes-Benz Murderess, was sentenced to 20 years, the maximum for acting with “sudden passion.” She was denied parole in 2013, but she had another shot at freedom in 2014
The Tragic Tale of Celeste Beard and Tracey Tarlton
Steven Beard, a wealthy 69-year-old man from Austin, Texas, found himself lonely after losing his wife. That’s when he met Celeste Johnson, an attractive 32-year-old waitress at his country club. However, Celeste had a history full of depression, suicide attempts, and even legal troubles. Regardless of these red flags and a significant age difference, they tied the knot in 1995. Things quickly went downhill from there.
Their marriage was cold, and Celeste would often drug Steven’s food to sneak off with one of her ex-husbands. She openly insulted Steven’s weight and was even heard wishing his death. Additionally, she couldn’t control her spending habits with Steven’s money, leading him to cancel her credit cards. After a big fight that ended with a suicide threat from Celeste, Steven admitted her to a hospital. That’s where she crossed paths with Tracey Tarlton.
Tarlton, 35, was grappling with her own issues of substance abuse. But she was smitten with Celeste. After only a few days, she started sending love letters to Celeste, sparking an affair that outlasted their hospital stay. Celeste’s daughters even caught them in the act at Steven’s house. However, while Tracey was genuinely in love, Celeste was playing a dangerous game that involved Tracey, Steven, and a shotgun.
On October 2, 1999, Celeste left her house doors open and hid away in her bedroom. Soon, Tracey slipped in, armed with a 20-gauge shotgun. Finding Steven asleep, she shot him in the stomach. Steven managed to dial 911, exclaiming, “My guts are in my hands.”
Investigators found a shell from Tracey’s gun and charged her with murder when Steven succumbed to his injuries. But they also had their doubts about Celeste, especially after she spent $550,000 in just two months following Steven’s death. However, Tracey refused to accuse her lover—until she found out that Celeste had remarried. Feeling betrayed, Tracey spilled the beans about Celeste’s sinister plan. With the additional testimonies from Celeste’s own children, Celeste was put behind bars. She won’t be eligible for parole until 2043. As for Tracey, she was freed in August 2011, hopefully never to repeat her past mistakes.