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"The Monte Carlo Trunk Murder"
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Robbery - Dismemberment
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: August 4, 1907
Date of arrest: 2 days after
Date of birth: 1850
Victim profile: Mme. Emma Levin
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Monte Carlo, Monaco
Status: Sentenced to death on December 4, 1907. Commuted to life imprisonment in January 1908. Died of typhoid fever in a Montpellier jail in 1914
photo gallery

Marie Vere Goold - 1907

Mrs. Goold seems to have been a serial killer. She had been married three times. Crime historian Jay Robert Nash notes that her earlier life had been one of an “adventuress” and that “her first two husbands died mysteriously,” adding that “there may have been more husbands who met the same fate.”

[Jay Robert Nash, Look for the Woman, 1981, p. 169]


Think Goolds Crazy

Marseilles People Horrified by Trunk Murder

The Washington Herald (D.C.)

Sep. 1, 1907

Marseilles, Aug. 31. – The terrible murder of Mme. Emma Levin and the finding of her dismembered body in a trunk at the railway station here continues to be the subject of almost universal discussion here and at Monte Carlo where the tragedy occurred.

The grewsome confession made by tie man Goold now in custody for the crime borne out as it was by the confession of his wife who is also in custody is nut believed by the magistrate who him and the theory of insanity finds a good deal of acceptance.

Goold a man of fifty-four is described as amiable and clever excellent company with a hobby for amateur photography. He comes of a good Irish family being the youngest brother of Sir James Goold who succeeded his uncle in the title in 1900. On the death of an intermediate brother Frederick Goold. In 1900 he laid claim to the tile and has used it is said that he even went so far as to offer his eider brother the real baronet who is in Australia, $500 if he would waive his claim.

Mrs. Goolds Career

Mrs. Goold is the daughter of an iron monger called Girodin at La Scone Isere and was born in 1860. She was brought up as a dressmaker As mere she is recognized as a woman of great energy with complete authority over her husband Marie Girodin who lived with her father and mother wile first married to a young man of St. Marcellin, contrary to parents wishes. A week after the wedding the young woman left her new home with a little money. She took refuge in Geneva where she worked for some times a dressmaker and then proceeded to London where she met Goold.

It is sixteen years since she married Goold at St Mary of the Angels Paddington Soon afterward the business is believed to have decreased and they went to Montreal in Canada and established a large dressmaking business catering for the best society. Three years ago they retired and went to 18 Adelaide terrace Waterloo Liverpool where they adopted the title of Sir Vere and Lady Goold. There they lived in apparent affluence and appeared to have been accepted by one section of society as thorough gentlefolk of high degree.

Makes Good Impression

Mrs. Goolds is described by one who knew her then as an accomplished amiable and generous woman a French lady to her finger tips. Much of their time was spent in travel. During the last three years they have occupied a charming suite on the first floor of the Villa Menesini in the Boulevard des Moulin Monte Carlo where they were accompanied by their niece Mlle. Girodin.

Mme. Emma Levis was the widow of a great Stockholm merchant who died about eight years ago. She moved in good society and was well-to-do. She was always smartly dressed and was very intelligent. Her mother still lives. During the last two months the victim of the tragedy staying the Hotel Bristol Monte Carlo where she made the acquaintance of the Goolds.

Mme Levin had no children of her own. She adopted some years ago a little girl of poor parents who lived in Switzerland. She kept the child for several years and became very much attached to her but the parents ultimately insisted upon their daughter being restored to them Mme Castellazi a Swedish lady who knew Mme Levin at Monte Carlo spoke very highly of her to a representative of the Petit Parisian Mme Castelfezi said that the only fault to find with her was that she was too fond of jewelry and took an ostentatious delight in wearing it. She possessed fine diamonds her jewelry being estimated to be worth more than $10,000 and on Sunday evening she left the Hotel Bristol at Monte Carlo where she was staying wearing the greater part of them.

Disappears at the Villa

On Sunday August 4 at 5 o’clock Mme Levin entered the Villa Menesini and was not again seen alive At the time it is said that she was wearing most of her valuable collection of jewels.

Whatever happened at the villa on Sunday night it is certain that Mme. Levin murdered there. A servant girl states that she heard sounds of a struggle and a voice cried out: “Let me alone.” But the next step in the drama was the arrest of Mr. and Mrs. Goold at Marseilles on Tuesday. They had with luggage from Monte Carlo that morning and had left a largo trunk at the station with instructions to dispatch it to London. They themselves drove to a hotel where they used the name of Mr. and Mrs. Javanach. A porter named Louis Pons noticed that blood was oozing from the trunk and in spite of Mr. Goolds assertion that it only contained poultry informed the police Mr. and Mrs. Goold were then brought back to the station and the trunk was opened in their presence. It contained the butchered body of Mme. Levin.

The head and parts of the legs were missing. They were found in a small portmanteau which Goold was holding. The woman had several wounds on the head and she had been stabbed several times in the chest Mr. and Mrs. Goold were then arrested.

First Blame Another

The Goolds first account of the tragedy admits the mutilations but denies all responsibility for the murder Mrs. Goold declares that when Mme Levin visited her home a man rushed in with a knife in his hand and killed her. He shouted: “You wretch. You have ruined me. Now I am going to kill you.” Mr. Goold stated that the woman was killed by a man during the absence of himself and his wife and that they decided to cut the body in nieces and put them in a trunk in order to avoid scandal An examination of the villa revealed that the walls of the dining room were splashed with blood. Two saws a chopper a knife and a dagger were also discovered.


Vere Thomas "St. Leger" Goold (2 October 1853 in Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland - 8 September 1909 Devil's Island, French Guiana penal colony) was an Irish tennis player. He quickly faded from the game and ended his life in prison convicted of murder and premature death, by suicide.


Vere Goold was born into a wealthy family. In his early life he apparently had boxing skills as well as tennis skills. In June 1879 he became the first Irish tennis champion after drubbing his opponent, C.D. Barry, 8–6, 8–6 in the final. Later that summer Vere tried his luck at the third edition of the Wimbledon Championships and made it all the way to the All-Comers final in which he was defeated by Reverend John Hartley, 2-6, 4-6, 2-6.

A few months later he competed in the first open tournament held at Cheltenham. He again reached the final and lost, this time to the famous William Renshaw, in a a closely fought match, 4-6, 3-6, 6-5, 6-5, 4-6. He wasted a 4-1 lead in the final set.

After an illness he failed to defend his Irish title in 1880, losing out in the Challenge Round, again to William Renshaw 1-6, 4-6, 3-6. St. Leger's career went downhill and he disappeared from the tennis scene by 1883.

Personal life and murder conviction

Vere Goold's life after 1883 was wasted on drink and drugs. One day he was asked by a relative to pay a bill at a dressmaker's shop in the Bayswater section of London that was owned by a Miss Marie Giraudin. This French lady (from most accounts) was not beautiful but could charm people when she wanted. It was not too difficult for her to charm Goold, who was from a prominent Irish social family.

The accounts of the case are not always in tandem, but she had been married twice before, and she was a woman of very expensive tastes. Apparently she did not care how she got the money to pay for them. Unfortunately Vere Goold was not from the wealthy portion of his family, and whatever prospects he had were long gone. The dressmaker's shop was not a real success, especially as Mrs. Goold apparently borrowed money from many of her customers.

In 1891, Goold married Marie Giraudin. The couple quickly descended into debt. They moved to Montreal, Canada in 1897 where Marie had a dressmaking establishment before moving to Liverpool in 1903 to manage a laundry business.

In 1907 Mrs. Goold convinced Vere Goold to go to Monte Carlo to try their luck at the casino. She thought she had a winning method for the gambling tables. They took with them her niece, Isabelle Giraudin. They also used the titles of "Sir" Vere and "Lady" Goold, which they claimed they were entitled to use.

According to Charles Kingston the system did not work, but Leonard Gribble's account suggests that it worked for at least a couple of days or a week. However, soon the Goolds were without funds. They met a wealthy Swedish woman, Emma Levin, at the Casino, the widow of a Stockholm broker. Mrs. Levin already had a parasitical "friend" named Madame Castellazi, but soon the widow had Mrs. Goold as well. The two "hangers-on" detested each other, and finally had a public dispute in the Casino. This got into the social columns at Monte Carlo, and Madame Levin decided she had to leave the city due to the publicity.

At this point the sources on the case are at variance again. Either Marie Goold or her husband Vere Goold borrowed 40 pounds from Madame Levin, and she wanted it repaid. Kingston makes it seem that when confronting Marie Goold the widow saw what a dangerous person the latter was. Gribble suggests that the demand to Vere Goold for repayment played into Marie Goold's scheme to murder the widow for the purposes of theft (of her cash and jewelry).

On 4 August 1907 Madame Levin went to their hotel to collect the debt before she left Monte Carlo. Madame Castellazi was waiting for her at Madame Levin's hotel, and when she did not come by midnight she went to the police. They went to the hotel of the Goolds. Vere and Marie Goold had left for Marseille, but they left Isabelle behind (explaining that Mr. Goold had to see a doctor there). Blood stains were found in the suite, as well as some items like a saw and a hammer with blood on them. Also Madame Castellazi recognized Madame Levin's parasol.

The Goolds were in Marseille in a hotel (they were going to head for London). They had left a large trunk at the railway station at Marseille, and one of the clerks at the station named Pons noted it smelled due to blood that was leaking out of the bottom. The trunk was traced to the Goolds, and Pons confronted them.

Again the details of the sources vary: Kingston says he wanted them to explain why it was leaking blood and come to the station to open the trunk up; Gribble says that Pons sought (and got) a small bribe to shut up about it. But either Pons told his superiors and the police of his suspicions (the Goolds said the trunk was full of freshly slaughtered poultry) or he talked too much and the story of the trunk got out. In any case, before the Goolds could leave Marseille they had to face the French police. The trunk was opened and the remains of Madame Levin found.

Vere Goold apparently loved Marie Goold deeply—he confessed that he was the murderer. However the relative strengths of character of the two came out in the course of the trial, which attracted great attention. Marie Goold was sentenced to death, and Vere Goold was sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil's Island. But Mrs. Goold's sentence was reduced to life imprisonment. It did not do either of them much good. Vere Goold committed suicide on September 8, 1909, within a year of arriving at Devil's Island. Marie Goold died of typhoid fever in a Montpellier jail in 1914.


A murder in Monte Carlo

By Mark Hodgkinson -

April 3, 2012

Vere Thomas St Leger Goold was an Irish aristocrat, a Wimbledon finalist, an alcoholic, an opium addict, a slow payer of his gambling debts, and all-round “degenerate”, and in the summer of 1907 he was arrested at Marseille railway station after he was found to have a woman’s naked, headless, dismembered and disembowelled body in his leather trunk.

The legs were inside a valise, the head was in his wife’s hat-box, and the intestines would later be discovered somewhere along the Cote d’Azur near Monte Carlo, hanging from an iron stake. This did not sit easily with Goold’s wish to be seen as a gentleman.

Goold’s talent for the emerging game of tennis had brought him a few days of fame in London when he appeared in the 1879 Wimbledon final, a match he lost to a vicar from Yorkshire, and twenty-eight years later he achieved global notoriety after he and his French wife Marie were convicted of murder at the courthouse in Monte Carlo. Rather than repay a gambling debt to a wealthy Swedish widow, the Goolds had bludgeoned and slashed Emma Levin to death in their rented villa with a pestle, an Indian dagger and a butcher’s knife.

Though Vere would later suggest he had struggled physically and psychologically with the grisly task of severing Levin’s head and legs and ripping out her guts, as “the body looked so horrible that I could not bear to see it”, this was a crime that appeared to be as callous as it was gruesome. The day after they killed her, the Goolds sat down for dinner at their apartment, while at their feet was a bag filled with Levin’s jumbled body-parts.

Soon the world’s newspapers would pore over every ghastly detail of what became widely known as the story of ‘La Malle Sanglante’, ‘The Bloody Trunk’, including how the Goolds had been caught after blood had seeped from their luggage onto the stone floor of the station’s goods office. As the New York Times noted in August 1907: “All other topics have been paled into insignificance by the ‘Trunk Murder’ – the papers have been full of it.” The lurid, extensive coverage of the murder attracted numerous ‘scandal-seekers’, ghouls and gossips, and provoked public and press outrage at a decadent, repellent world which was corrupting “pure English girls”, and leading to “suicides and tragedies”.

For some European and American commentators, this episode demonstrated why the Monte Carlo Casino was a ‘Devil’s Paradise’, a ‘Glittering Hell’, or ‘House of Perdition’, and a letter published in The Times asked: “How long are the nations of Europe going to tolerate the continuance of this plague-spot in their midst?”

‘The Rooms’ at the Casino were never more influential than during the early years of the twentieth century, attracting royalty, industrialists, singers, showgirls, prostitutes and the courtesans known as the ‘Grandes Horizontales’ of ‘La Belle Epoque’. As a contemporary travel report in the influential British publication, Pearson’s Magazine, observed of the scene inside the white-stone building: “A strange congregation of people promenade between the pillars, or rest in the lounges.

The smart, the dowdy, the eminently respectable, the bizarre, all are there.” Smart European society lived vicariously through the tales of misbehaviour on the rock. Visiting the casino for the first time could still be shocking, and the young, newly-wed Duchess of Marlborough was astonished to see so many “ladies of easy virtue”.

The arrival of the Goolds, who had been drawn to the principality by Marie’s belief that she had developed a ‘system’ for playing roulette, added to the number of those untrustworthy enough to be considered ‘adventurers’.

The Irishman and his petit bourgeois French wife introduced themselves as ‘Sir’ and ‘Lady’, maintaining that a baronetcy had passed to him when his older brother died after being thrown from a horse and landing on his head, when the truth was that ‘Sir’ Stephen James Goold was still alive and living in Australia, where he had dropped his title so as not to upset his fellow railway gangers.

The gossip in Monte Carlo was that Marie had been born into a peasant family, that she had worked as a domestic servant and waited tables in a cafe, and, this was perhaps the most damaging of all the allegations, that she had been Vere’s mistress before they were married. There could hardly have been a family under greater scrutiny than the Goolds, as there was suspicion over Vere’s right to the title he had claimed for himself, and Marie’s niece, Isabelle, who had accompanied her uncle and aunt to Monaco, was rumoured to be a prostitute.

The Goolds’ victim was a middle-aged woman who had aspired to lead the dissipated, dissolute life of a ‘demi-mondaine’. Most evenings, after the roulette tables had closed at midnight, Levin was to be found in the cafes around Place du Casino, where she would display her diamonds, drink until the early hours, flirt, smoke cigarillos, and ‘make promiscuous acquaintances’. Levin had had a difficult upbringing – after her father abandoned the family, she was brought up in a children’s home, and by the age of seventeen she was on the police register of ‘loose women’, and by eighteen she had been admitted to hospital with syphilis.

Though her husband, a successful Stockholm merchant called Leopold Levin, had been taken by her “handsome figure, and better appearance than most girls of her position”, they had an unhappy, childless marriage. After Leopold’s recent death, now was the time for Emma Levin to indulge herself with his money.

The Goolds had such a poor run at the roulette wheels in 1907 that Vere broke down back at the villa – their financial situation was so desperate that he could hardly afford another bottle of whisky. Soon enough, the Goolds had also lost all the money which they borrowed from Levin, too. An unsigned letter was slipped under the door of Levin’s hotel room, informing her that Vere and Marie were fraudsters and he had no legal right to a title. Levin demanded immediate repayment of the loan. On Sunday the fourth of August 1907, Levin accepted an invitation to collect her money from the Goolds’ rented apartment.

It was as Levin sat in a high-backed armchair in the drawing room, sipping from a glass of cherry liqueur, that Vere struck her on the back of the head. There was an almighty struggle, and Levin’s blood spurted over the walls, ceiling and furniture, and a post-mortem would later determine that she had been stabbed sixteen times with the dagger and knife, with wounds to her stomach, chest, back, neck and face.

Too drunk that night to cut through bone, even with the help of butcher’s saws, Vere waited until the morning to dissect Levin. After removing Levin’s clothes and diamonds, Vere amputated the legs. On a number of occasions during the long and difficult job of severing the head, Vere felt as though he was about to vomit, and he walked away from the cadaver, left the room, and poured himself a whisky. Concerned that the guts would quickly putrefy, Vere disposed of them on a beach.

The next evening, the Goolds caught the overnight train to Marseille, and on their arrival the next morning, they asked for their trunk to be placed in storage. When one of the porters walked to the Goolds’ hotel, to tell them that a pool of sticky blood had formed around the trunk, he was not satisfied with Vere’s explanation that they were transporting “dead chickens”, and he alerted the local police of his suspicions.

As soon as the trunk was opened, the denials began. Though the Goolds admitted cutting Levin’s body, they denied murder. According to Marie, one of Levin’s young lovers had bounded into the room and killed the widow, and they had been trying to dispose of the body to avoid being implicated in a crime they had not committed.

Marie then changed her account to suggest that her husband had indeed murdered Levin. In his Marseille prison cell, a distressed Goold screamed out in his sleep every night because of a recurring dream he had in which his own legs were sawn off, and then casually discarded in a sack. In a letter to his wife, Goold asked: “I wonder if all these horrors are a bad dream?” When the police brought the Goolds back to Monte Carlo, a large crowd collected at the station to barrack, “death to the murderers, death to the murderers”, and a few made an unsuccessful attempt to break through the line of police and carabineers to lynch the pair.

Without exception, the British and American observers in Monaco’s Palais de Justice were astounded by the theatrical feel to the murder trial in December 1907, with the sneering, laughter and heckles from the galleries. An animated prosecutor was said to have mounted “a passion of abuse”, and doctors testified that Vere was “a moral idiot and a degenerate”, whose ability to reason and make judgements had been weakened by his addictions to alcohol and opium.

For much of Marie’s adult life, she had been a criminal: there was little doubt that she had been an occasional thief and con-woman, and perhaps she had even killed, as there was some suspicion surrounding the death of her first two husbands. Throughout the trial, Marie veered between bravado and self-pity when she shrieked, howled, sobbed and threatened to faint. It was her husband’s fault, it was the whisky’s fault. Vere and Marie were found guilty. Vere was sentenced to ‘penal servitude for life’; his wife was condemned to death, with a judge telling her: “You deserve two death sentences.”

At the time they stood trial, it was extremely rare for a woman to receive a heavier punishment than her male accomplice. The fact that Marie was sentenced to death, and Vere was not, indicated the strength of the court’s feelings towards her. It was the right of the condemned to choose where they were to die, and Marie horrified Le Beau Monde when she said that she wanted to be executed in Place du Casino.

Yet, the Monegasque government did not have a guillotine or an executioner, and neither did they have the inclination to put on such a horrendous spectacle. Marie’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and she was transferred to a French prison, where she died in 1914 from typhoid.

Vere had been put on a boat to Ile du Diable, the ‘Devil’s Island’ penal colony off the coast of French Guiana, where he continued to lose his sanity. According to a reporter for ‘Paris Matin’, who met Vere on the island, the former tennis player had become “a mere wreck, who takes solitary walks along the banks of the River Maroni, where for hours together he recites the memorials that he drew up for his defence, while the crocodiles doze in the water”. Deprived of whisky and opium, and feeling great remorse, Vere Goold committed suicide on the eighth of September 1909. He was 55.


The Irish murderer of Monte Carlo

The gruesome discovery of a dismembered woman in a trunk is the subject of a new book, Murder in Monte Carlo, writes Donal Lynch

January 1, 2012

MONTE CARLO, was once described as a sunny place for shady people. In the early 20th Century, this pocket-sized principality became one of the most popular and decadent playgrounds in the Mediterranean, a heady ferment of louche grifters, loose women and fallen aristocracy. Dostoyevsky wrote his story The Gambler based on his betting disasters in the city, in which he lost all of his royalties on future works. He and other roulette casualties helped line Monte Carlos's public coffers to the point where it no longer needed to tax its citizens (a situation which still exists today).

Not surprisingly, then, the casino, a shimmering whitewashed palace set in elegant gardens, was the principality's de facto church and its town hall. Inside, behind fringed curtains and in the sultry glow of green lamps, the rituals at the table were as solemn and serious as any mass. Instead of incense the air swam with cheap perfume and crackled with tension -- Monte Carlo's ragged "suicide graveyard" provided a constant reminder of just what was at stake for some. Outside on the terrace the express train from Bologna to Cannes could be heard bringing flowers from the Cote Azur. And in the distance the indigo Italian hills provided a horizon of serenity.

In the early 1900s there cannot have been too many Irishmen with the means of stumbling into this Gatsby-esque vision. Dublin's status as the Second City in the Empire was waning and the public finances were in disarray. Vere St Leger Goold was no ordinary Irishman, however. As detailed in Michael Sheridan's new book, Murder in Monte Carlo, and in Love All, a play held last summer at the Clonmel Junction Festival, Goold was a member, albeit a slightly dubious one, of the Anglo-Irish gentry.

The fifth son of a magistrate in Co Waterford, his grandfather was a baronet and his grandmother was a daughter of the Earl of Kenmare. According to an Irish Times cutting from the time, he settled in Dublin and was appointed secretary of the Municipal Boundaries Commission of Inquiry into the Land Act and he additionally received, he said, an income of £400 a year from the Earl of Cork. He would later preface his name with "sir" -- a title more properly due to his still-living brother -- on the grounds that his acquaintances were clamouring to befriend someone who sounded like he might be a knight.

If Goold's breeding was somewhat less than true blue, he was, nevertheless, a colourful member of the Anglo-Irish social scene in Dublin in the early part of the 1900s. Much of this stemmed from his skill at the newly popular game of tennis. As a pastime for the upper middle classes, it was perfect -- expensive enough to keep it out of the reach of riff-raff, yet not so expensive as, say, polo, which all but the very wealthiest found prohibitive. It was genteel and vigorous, "yet without the temptation for injurious over exertion" according to a contemporaneous press report. And as a sport it was enjoying a boom across mainland Europe and England. In 1877 Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis club was founded -- British military got a discount on membership -- and two years later players came from different parts of the country to stay in the Georgian mansions and hotels around South Dublin for the inaugural Irish Championships.

The atmosphere around the competition was more akin to a race meeting than a modern tennis tournament. Displaying a raw athleticism, Goold dominated the competition that year and became such a star at Fitzwilliam that the "yellow" in the club's crest was said to be "gold" (a play on his name). Goold's chiselled good looks and blonde hair made him something of a heartthrob. He was therefore gustily cheered on when he travelled to England in 1879 to take part at Wimbledon, where his "showy and attractive" style took him all the way to the final. There he was defeated by the Reverend John Hartley, who later described Goold as "a wild and cheery Irishman".

Just how wild would be seen in Monte Carlo later, but in that moment in London the description was believed to refer to the roaring hangover which impeded Goold in his quest for sporting immortality. Further outbreaks of overindulgence stunted a budding rivalry with one of the original tennis legends, Willie Renshaw, and by 1883 booze and drugs had caused Goold to hang up his racquets for good.

He moved to London, where a local journalist would later write of him: "Those who knew him described him as a man of perfect breeding and of courtly, charming manner, cultured and generous. He was wont when coming home late from the club or the theatre to collect stray cats and to bring them to share his supper."

He married a French dressmaker, Marie Giraudin, who, according to the London Times, had wed a man against her parents' wishes but then left him and fled to England. There she met and married a captain in the English army -- her first husband having died in the meantime -- but was made a widow for a second time when the captain died and, sinking into penury, she was forced to sell her jewels. It was around this time, in London, that she met Goold. After marrying, the couple were reported to have taken a large and furnished house in London's West End where they held lavish parties and "lived extravagantly".

Early in 1902 the pair ran into serious financial problems. They fell into arrears on the rent and when the landlord called to the house he found it had been cleaned out, but not in a good way -- the furniture had been sold.

From London, the Goolds fled to Canada, where Marie resumed her business in Montreal. The shop prospered but the profits were squandered on gambling -- a foreshadow of the troubles to come -- and on poor investments. They then shuttled between Montreal and Liverpool -- where Goold set up a laundry business. By then, the couple had re-invented themselves as "Sir Vere and Lady Goold".

Vere, meanwhile, plotted a scheme to break the bank of the casino in Monte Carlo. It had been done only a very few times in the past -- once by an English actress who was said to have entranced Oscar Wilde -- and Goold was determined that he would turn his fortunes around. A friend had advised him of a secret system of winning, which, he said, was "infallible".

Upon arriving in the sunny centre of sin, they rented for £100 the fourth floor of a well-known local villa.

According to the Irish Times, "They mixed with the best society and were frequently seen at the tables in the casino." Goold himself was "quiet, unassuming and soft spoken" while his wife was invariably depicted as a domineering battleaxe. They were "on visiting terms with people of note in the resort and were always well dressed and paid their bills regularly". Their niece, Isabelle, who stayed with them, was "one of the belles of the season" and had English doctors pursuing her across ballrooms.

Behind the scenes, however, things had begun to unravel. Although Vere himself would later deny this, the Goolds were running out of money and by midsummer their respectability was increasingly threadbare.

Their solution to these problems was to befriend a rich Danish dowager by the name of Emma Levin, whose Swedish merchant husband had left her a fortune. She was, in Michael Sheridan's words, "one who revelled in the atmosphere of Monte Carlo, the lure of the roulette wheel and the fun of attracting men from 18 to 80 -- anyone who could remove the money from her account or the jewels from her back". According to one newspaper report, the Goolds appeared "anxious to cultivate her". Their plan worked and Levin, who had a reputation in Monte Carlo for being profligate with her money, reportedly lent the couple 1,000 francs.

The Goolds were jealous of anyone else sucking Ms Levin's blood, however, and got into a public dispute with one of her other hangers-on. This seems to have soured the relationship and apparently prompted Levin to leave Monte Carlo. But before doing so she visited the Goold's villa, at their invitation, in an attempt to get the money owed her. Late in the afternoon a neighbour heard a woman scream, "leave me alone" but didn't pay any attention, assuming that it was a domestic quarrel. Isabelle, it was later learned, had been sent out that very morning, with strict instructions not to return until evening. When she did arrive back she noticed the box room in the apartment was locked and was told its contents were none of her business.

It would be some days before a porter at Marseillaise Railway station noticed a sinister ooze of what looked like blood coming from a trunk, which had just been left by a rich-looking English couple who had left it with instructions for it to be forwarded to London, while they went for breakfast in a local hotel. The porter chased after the couple and by the time he had caught up with them they were on their way back to the railway station. They talked airily of freshly slaughtered chickens. He insisted on travelling with them by car and when the woman haughtily offered him money to go away it only made him more suspicious. He called the police.

What they found would eventually make headlines all around the world and lead to one of the biggest continental scandals in the first decade of the century; a woman's torso, with the head and lower parts of the legs severed and missing. The intestines had been removed -- it would later be speculated that this had been done to prevent putrefaction.

The sight nauseated the investigating officer but it was merely a prelude to the horror to come: for inside Vere St Leger Goold's bag were the missing pieces of the corpse -- her severed, bloodied head and her legs.

The Goolds were promptly arrested and clapped in separate prison cells. Vere was heard to morosely remark that he regretted that he hadn't already committed suicide. He would later write incomprehensible notes to Isabelle, who now had to make her way in life alone, her marriageability tainted by association.

News of the crimes spread like cholera across Europe -- there were frequent reports in the Irish Times -- and to the United States.

The feverish press interest brought a world of pressure on the investigating police force. "The Monte Carlo Trunk Murder", as it became known, provided fresh morsels of intrigue on an almost daily basis. When interrogated, the Goolds seem to first have claimed that a man named Burker (or possibly Barker) had killed Ms Levin in their suite while they were absent, and they had merely dismembered her body to prevent a scandal taking place in their temporary home.

Their accounts didn't match, however. The French police decided to let the prisoners stew or "cook" for a few more days. Vere was by then suffering from "profound depression" and had attacked a guard, while his wife had come under intensified suspicion as it was noticed that she had bruises on her arms and legs -- possibly caused in a physical struggle.

Worn down by inquisition, Vere now seemed prepared to take the blame. He confessed that Emma Levin had visited the suite to borrow money from him and, when he refused, they had a bitter argument and, addled by drink and rage, he stabbed her.

Marie, who was thought to keep both her husband and niece on the shortest of leashes, said that she had witnessed part of this altercation but " ... naturally I thought it better to leave them alone while they discussed the transaction. Suddenly I heard piercing cries and the sounds of a struggle". When she had returned to the room she said she fainted but quickly recovered consciousness and came up with the idea that the body should be cut up. Vere was too drunk to do any such thing so they dumped their dead widow in the bath until the next morning at which point he took a saw to the dowager's neck and limbs.

The court, however, was convinced that Vere was henpecked to the point that he hardly did something as bold as murder someone without Marie's express say-so. The magistrate screamed at her to "confess your crime". She went into hysterics and the Goolds were hauled from the court to a chorus of cries of "lynch them, lynch them" from the mob gathered outside.

Professor Lacassagne, a criminal profiler hired by the state, gave evidence which shed some more light on Vere St Leger Goold's flawed character. He dissected the Anglo-Irish aspects of the Goold family history and saw the collaboration with the British as a kind of betrayal. Goold's mother, he pointed out, had died when was only 17, meaning he was without a maternal presence at a crucial point in his life and his father passed away in 1879 -- the year of his promising Wimbledon showing.

He showed the court two photographs -- one taken during the Irish championships and the other from Wimbledon. In the first Goold appeared alert, handsome and determined, in the second he was hollow-eyed and bereft, a ghost at the foggy scene of his famous defeat. He said it was the turning point at which Goold threw away his life and abandoned skill for chance. Lacassagne saw him as a sort of "murderer as victim".

The trial, when it came, was mercifully brief. The headline in the Daily Globe, a New York newspaper, screamed of "Lady MacBeth Reborn". And indeed the court did see Madame Goold as the more guilty party, the instigator and controller of her husband. The advocate general, one local paper reported, seemed to view Goold with "contemptuous pity, as a drink and drug- debauched creature".

The court ruled that Marie was to pay for Ms Levin's head with her own: she would face the guillotine. Goold, due to his drunkenness, would merely be sent away for a lifetime of backbreaking labour. The verdicts were met with rapturous applause. The crowd had watched this tawdry piece of pulp fiction brought to life before their eyes; for closure's sake they needed to see the blood flow.

But in the end they were to be disappointed. By January 1908 both of the Goolds were in the midst of ultimately unsuccessful appeals.

However, a month later Marie's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. She was sent to Montpellier Prison while her hapless husband was eventually put on a convict ship bound for the hell-on-earth of French Guiana, a fate probably not mitigated by the thought that he was bound to make an interesting footnote in tennis history.

He died by his own hand on September 8 1909 -- a telegram to Paris confirmed the fact. Marie, as could be expected, was a little more resilient and it was 1914 before she succumbed to typhoid fever and passed away in Montpellier Prison.

The world, meanwhile, was left to get on with the dismal business of the 20th Century. Casting a rueful backward glance over the breathless reporting of the period around the trial the New York Times expressed a hope that one day there would be a novel, a fiction, that lived up to the sensational facts that a newspaper could now serve up, the Goold case, by implication, being almost beyond the imagination.

Only a yellowing photograph of a tennis player, glum in his whites, provided proof that they had not dreamt the whole thing up. There would be more Irish champions for sure, and many of them eclipsed Vere St Leger Goold in terms of pure achievement. But as one Fitzwilliam wag noted, not one of them had quite his killer instinct.

'Murder in Monte Carlo by Michael Sheridan is published by Poolbeg, €12.99.



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