"Dr. Satan"/Dr. Marcel Petiot: The Serial Killer Real-Life Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

By | November 28, 2020

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(Getty Images)

Few people embodied the duality of man quite like Dr. Marcel Petiot, the French doctor who spent World War II robbing and murdering Jewish people under the auspices of helping them escape from the Nazis. This real-life Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde spent his entire life deceiving people throughout Europe while making a small fortune.

Hardly A Model Soldier

It's hard to say if the young Marcel Petiot was evil from the moment he was born in 1897, but he never seemed to be all that good. He was a smart child but had behavioral problems in school. He was in an out of various primary schools as a child before finally finishing his studies in time to join the French army during World War I despite a previous charge of mail theft.

During the first World War, Petiot was hardly a model soldier. He was tried for stealing blankets issued by the military but found not guilty by reason of insanity before he was sent back to the front. It's not entirely clear what happened to Petiot after returning to battle, but he was discharged from the military for abnormal behavior, and while institutionalization was suggested, he was allowed to return to normal life.

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(Associated Press)

Your Obedient Servant

In 1921, Petiot established a medical practice in Villaneuve, quickly won over the locals, and became a much-beloved figure in the community even after he became a suspect in the disappearance of Louise Delaveau, his lover and the daughter of one of his patients, five years later. An informant claimed to have seen the doctor place a large trunk in his car around the time she went missing, but Delaveau's body was never found, and police never solidly linked Petoit to her disappearance.

After he was cleared, Petiot ran for mayor and succeeded by hiring locals to disrupt the town debate, flustering his opponent so much that the mad doctor looked like the only appropriate candidate. He was removed from the position after embezzling the town's money in 1931, but a year later, he wound up on the town's council. He had to be removed from that position after city officials discovered he was stealing electricity from the town to power his home.