The Man Who Taunted Police and Vanished Forever.


Image of Arnold Waldner, a murderer who vanished forever.
Image of a murderer: Arnold Waldner.

DETECTIVE DUCHARBONNET of the Paris police turned with interest when the young man came into the room.

“Here is your morning’s mail, monsieur.”

“Merci, Henri.”

Detective Ducharbonnet took a leisurely venture through the pile of mail, separating it into stacks, depending on its importance. A personal letter fell out and drew his interest. He opened the envelope with a filigreed decorative blade made for such a jobs. He withdrew the one-page note. He noticed the slight scent of a fine perfume.

“I am still at large. You have not caught me yet,” the note said. It was signed, “Arnold Waldner.” Detective Ducharbonnet scowled.

Waldner!   You scoundrel! Just wait until I get my hands on you…

*     *     *

     A year passed. Henri, again, brought the day’s mail to Detective Ducharbonnet, as he did each morning.

“Merci, Henri,” Ducharbonnet thanked the young man.

Again, the dedicated detective sorted the mail into stacks as he did with each pile of mail Henri delivered to his desk. What’s this? Again, he found a letter, slightly scented with perfume. It had been a year since he had gotten such a letter. He opened it.

“I am still at large. You have not caught me.” It was signed, “Arnold Waldner.”

You scoundrel, Waldner! We will get you, yet. The detective shook his fist in the air at an imaginary fiend.

*     *     *

     Twenty-two more years came and went. The dedicated detective, Monsieur Ducharbonnet was still fit, but his hairline had receded. What considerable hair that remained was steel gray. He was expecting a letter in the mail any day. He always got a letter from Arnold Waldner about this time. It was the anniversary of a terrible double murder in Paris.

Twenty-five years earlier in 1879, Arnold Waldner had found himself getting frustrated with his work situation. No one knows much about Waldner’s past, but he had been a jack-of-all-trades, doing menial jobs to get by. He did weaving. He was a bell hop. He had done work as a barber.

He considered himself to be advanced in position when he got a new job as an assistant in an apothecary shop. He was twenty-two years of age. Although this job had a little more prestige than earlier means of employment, he still rankled at the low pay. He had an idea. He would steal bottles of fine perfume and re-sell them for a tidy personal profit. He was content to do this for awhile, but then he became greedy for even more money. With some type of bludgeon, he killed his employer and a shop girl. He hid the bodies in the cellar, while he ran the shop himself for awhile, pocketing all of the money he made.

After the bodies had sat for a few days and were giving themselves away, Waldner decided to go on the lam. When the police discovered the crime, they were hot on his trail. They were temporarily de-railed when they received a note. “I have committed suicide. Better that, than the terror of the guillotine.”

This strange note was a forgery and not written by Waldner at all, an awful red herring. As the Paris police pondered this fake note, Waldner was able to go deep into hiding. Arnold Waldner was about to send them many authentic notes. He wrote the Paris police for twenty-five years in a row, on the anniversary of his murderous deed. He thought his perfect crime was quite an achievement for someone so young, and he taunted the police with an annual note extolling his cleverness.

“I am still at large. You haven’t caught me.”   –Arnold Waldner

On the twenty-sixth year there was no note from Waldner. There was never a note from him again.   Arnold Waldner was never caught and what happened to him is still a mystery.

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