The day Alice de Janzé shot her lover.
It was March 25th, 1927 and Alice had a date to meet her lover, Raymund de Trafford for lunch in Paris. Actually it would be more accurate to describe him as her ex-lover.
This meeting, at the Maison Lapérouse restaurant overlooking the River Seine ended at the Gare du Nord, with a detour to Monsieur Guinon’s gun shop on the Avenue de l’Opera.
When they arrived at the station, Alice took a small pistol from her handbag, shot her lover Raymund and then turned the gun on herself. Why?
Alice, the Comtesse de Janzé
Alice Silverthorne, an heiress, was born in America in 1899. She married Frederic, the Count of Janze and moved to his homeland, France. As far as he was concerned, it was a love match – for Alice not quite as much. Four years after their marriage, they met another couple, Idina Sackville and her husband, Joss Hay (Lord Errol), who invited them to visit them in East Africa. This time Alice did fall in love, with both Africa and Joss Hay.
Soon the de Janze couple too moved to East Africa where Alice embarked upon an affair with the womanising Joss. Joss, a British earl, was well-known for his ability to ‘awaken’ women to the joys of sex. Alice most probably was a beneficiary of his skills.
But Alice soon started having an affair with the English nobleman, Raymund de Trafford – another East African expat.
But Raymund rejected Alice
Alice wanted desperately to marry him. Her marriage to Frederic was over. She left him and she and Raymund agreed that they would marry when she was free. But later Raymund told her that his family would object. He was supported by them financially and they wouldn’t countenance him marrying her. In addition, they were a strict Catholic family and we totally opposed to him marrying a woman who had a husband still living, even if she did manage to obtain a divorce. He told her this in Paris and said that he was returning to England the next day.
She agreed to meet him for the tragic farewell lunch.
She was looking after a friend’s dog at the time – Alice was an avid animal lover – and decided to take the Alsation with her. She took time to dress and groom herself well – if this was to be the last time her lover saw her, she wanted to look her best.
Over a lunch of champagne, foie gras and salmon, Alice appeared to be light hearted. When the meal was over, they shopped. The fact that they visited the gun shop wasn’t unusual. Alice said that she was running an errand for Frederic – perfectly normal as they lived in Africa. They proceeded to the Gare du Nord where de Trafford was catching to boat train to return to England.
When they arrived at the station, Alice visited the ladies’ room. She took her newly-purchased gun from its wrapping, loaded it,placed it carefully in her handbag and went to say goodbye to her ex-lover who was boarding the train. She later said that it was her sole intention to shoot herself. But when she entered the carriage, she flung her arm around de Trafford’s neck to give him a farewell kiss and, as she pulled him close, shot him in the chest at point blank range. She then turned the gun on herself.
Neither Raymund or Alice remembered the chaos that was to follow. Railway officials tried to get to them but were thwarted by the Alsation dog which was growling ferociously and wouldn’t let anyone near the injured couple. Someone had to throw a rock at the animal to make it back off.
Alice and Raymund were taken to the conveniently close Larisboisiére Hospital. At first it was thought that neither would survive and the shooting was widely reported by newspapers in France, Britain and the United States.
The bullet had missed de Trafford’s heart by a fraction of an inch but he was still seriously injured. Alice was less so, but soon had charges pressed against her for attempted murder. And as her lover’s life hovered on the brink, she was aware that this could become actual murder. She was in hospital foe six weeks and then transferred to the hospital ward of Saint-Lazare prison. It was nine months later that she appeared in court charged with attempted murder – de Trafford had survived the shooting.
The court decided that hers had been a crime passionnel and she received a six month suspended sentence.
The story gets even stranger
Alice managed to get not only a divorce from Frederic, the marriage was also annulled by the Pope. This was remarkable to say the least as the most usual reason for annulment was and is a marriage that hasn’t been consummated. And yet Frederic and Alice had two daughters. (It has been suggested that the then-Pope had his decision made easier by a large sum of cash).
She was still very much focused to de Trafford however, and began to visit him in England on a regular basis. Despite the fact that she had tried to kill him, gradually their affair was rekindled. Alice bought a home in London to be near him. Alice was determined. Four years after the shooting, during which time she pursued him with vigour, Raymund de Trafford and Alice de Janze announced their engagement.
His family now found her more acceptable, thanks to her marriage being annulled and on February 22, 1932, the couple were married in Paris.
The arguments started on their honeymoon. Alice loved Africa and wanted to return there as soon as possible but Raymund was not the type of man who let his wife make the decisions. By April, Alice decided to travel with her sister-in-law to Slovakia. Raymund remained in London.
When she returned, she and Raymund met for lunch at a sidewalk café in Paris. But this was no romantic reunion. They had a noisy, public argument. Onlookers watched as Raymund picked up his champagne cocktail – garnished with a glacé cheery – and flung it in Alice’s face. Alice, with her face dripping with champagne and with the cherry dangling from the short veil of her chic hat reached for her handbag……..
Raymund, imagining that history was repeating itself, rushed away from the scene. But Alice was merely reaching into her bag for her compact.
Alice had endured enough. She contacted her lawyers and instructed them to arrange a legal separation, Further, she told them to buy a one way ticket for Raymund and furnish him with enough money to live their for some considerable time. Raymund took the money and did as he was told.
Joss Hay, Lord Errol
Alice returned to her beloved Africa. And to her beloved Joss. Their affair, which had begun so may years previously, was now back on the cards. But Joss was known for his womanising. By 1941 he was embroiled in an affair with the young wife of another ex-pat British aristocrat.
In the early hours of 24th January, 1941, Joss was found in his car on a deserted road with a bullet through his head. There was no doubt that he had been murdered. Especially in view of her past, Alice was a suspect but she had an alibi – albeit a rather shaky one.
The cuckolded husband of Joss’ current mistress was charged with the murder but released and there were many people who believed that Alice was the true murderer.
On September 27th that same year, Alice wrote five letters. She decorated her bedroom with flowers from her lush gardens. She took a huge dose of Nembutal and pointed a revolver at her heart. When the drugs started to take effect she pulled the trigger.
Alice de Janze died aged forty two.