From Poisoning to Poison Pen: The Josacine Affair

Sep 12, 2009 - by Anthony Davis - 0 Comments

June 1, 2009

Emilie Tanay

Emilie Tanay

by Anthony Davis

Saturday, June 11, 1994 was to have been a foretaste of the summer vacation for the children of Gruchet-le-Valasse, a small town (pop. 2,700) in Normandy. Their school was organizing its traditional end-of-term fete and 9-year-old Emilie Tanay was spending the weekend at the house of one of her classmates, Jérome Tocqueville.

Emilie was an only child. Her parents, Denis and Corinne Tanay, had been invited to a christening but, not wishing to deprive their daughter of the pleasure of dressing up for the fete, they gladly accepted the Tocquevilles’ offer to look after her. It was to be the first time she had ever spent the night away from her parents.

Emilie had been suffering from a cold for a couple of days and her mother sent her to the Tocquevilles with a bottle of Josacine ready prepared , but she was not going to let a mere cold spoil her fun.  Dressed like the other merry-makers, both young and old, in medieval costume, she spent a happy afternoon with her schoolmates.

On returning to her friend’s home that evening she felt unwell and Jérome’s mother, Sylvie Tocqueville, gave her a spoonful of the prescriptionmedicine. Emilie pulled a face on taking the dose and rinsed out her mouth with water to get rid of the unusually horrid taste.

Within minutes Emilie collapsed. The Tocquevilles immediately summoned medical help. Although she was rushed to hospital, she died at 10:30 p.m. the same evening. The doctors were unable to determine the cause of death.

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