A Frenchwoman dubbed the “Black Widow of the Riviera” for allegedly poisoning four wealthy suitors, two fatally, went on trial for murder Monday.
Patricia Dagorn, 57, is charged in the deaths of two elderly men whose remains were discovered in the Cote d’Azur in 2011 — after, prosecutors say, she seduced and then slowly poisoned the pair while stealing their fortunes.
“She would be full of empathy for these men, would gain their confidence, siphon off their money and end up by working out how to make them disappear,” prosecutor Jean-Michel Prêtre said, describing Dagorn as a “manipulator and seductress.”
The purported serial poisoner met her targets through dating websites, where she zeroed in on rich, older men and then convinced them to either cut her checks or write her into their wills, prosecutors said. She may have seduced as many as 20 men since arriving in the French Riviera in 2011, according to local police.
Dagorn — who appeared disheveled in a Nice courtroom Monday, sporting an oversize black and white tracksuit — is already serving a five-year sentence following her conviction on charges of fraud, theft and sequestration for swindling an octogenarian in the French Alps in 2012.
Authorities said the seductress had been living in a hotel with Michel Kneffel, a man in his 60s, before his body was discovered lying in a pool of blood in July 2011.
She dodged charges until 2015, after a long-running investigation by French police found vials of Valium and personal documents belonging to some dozen men among her things.
They then tied Dagorn to the unsolved murder of Francesco Filippone, 85, whose badly decomposed remains were found in a bathtub in Mouans-Sartoux, outside Cannes, in February 2011.
She had earlier cashed a $25,600 check from the dead man — which she claimed was a gift meant to help her open a jewelry store.
Widower Robert Vaux, who survived an alleged poisoning attempt at the hands of the femme fatale, is expected to take the stand against her later this week.
“She was like a ray of sunshine in winter. When you are with a younger woman, you know it won’t last but you don’t deny yourself the moment unless you’re a masochist,” Vaux, 91, said outside court.
The former sailor said he brought Dagorn to live with him in the coastal town of Frejus, and quickly saw his health begin to deteriorate.
Vaux and 82-year-old Ange Pisciotta, who also alleges he was poisoned by Dagorn, are also pursuing a civil case against their former lover.
“She denies the charges against her in their entirety, including the thefts,” one of her lawyers, Georges Rimondi, told reporters Monday.
Dagorn’s own son has painted her as a gold-digger, and said he wasn’t at all surprised by the accusations leveled against his mother.
“She has always been obsessed with quick and easy money,” the son, identified only as Guilhem, told local newspaper the Nice Matin in 2013.
Dagorn faces life behind bars if convicted.