Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Mystery of Jacques Millere

Next to true crime, I'm a big fan of unsolved mysteries, mainly unusual deaths and unexplained disappearances. One such case that I recently discovered in a book about Newfoundland criminal history was the 101 year old mystery surrounding the death of a Frenchman named Jacques Millere.

Shortly after 4:00 p.m. on March 15, 1909, one Frank Penney came across the cooling corpse of a man on the grounds of a pulp and lumber company near Deer Lake, Newfoundland. He notified the police, who searched the body and found some startling documents crammed in the pockets: astronomical drawings, sketches of aircraft designs, planet descriptions, and an eye-opening treatise on the relationship between man and the planets. What aroused the most comment, however, was a post office receipt issued to one 'Jacques R. Millere' at Summerside, Prince Edward Island, which indicated that Millere had recently sent a registered letter to the Duke of Orleans in Paris (pictured at top right).

The discovery of the body and its cache of extraordinary paperwork unleashed a maelstorm of speculation over to who Jacques Millere really was and what his connection to the Orl√©anist claimant to the throne of France might be. He was not from the Deer Lake area, so no one could enlighten the police on his antecedents. Some thought he might be a scientific genius or crackpot, while others figured that he was a royalist inventor offering to put his skills at the Duke's service.

The book that briefly outlines the case does not specify how Millere died, or give word-for-word examples of the writing found in his pockets. So to satisfy my own curiousity, I called in a favour owed by a retired Newfoundland police officer friend. He's going to see what can be done about retrieving the archived notes from the original police investigation, as well as copy the contemporary news reports.

When I know more, so will you.

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