NICE, France—Robert Vaux, 91, his mint-green trench coat folded neatly beside him, listened avidly to more than six hours of testimony Monday during the first day of the murder trial of the “Black Widow of the Riviera”—an alleged serial killer who would appear to have major daddy issues.
Police believe either her father or foster father was named Robert. So, too, were many of her alleged victims, and not everyone thinks it was a coincidence.
Directly across the courtroom at the Palais de Justice, seated behind a glass partition in what the French call “the box,” was the woman Vaux says seduced him into falling in love with her and then poisoned him with Valium in an effort to take all his money and property.
“Manipulatrice!” Vaux hissed to The Daily Beast during a courtroom break. “I might have been dead because of her but I’m not. I’m alive. I’m the winner. I won.”
Patricia Dagorn, 57, charged with fatally poisoning two older men on the Côte d’Azur as well as conning and drugging Vaux and another elderly widower, hardly looked like a femme fatale. But according to Vaux, whose testimony this week is expected to pack the courtroom in Nice’s Old Town, she was.
“She was like a ray of sunshine in winter,” he told reporters before the trial started. “When you are with a younger woman, you know it won’t last but you’d be a masochist to deny yourself the moment.”