Poison, prison and police trouble – tales of cake based crimes

You may already think cakes are wicked (ugh, calories!), but some cakes are positively criminal. From revenge to greed, cakes have been involved in a host of untoward activities. Here are some of the most interesting stories that blend cake and crime…

Don’t eat that cake!
Our first tale of cake-related criminality takes us back in time to 1840, when Frenchwoman Marie Lafarge was on the prowl for a husband. Charles Lafarge wasn’t exactly what she’d had in mind – she considered him common and unappealing – but when he revealed he owned a palatial estate she jumped at the chance to tie the knot.
However, marital bliss was short lived. The estate was crumbling, and Charles’ family were peasants. Marie could barely hide her disappointment. But things seemed to turn a corner when Charles moved to Paris in a bid to make some money. Of course, Marie had made sure Charles had his estate in order before he made the trip to the French capital – he had left his entire estate to her. Marie sent him numerous love letters, pictures of herself and… a delicious looking Christmas cake.
Charles became violently ill, and had to return home, where his devoted wife nursed him day and night. Doctors diagnosed cholera, but the housekeepers and his relatives had other suspicions. Shortly after Charles died, Marie was caught red handed with a matchstick box of arsenic.
She was sentenced to life in prison, and the icing on the cake? Before his death, Charles had in fact produced a second will, leaving his entire estate to his mother.
Cake poisoning is far from a thing of the past. In 2008 a woman from Gloucestershire was handed a 12 month suspended sentence for lacing a cake with rat poison in a bid to reap revenge on her cheating, abusive husband of 30 years. The judge was lenient due to the years of torment she had suffered, and acknowledged she was “not a criminal in any shape or form.”

The great cake escape
It may seem like a well-worn trope in television or film, but some jammy inmates really have tried to use tools hidden in cakes to escape their incarceration.

One example is an inmate called F. J. Humely, who was jailed in America for forging a cheque in 1909. Rather than awaiting trial, he asked some of his cohorts on the outside to send him some goodies…

Two cakes arrived for Humely, one with white icing and one with chocolate. Luckily, Sheriff Hammel, who was on duty at the time, intercepted the cakes as he thought they were suspiciously heavy. Inside each cake he found half a 38-caliber revolver, and Humely’s escape plan was foiled.

Humely wasn’t the only criminal involved in a cake-based escape bid. In 1916, Eamon de Valera who was serving time for his role in the Easter Rising – an attempt by Irish militants to assert independence from the British government – successfully walked out of prison scot-free thanks to a carefully baked cake. De Valera managed to get his hands on the prison guard’s key, and made a mould of it using old wax from church candle wax. He sent the mould to his accomplices on the outside, who made a replica of the key, and returned it to him hidden deep inside an innocent looking cake. De Valera was able to pass through every gate in the prison and walk to his freedom.

Donut steal from the police
Just last year, an audacious thief swiped cream cakes from the fridge of Manchester’s elite police team at the headquarters of their Serious Crimes Unit. The culprit turned out to be a subcontractor who was arrested following the theft. Lucky for the hungry worker, the force decided not to press charges. Who can resist a cream cake, after all?!

Do you know any crimes involving cakes? We’d love to hear in the comments below…

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