Since the aim of this article is to give Gilles a fair hearing, remember that the following three sections are allegations. The first few murders took place in 1433 at his childhood home of ChamptocÃ©, but the bulk of Gilles’s murders were committed at Machecoul. The first documented case saw a local boy told to carry a message to Gilles’s castle, never to return. Other murders followed the pattern of children entering Machecoul and never leaving. Sometimes they were sent on an errand, at others lured in with promises of food or diversion, and soon the number of missing local children was noticed.
Rumours circulated that they had been killed by Gilles. But it was not just at Machecoul that children were going missing. At Gilles’s other residences, such as Tiffauges, and places he merely visited, such as OrlÃ©ans, many children mysteriously disappeared. The children were mostly procured by Gilles’s cousins, Gilles de SillÃ© and Robert de Briqueville. They were killed, according to confessions at his trial, in a truly cruel and excruciating manner, and it is this detail that raises Gilles above other child serial-killers: they were dismembered, beheaded, had their throats slit, or their necks broken with a special sword.
Over his alleged career as a murderer, Gilles is estimated to have killed between 80 and 200 children. This begs the question: what did he do with the bodies? Some were burned in the great fireplaces of his castles, others apparently concealed in obscure parts of the castles, such as the boys allegedly found stuffed in a pipe at ChamptocÃ©. It is not revealed how he disposed of the corpses he wrought at places he was merely visiting, but later confessions revealed that the men were very adept at burning bodies discreetly to minimise the smoke and stench.