1872: The Second Assassination

According to legend, in 1872 the Baron Rodemire de Tarazone, of France, was assassinated by a man named Claude Volbonne, which was a tragic blow to his family... for the second time, actually. You see, the Baron's own father had been assassinated 21 years eariler, also by a man named Claude Volbonne. The two assassins were not related, improbable though that sounds!

The Paper Trail

        It's a great story, repeated often; but it didn't happen. The primary proof of that is pretty simple... there is no mention in print of either the Baron Rodemire de Tarazone or his assassin Claude Volbonne previous to 1976, when the story was first presented in Ripley's Giant Believe It Or Not. The story was repeated in 1982 in Reader's Digest's Mysteries of the Universe, and it's from that volume that most modern repetitions of the tale come from.

        Now let's get one thing clear right now: I love Robert Ripley and his Believe It Or Not comic strip! He's one of the primary people to blame for my predilection with strange stories due to the fact his strip was still in print in local newspapers where my grandparents lived when I was an impressionable brat, and also due to my later finding out Ripley was born in and buried at Santa Rosa, a town just ten miles or so from where I grew up and live now. His collections of odd and often unbelievable facts was a large part of my eclectic childhood.

        HOWEVER, Ripley died in 1949. This is important because after his death those that took over management of his empire -- and it was an empire -- had a slightly different idea of what constituted 'facts' and what the strip and its books should offer. Where Ripley himself was fascinated with being able to present fantastic stories that he could claim (sometimes thinly) had been presented as true, the people who continued his work were perfectly willing to just make up stories that they figured would sell. So those are the guys I'm blaming this one on, since the first appearance of this story is near thirty years after Ripley's death!

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