On a late-spring evening in the chic suburb of Saint-Maurice near Paris, Laurence Honoré, 44, slipped into a skin-tight black leather suit, donned a motorcycle helmet, and crept into the bushes on the property of the upscale villa she shared with her husband. Allegedly cradling a .22 revolver, she waited for him to come home.
According to a report in Le Nouvel Observateur, by the time Christian Honoré arrived at the house, it was after midnight. From the moment he pulled into the driveway on his scooter, the 43-year-old local politician sensed that something was off. For starters, his wife’s car was not in its usual spot in the garage, but was parked a couple hundred feet away on the street. But it was the dark, silent house that was the most unsettling. None of the couple’s four children were anywhere to be seen, and his wife had also vanished.
Maybe she was off sulking somewhere, he thought. Their marriage had allegedly been on the rocks for several months and the subject of divorce had been broached numerous times. It wasn’t until he had cracked open the back door to take a look at the garden that he spotted a silhouette in the shadows. Honoré called the police, who arrived to discover Madame Honoré emerging from the bushes in a Catwoman-esque get-up and carrying a gun. Police arrested the mother of four on the spot for the alleged attempted murder of her husband.
“I never would have killed him,” the woman aptly called “Catwoman” in the French press reportedly told investigators, claiming that she only intended to scare her other half. “I had neither the courage, nor the desire.” In other instances, however, she has admitted to investigators and again in court on Tuesday to wanting to kill her spouse, only to have a change of heart at the last minute.
The true nature of Laurence Honoré’s motives when she stepped into her Catwoman attire and reached for the revolver are the focal point of a sensational trial—half domestic drama, half cloak-and-dagger—under way outside of Paris.
Before her midnight foray in the foliage five years ago, Honoré—whose name has since been changed to back to Vulsin now that the couple has (not surprisingly!) divorced—at first did not allegedly intend to act alone. According to investigators, Vulsin’s plot to bump off Christian Honoré was hatched sometime after he had lost a bid to become mayor of the nearby town of Valenton. From there, investigators say the couple’s marriage disintegrated into episodes of depression, allegations of physical abuse, and mutual infidelity.
Police say that’s when Vulsin decided to act. She allegedly approached a friend, Michel Gallière, a onetime police official and bodyguard of the French parliamentary president, for help hiring a hitman. (Gallière has denied all charged against him.) Vulsin told police that Gallière put her in touch with Jean-Noël Naturel, identified in French media reports as a former spy for the country’s intelligence service hilariously nicknamed “Santa Claus.” Vulsin allegedly met with the two men at a Paris café in May of 2011, where she presented them with a packet containing a photo of her husband, a schedule of his daily whereabouts, and €5,700 euros ($6,500) in cash.
However, investigators say Vulsin grew impatient and decided to carry out the deed herself. She asked Santa Claus to supply her with a firearm, which she allegedly paid for by selling some of her jewelry and two Hermès handbags. (Naturel has denied supplying her with a gun.) One month later, police say, Catwoman would lie in wait for her husband with Santa Claus’s gun. Both Gallière and Naturel were also arrested and are standing trial for criminal association and accessory to attempted murder.
Prior to her alleged descent into the French underworld, it seems as though Laurence Vulsin led a comfortable, albeit unremarkable life. On a personal blog titled “My Crazy Family,” she documented a ski vacation and a Sunday trip to Disneyland Paris. In a Christmas post from 2006, Vulsin looks cheerful and rosy-cheeked, sporting a red paper crown and grinning at the camera.
In the courtroom, however, she has been portrayed as either an emotionally fragile housewife who momentarily lost her way, or a manipulative, pathological liar, depending on which lawyer is doing the talking.
As she took the stand in the Paris suburb of Créteil on Tuesday, her basic biographical information was called into question, including whether she had received her baccalaureate degree and if she had actually attended law school for two years, as she had claimed.
“That is not what the documents say,” the judge countered. “Only the first year was completed.”
“Yes, but I repeated the same year twice,” Vulsin responded.
Even her tale of a cancer surgery was apparently fabricated.
“I had my husband believe that I was operated on because of a tumor, but it was really cosmetic surgery,” she told the court. “I wasn’t well in my head,” she added. “My husband was going off with prostitutes with large breasts.”
In a 2014 interview with French radio network RTL, Vulsin spoke frankly about the stress her arrest and subsequent incarceration has had on her family.
“I am filled with remorse and regret,” the pleasant-looking woman explained to the host. Her demeanor was calm and nonchalant—more like a middle-class mom discussing her kids’ school activities than someone due to stand trial for attempted murder. “But what is done is done, and now we must move forward.”
“I lost it,” she added, referring to her Catwoman caper.
The verdict is expected on May 11.