Camille-Joseph van Laethem
Occupation Labourer
Born (1901-12-23)December 23, 1901

November 4, 1953(1953-11-04) (aged 51)
Thy-le-Chateau, Belgium

Cause of death Suicide
Attack information
Date November 4, 1953
7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Location(s) Thy-le-Chateau, Belgium
Target(s) Neighbours
Killed 6
Weapon(s) Revolver

Camille-Joseph van Laethem was a Belgian unemployed labourer who killed six people in Thy-le-Chateau, a village in Walcourt, Belgium on November 4, 1953, before committing suicide.[1][2][3]


Laethem, who was nicknamed "Canada" by the other villagers, was born on December 23, 1901. He was known in Thy-le-Chateau as a violent troublemaker who constantly quarreled with others, and more than once police was informed about his behaviour, but without any consequences.

He worked as a labourer, but at the time of the murders lived on a disability pension and an unregistered trading business. When his pension was reduced due to his additional income he accused his neighbours of having informed the authorities about it. In retaliation he sprayed tar on the tobacco plants in the garden of his neighbour Aimable Walbrecht and later on threw a bucket full into his cellar. It was also reported that he sought revenge for a dispute he had with his neighbours about some pigeons.[4][5][6][7][8]


The exact sequence of events on the evening of November 4, 1953 is not known, but it was reported that probably between 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. van Laethem armed himself with a revolver and a knife and entered the homes of his neighbours in the hamlet Versailles and killed their occupants by shooting the men in the head and stabbing the women in the neck.

In this way he killed Aimable Walbrecht and critically injured his wife, and also shot dead Oscar Brousmiche in his kitchen and gravely wounded his wife Emilie. His last victims were apparently Charles van der Beeken and his wife Leonie, who were killed while playing cards. There van Laethem left his knife thrust in the back of Mrs. van der Beeken.

After the murders he went to a granary, locked himself in and committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth. The crime was not discovered until the following morning when relatives of the victims found the bodies. Van Laethem himself was later found dead by police. The two wounded women were taken to hospital, where both of them died shortly therafter.[4][5][6][9][10][11]


  • Oscar Brousmiche
  • Emilie Brousmiche
  • Charles van der Beeken, 70
  • Leonie van der Beeken
  • Aimable Walbrecht, 53
  • Walbrecht's wife


Further readingEdit

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