In the official victims list I use, you can find 16 cases when the head was detached from the body. Among these cases, you can see two sections: that of words involving an animal and that of words involving man. There are 8 cases for each section. All the people who wrote the documents in which we find those description were all certainly good latinists: ii is unthinkable that they could have misused a word. They used accurate words (the amount of words in french vocabulary allowed them to choose a very specific word to use depending on what they saw). If they made the difference between "head cut" - ou "choped" - and "head torn out" or even "head/neck gnawed", shouldn't we too?
So by basing on the meaning of words, one could conclude that the Beast - or other wild animals - have separated the head of their victims at least 8 times, gnawing the muscles of the neck or simply by moving the corpse (held by the neck), but we can surely say that man was involved at least 8 beheadings (fight, raped and murder). Of course, that does not mean all the killing is due to man, but the study of semantics in the writtings about the Beast is an element that has never been used so far and which can, I'm sure of it, help us understand the case in its globality. So there are no real mysteries around these beheadings, if not the proof of human involvment.
Above, a table of the sixteen victims (hover your cursor over the names of villages to have the name of the parish - Does not work with Internet Explorer) :
|15-10-1764||Contrendès||A boy||10||no||[...]head cut off and lungs eaten[...]||Newspaper|
|22-10-1764||Grazières||Margueritte Malige||19||no||[...]the trunk of her body separated from the head which was not found[...]||Report, Letter|
|25-1-1764||Buffeyrettes||Catherine Vally||60||no||[...]it gnaws her neck to the shoulders and leaves with the head[...]||Act, Letter|
|15-12-1764||Bois de Balsie||Catherine Chastang||45||no||[...]head torn out and found 100 meters from the body[...]||Act, Letter|
|20-12-1764||Le Puech||A girl||12||no||[...]it gnaws her neck to the shoulders and leaves with the head[...]||Letters, report|
|22-01-1765||La Bisade||Jeanne Tannavelle||35||no||[...]the Beast cuts off her head and brings it 200 meters from her body[...]||Act, Letter|
|09-02-1765||Valat-Chirac||Marie-Jeanne Rousset||12||no||[...]eats the chest and decapitate her. A peasant sees the Beast carrying the head into a wood[...]||Letters, report|
|28-02-1765||Chabriès||A girl||5-8||no||[...]only legs and head were found[...]||Letters, report|
|08-03-1765||Le Fayet||André Boussugue||9||no||[...]cuts off the head of its victim, eats an arm and the chest[...]||Letters, report|
|09-03-1765||Le Ligonès||Agnès Gastal||25||no||[...]decapitates her and takes the head[...]||Letters|
|07-04-1765||La Clauze||Gabriele Pélicier||17||no||[...]...devoured, the rest of the body is found in a slough[...]||Act, Letters|
|19-05-1765||Servillanges||Wife Barlier||45||no||[...]head cut off and brought so far it was not found, a shoulder missing, an arm and the top of the chest gnawed[...]||Letters|
|24-05-1765||le Mazel-la-Fage||Marie Valès||13||Yes, her brother||[...]the neck and a part of the thighs devoured[...]||Letters|
|21-06-1765||Sauzet||A boy||12||no||[...]...cut and took the head[...]||Letters|
|21-06-1765||Pépinet||A woman||50||no||[...]...cut off the head and took an arm[...]||Letters|
|21-12-1765||Marcilhac||Agnès Mourgue||12||no||[...]cut off her head, which she brought 6 meters from the body, of whoch she ate the neck, shoulders, chest and the calf of a leg[...]||Report|
Before we go any further, let me clarify something: some of you may have heard that "wild animals do not cut off the head of their prey.".
That's true. That is not what they do: they catch the neck of their prey between their jaws (most vulnerable point because strategic for nervous system).
By cutting the jugular, the animal is sure that the prey will die in the minutes to come. If the prey struggles, which is more than likely - unless
the neck is broken by the violence of the attack -, the animal will shake the prey.
The neck is the same for every living being on earth, one of the most fragile parts considering it's just vertebras put one onto the other, held together by two or three centimeters of muscles. Once the muscles are cut, what holds the head ? It can fall by itself while the animal moves the body to some safer place. I didn't make that up, any veterinary or doctor could explain it as well.
Of course, I've heard like everyone else people defenidng the sadist theory in documentaries, saying that "scientists all agree, a wolf (or a dog because it comes from the first) is not able to cut off a human's head". Well they do all agree, but to say it can!
Now let's study this table, shall we? I've put on purpose the details each time we had them, but there are many documents from which they come. Deaths reports often don't mention anyhing about the circumstances of death except the usual "devoured bu the ferocious beast" and all its forms, so we have no other choice but to use the official letters from that time, which are from Lafont, Duhamel, D'Enneval, Antoine, the nobles of Gévaudan etc... And we've plenty of them! But the problem is that the term used to describe the beheading changes with every different point of view. If the story is written by the abbot who takes care of the victim, the abbot can add some "dabolical wonderful" in his story in which he didn't act (usually he wasn't even around), but he will write it so that local nobles will have compassion and will be generous with the victim. It will word a few times though. Jeanne Jouve will get two hundred pounds gratification for her fight thanks to this method (pretty few when you know she lost one of her children in her fight). If the story is written by an official hunter, he will probably try to rationnalize the event. The "missing heads" were never suspicious for the hunters, where ever they came from.
But it's easy to notice that many times the Beast leaves the head after having eaten all the fat parts(cheeks, ears, chin fat, etc....),
so "good bye" the theory of a sadist who would have collected the head of his victims.
But to know exactly how words were used in this time could help us a lot. The only people in FRance who is supposed to know all about this is Jean-Marc Moriceau.
I've sent him many e-mails ; tried to join him a thousand times on the phone, but never got him.
However, I had the chance to meet him when I went to Langogne for its "first Festival of the Beast of Gévaudan" in september 2012. I had the luck to eat at the same table just in front of him so I asked him about the beheadings and the point that there could be a doubt wheter it was an animal or a man that did it. He told me here was no mystery at all and that I just needed to take a look at the words used on the documents. For him, no document ever talks about anything else than an animal.
Let's conlcude like this:
Among sixteen beheadings, if you study the semantics, you can blame man for 8 cases, the 8 others to be blamed on an animal. This does not mean the sadist theory rises again, this only proves what I already suspected: many independant events were add to the story of a single animal, therefore making the Beast a monstruous animal able to do whatever people thought it could do. Concerning the rest of the attacks, there are witnesses in almost 62% of the cases, one can not doubt of the animal nature of the murderer.
But I can be wrong...