A “warfare of specialists”: revisiting the notorious 19th century Flores Avenue poisonings

Two recovered and restored portraits of 19th century Portuguese physician Vicente Urbino de Freitas, suspected of poisoning several of his wife's family members in the "Crime of Flores Street"—Portugal's first major forensic case.

Enlarge / Two recovered and restored portraits of 19th century Portuguese doctor Vicente Urbino de Freitas, suspected of poisoning a number of of his spouse’s relations within the “Crime of Flores Avenue”—Portugal’s first main forensic case. (credit score: Ricardo Jorge Dinis-Oliveira, 2019)

On January 2, 1890, a Portuguese man named Jose Antonio Sampaio, Jr., died in horrible agony whereas staying on the Grand Resort de Paris in Porto, Portugal. The son of a rich and extremely revered linen service provider, Sampaio Jr. confirmed indicators of poisoning in his remaining hours, together with blood in his vomit. He was attended by his brother-in-law, a doctor named Vicente Urbino de Freitas.

Sampaio Jr. was nonetheless buried with out incident, and the household may need grieved their loss and moved on. However in late March, Sampaio Jr.’s son and two nieces instantly grew to become unwell after consuming almonds with liquor and coconut and chocolate desserts, which had arrived on the Sampaio home on Flores Avenue by way of a mysterious bundle. The kids’s uncle, the aforementioned de Freitas, prescribed lemon balm enemas. Whereas the ladies recovered, 12-year-old Mario Guilherme Augusto de Sampaio died in spasms and convulsions on April 2.

As soon as once more, the signs have been according to poisoning, and suspicion quickly fell on de Freitas. He was arrested, tried, and convicted in 1893, though he maintained his innocence for the remainder of his life. This was the notorious “Crime of Flores Avenue” and it made headlines world wide. The case continues to fascinate Ricardo Jorge Dinis-Oliveira, a forensic toxicologist on the College of Porto, greater than 130 years later, as a result of it gave beginning to forensic toxicology research in Portugal and nonetheless informs present-day Portuguese medico-legal procedures. It is also one hell of a narrative: “It can definitely make a very good film,” Dinis-Oliveira wrote.

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