Belgium: 89-year-old woman convicted of murdering her best friend

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BRUSSELS | An 89-year-old Belgian was found guilty by an Assize Court on Friday of the stabbing murder of her best friend, a 93-year-old woman who had made her the legatee of most of her fortune.

Clara Maes, 84 at the time of the events in 2015, has always denied the murder, both during the investigation and during the trial which was held this week in Arlon, in the French-speaking south of Belgium.

This trial attracted the limelight because of the great age of the accused, moving with difficulty towards the box and locked in his silence. Appearing free, she kept answering “I don’t remember” to the president’s questions.

The crime dates back to January 3, 2015. The body of the victim, Suzanne Thibeau, 93, was found in a pool of blood at her home in Libramont in the early afternoon by a couple of friends.

The investigation showed that she had received in the morning a visit from her old friend Clara, who like every day offered to bring her bread or do her dishes, according to the Belga press agency.

Belgium: 89-year-old woman convicted of murdering her best friend

Clara Maes was the last person to see Suzanne Thibeau alive. She became the number one suspect in the crime when investigators noted the absence of a break-in at her friend’s house and inconsistencies in her explanations, in particular about a change of clothes during the day on January 3.

Traces of the victim’s DNA were also found in Clara Maes’ vehicle, which was likely stained with her blood, according to the investigation.

At the hearing in front of the assizes, witnesses explained that relations had deteriorated between the two friends due to the strong character of Clara and her repeated intrusions into Suzanne’s life.

Exasperated, “Suzanne surely told Clara that she was going to change the will,” said Marc Kauten, one of the civil party lawyers.

Suzanne Thibeau, widow without children, had designated Clara Maes as legatee of her heritage up to 70%, and a cousin up to 30%. The accused was also the beneficiary of a donation of nearly 300,000 euros from the victim, according to a notary deed of September 2014.

The debates showed that Clara Maes, a retired nurse, could not ignore him, as she claimed.

After the guilt, the jury had to decide secondly on the length of the sentence. A sentence of at least ten years in prison has been called for by the general counsel.

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