A suspected serial killer in some of France’s oldest unsolved cases has been found dead after 35 years on the run.
- The man has been linked to four murders and six rapes and is the suspect in another murder
- The first known victim was an 8-year-old girl who survived
- His wife reported missing after investigators sent her a summons
Authorities investigated several rapes and murders that took place between 1986 and 1994.
Disclaimer: This story contains content which may be distressing for some readers.
The killer, nicknamed “Le Grêlé” for his acne-scarred face, has never been apprehended.
He was wanted for a list of crimes including rape of a minor, murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and kidnapping of minors, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau said in a statement.
The man, a former gendarme and police officer identified as François Vérove, committed suicide in a rented apartment, leaving a written confession, a source familiar with the matter told AFP news agency.
Police took a DNA sample from the body and found it matched the DNA profile found at several of the crime scenes.
An eight-year-old girl was the first known victim.
She was approached in the elevator of her apartment building on April 8, 1986 by a man who introduced himself as a police officer, then took her to the basement and raped her and attempted to strangle her.
The young girl lost consciousness but did not die.
A month later, an 11-year-old girl was raped and killed in the basement of her Paris apartment building.
His half-brother crossed paths with the suspect and described him to investigators, allowing the production of a police sketch which was then hung in many police stations in France.
But the police having no leads, the investigation was closed in 1992.
In 1996, a new judge reopened the case and ordered a DNA analysis of the evidence, which yielded the suspect’s DNA.
The same genetic profile was found in several other cases:
- The murder of a 21-year-old German au pair in 1987, and her employer.
- The rape of a 14-year-old girl in 1987 in Paris.
- The kidnapping and rape of an 11-year-old girl in a forest in Mitry, in the eastern suburbs of Paris, in 1994.
- The murder of a 19-year-old woman in 1994 in another forest.
The investigators were getting closer
Over the years, investigators have come to believe that the suspect may have been with the gendarmerie – the armed forces responsible for internal security – at the time of the crimes, and have established a DNA profile of him.
In recent months, an examining magistrate had started to question around 750 gendarmes who were then deployed in the Paris region.
One of them was Vérove, a 59-year-old man living in the south of France, who received a summons on September 24 but was later reported missing by his wife three days later.
He was found dead Wednesday in Grau-du-Roi, a fishing village on the Mediterranean coast, according to a press release.
He was a former gendarme, who later became a police officer and then retired, according to the press release.
According to local media, Vérove referred to “past impulses” in a letter he left, which he has since “under control,” and said he had committed no crime after 1997.
The murder confession contained no details, they said.
In 1986, police released a police sketch based on witness statements that showed a man of around 25, six feet tall with light brown hair and visible traces of acne on his face.
According to the Parisian newspaper, Vérove is also the suspect of another murder near Paris, of Karine Leroy, 19, in 1994 in the city of Meaux.
AFP / AP