4 April 1942 |
|Other names||The Ogre of Ardennes
The Beast of Ardennes
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
|Number of victims||7-9+|
|Span of killings||1987–2001 (2003?)|
|Date apprehended||26 June 2003|
Michel Fourniret (born 4 April 1942) is a convicted French serial killer who confessed in June and July 2004 to kidnapping, raping and murdering nine girls in a span of 14 years from the 1980s to the 2000s. He was also accused of 10 additional murders, nine in France and one in Belgium, and was found guilty of seven of these charges. The trials started on 27 March 2008, and ended on 28 May. He is sometimes referred to as the "Ogre/Beast of the Ardennes".
Fourniret was arrested after a failed attempt to kidnap a Belgian girl in June 2003. His wife, Monique Olivier, exposed him after hearing the news of another child murderer's wife (Michelle Martin, wife of Marc Dutroux) being convicted. Fourniret was charged with the abduction of minors and sexual misconduct, and has been in detention since June 2003 for the attempted kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl in 2000. Olivier was charged with one murder and for helping him with a further six.
Fourniret buried at least two of his victims at his Sautou chateau near Donchery in the French Ardennes in the late 1980s. On 3 July 2004, a team of French and Belgian police recovered the bodies of two of Fourniret's victims near the chateau. Fourniret was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 22 years.
- Isabelle Laville – a 17-year-old French girl. She disappeared in Auxerre, on 11 December 1987 on her way home from school. Her skeletal remains were located at the bottom of a well in the country north of Auxerre in July 2006.
- Farida Hellegouarch – the girlfriend of one of the members of the Gang des postiches (a gang of bank robbers), a former cellmate of Fourniret's. Fourniret killed her in 1988 to access the group's funds. He bought his castle in France with the money.
- Fabienne Leroy – a 20-year-old woman. She disappeared in 1988 in Mourmelon, and her body was later found in the nearby woods. Killed by a shot to the heart after attempted to inject air in her veins.
- Jeanne-Marie Desramault – a 22-year-old French student. She disappeared in 1989 from the railway station of Charleville-Mézières, and her body was recovered from the estate of Fourniret with his assistance.
- Elisabeth Brichet – a 12-year-old Belgian girl. She disappeared from Namur in 1989 after playing with a friend. Her disappearance was long thought to be at the hands of Marc Dutroux, until Fourniret led police to her burial site on his estate in France.
- Natacha Danais – a 13-year-old French girl, disappeared November 1990 in Nantes, western France whilst out shopping with her mother. Her body was found a few days later on a local beach.
- Céline Saison – 18-year-old who disappeared in 2000 in Charleville-Mézières. Her body was found in Belgium.
- Mananya Thumpong – 13-year-old who disappeared in 2001 from Sedan. Her body was also later found in Belgium.
Fourniret's wife has also said that Fourniret killed a 16-year-old girl who had worked as an au pair at their house. Fourniret allegedly killed her in 1993, but this has not been confirmed. The identity of this alleged victim is not known.
Fourniret himself says he did not commit any crimes between 1990 and 2000, however police in at least five countries (France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark) have taken a fresh look at old rapes, disappearances and murders during that time period. In Denmark, police noticed that a police sketch of a rape suspect looked a lot like Fourniret, but a DNA test showed no similarities. In the Netherlands, investigators in the disappearances of Tanja Groen and Nicky Verstappen have investigated Fourniret.
In 2006 rumors circulated that Fourniret might have been the real murderer of eight-year-old Marie-Dolores Rambla. Christian Ranucci had been convicted of the crime, and beheaded on 28 July 1976. The case has always been controversial.
New evidence showed that Fourniret was taking a holiday in Marseille at the same time and place Rambla was murdered. On 3 June 1974, Rambla and her brother Jean met a man in a car who claimed he was searching for his dog. Marie-Dolores joined the man in his car and was kidnapped. Over an hour after her disappearance, the car of the kidnapper was involved in a car accident with a person named Martinez but the kidnapper drove away. Followed by an elderly couple, he was seen carrying a big package. The police suspected there was a connection between the kidnapping and the fleeing driver. Following an extensive search, the body of Marie-Dolores Rambla, stabbed to death, was found in some bushes. Ranucci was arrested since he was in a car accident that day and was carrying a large package. In Ranucci's car, the police discovered a pair of pants with dried blood of the same blood type as Rambla.
Ranucci confessed to killing the girl and told the police where the knife was hidden (the bushes). But Ranucci only confessed to things discovered by the police in the first 48 hours. A day after, Ranucci denied being the murderer. It has been suggested that Ranucci's file was altered and certain pieces of evidence were hidden to better match his "confession". For example, the bloodstains on his pants were much older than the day of the murder, and could be explained due to a fall from his motorcycle. Ranucci had the same blood type as Rambla. The elderly couple claimed they saw the girl in the back of Ranucci's car and heard her screaming. But the couple did not leave their car and Ranucci's car door was broken on the side they claimed he had opened to snatch the girl out of the car. Further investigation showed that a red sweater found at the scene of the crime did not belong to Ranucci, as previously thought.
Later, five people told the police they saw the kidnapping but none of them identified Ranucci as the perpetrator.
Several facts point to Fourniret's possible involvement in the crime. He was on vacation in Marseille in June 1974, drove a car of the same color (grey), was 32 years old and, unlike Ranucci, had a record of sex offences. Fourniret used many tricks, similar to the lie about the lost dog. Also, Rambla showed no signs of being sexually molested. Fourniret often ejaculated in front of his victims instead of sexually assaulting them.
He was named as a suspect in connection with the murder of 21-year-old Englishwoman Joanna Parrish, whose body was found in an Auxerre river on 17 May 1990. She had been raped and strangled. However, he has never been charged with her murder and 20 years on the murder remains unsolved.
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