French 'serial killer' named in British student murder
16 February 2005, PARIS - The former wife of self-confessed French serial killer Michel Fourniret has confessed that the couple committed the hitherto unsolved abduction, rape and murder of British student teacher Joanna Parrish in the Burgundy town of Auxerre in 1990.
16 February 2005
PARIS - The former wife of self-confessed French serial killer Michel Fourniret has confessed that the couple committed the hitherto unsolved abduction, rape and murder of British student teacher Joanna Parrish in the Burgundy town of Auxerre in 1990.
The failed official investigation into the murder has become notorious in Britain, with allegations of incompetence and corruption fuelled by a backdrop of dozens of unsolved murders and disappearances of young women in the same small area of Burgundy, called the Yonne, which lies 160 kilometres south of Paris.
Joanna's father, Roger Parrish, who has denounced long periods of inactivity and repeated bungling by the French investigators, gave a cautious reaction to the news Wednesday: "We don't know what to make of the claims because we have been offered no guidance as to their possible veracity," he said.
Fourniret, 62, a convicted serial rapist, last year confessed to a total of nine murders across France and in Belgium during the 1980s and early 90s after similar denunciations early summer by his ex-wife, Monique Olivet.
Monique Olivier, 53, made the confession on Monday when she also claimed she was present when her husband abducted and murdered a 19 year-old French woman, Marie-Ange Domece, also in Auxerre, two years before Joanna's murder. The body of Domece, who disappeared after walking along a road to the central Auxerre railway station in 1988, has never been found.
Fourniret and Olivier are currently being held in preventive detention in Belgium, where they were arrested for two murders and an attempted kidnapping in 2003.
French public prosecutor Francis Nachbar told Expatica France that Olivier made the confessions when he and a team of detectives from the French police, the SRPJ (judicial police) based in Reims, questioned her in Belgium under the terms of a commission rogatoire.
He said Olivier did not mention either the names of Joanna Parrish or Marie-Ange Domece, but that her descriptions of the crimes made it immediately obvious she was referring to both. She reportedly admitted participating in the abduction of the victims, just as she has also previously confessed to aiding her former husband in other killings and rapes.
In most of the cases, and in the Parrish and Domece cases in particular, Olivier says she was present in the van the couple used, intended to reassure Fourniret's victims who she has claimed were often chosen by her husband in a sudden decision.
Nachbar is the public prosecutor for the north eastern town of Charleville-Mezieres, in the French Ardennes, where the magistrates heading the investigation into all of Fourniret's alleged crimes in France are based. The town was the scene of the abduction and murder of another of Fourniret's alleged victims, 22 year-old Jeanne-Marie Desramault, in 1989.
Fourniret and Olivier moved to the French Ardennes region in 1989 from a temporary home with Olivet's parents in a village close to Auxerre, where they lived for two years. Olivet met Fourniret as a prison visitor when he was serving a sentence for a series of rapes near Paris, and the couple moved to the Auxerre region after he was released.
Fourniret has already admitted, after denunciation last year by Olivet, to murdering 17 year-old schoolgirl Isabelle Laville in Auxerre in 1987, one of several dozen unsolved cases of disappearances in the region which were shelved by the Auxerre investigators.
He has similarly confirmed his former wife's allegations of a series of sexual attacks and murders around France, the victims aged between 11 and 22 years old.
Nachbar said Fourniret denied involvement in the murders of Parrish and Domece when he was subsequently questioned Tuesday. Nachbar told Expatica France that Fourniret has previously confirmed Olivier's allegations only after a period of reflection.
Joanna Parrish, who was serving a one-year Leeds university undergraduate post as an English language teaching assistant in Auxerre, disappeared on May 16, 1990 after she went to meet a man who had answered an advert she placed locally to give private language lessons. She had an early evening appointment in central Auxerre, but was never seen alive again after leaving her flat at the Jacques Amyot secondary school where she taught.
Her naked body was found the next morning in the village of Moneteau, close to Auxerre, floating in the river Yonne. She had been severely battered, raped and strangled.
Joanna's parents, Roger, 62, and Pauline, 59, together with their son Barney, 32, have since led a tireless campaign for justice, including a number of private initiatives for witness appeals and leading their own investigation after what they have denounced as an ineffective and insensitive official enquiry. They have slammed the French-led investigation, based in Auxerre, for losing vital evidence, mislaying statements and failing to pursue obvious leads.
"We can't understand that Fourniret, with a string of convictions for rape, was able to avoid becoming a suspect in Joanna's case, and that of other unsolved attacks and murders in the region, despite the fact that he lived in the area," said Roger Parrish Wednesday, speaking from his home close to Gloucester.
Nachbar, who called a press conference Wednesday in Charleville-Mezieres, said Olivier had backed up her allegations with convincing detail.
But when questioned by Expatica France about the case of Joanna Parrish, he was unable to offer evidence of this beyond the fact that Olivier had said Joanna was bound hand and foot and that her body was thrown into the river Yonne, all of which were details widely reported in the press in France and Britain.
Joanna's parents voiced their anger and dismay Wednesday that they had received no information about Olivet's confessions beyond a brief word from their Paris-based lawyers, alerted by Nachbar, that a press conference was to be held later in the day.
They now face an agonising wait to discover whether the confessions and accusations can be given credence. Nachbar admitted it could take several weeks "at least" before they can see exactly what Olivet said during the questioning on Monday.
They will hope to do so, as is their right under French law, as soon as their Paris lawyers obtain a copy of Olivet's statement. Meanwhile they complain they have had no advice as to why the French authorities apparently believe the statements to be accurate.
In a statement released in Britain late Wednesday, they admit to being painfully divided in their reaction to the revelations.
"The only way that we have received any news so far is from our own personal contacts in France.
"We are once again dismayed that we are being left in a state of limbo, but this follows the pattern of the way that we have been treated by the French authorities over the last 15 years.
"Over the years there have been many revelations and we have learned to be guarded and are so on this occasion.
"For the moment we will have to reserve our judgment. This is a difficult period and we are feeling a mixture of emotions.
"If the news is positively confirmed we will obviously have a great sense of relief amongst other strong feelings."
© Expatica France News
Subject: French News