Mon, Jul 05, 2004 - Page 7 News List

French serial killer locates two bodies

AFP , DONCHERY, FRANCE

Monique Olivier, wife of serial killer Michel Fourniret who confessed to burying two of his nine victims, accompanies police on Saturday at the grounds of a chateau near Donchery, northern France, where investigators were searching for the bodies.

PHOTO: REUTERS

An avowed serial killer on Saturday led police to the bodies of a 12-year-old girl and 22-year-old woman he admitted having killed and buried on the grounds of his former home 15 years earlier, prosecutors said.

The two are among nine people, including eight women and girls, that Michel Fourniret has confessed to having killed between 1987 and 2001.

"We have found the second body, and thus 15 years of investigation have just come to their conclusion," prosecutor Yves Charpenel announced on the site of the chateau, in the Ardennes forest region bordering Belgium and France.

"It is with quite some emotion that I announce the discovery of [the remains of] Elisabeth Brichet," a 12-year-old Belgian girl whom Michel Fourniret has admitted to killing in 1989, said another prosecutor, Cedric Visart de Bocarme.

The body of Jeanne-Marie Desramault, who Fourniret said he also killed and interred in 1989, was identified earlier. Prosecutors said experts would conduct analyses to confirm the identifications.

In a startling case that has unfolded with dramatic speed, Fourniret, 62, confessed days ago to the nine killings, many of which took place in this wooded border region, and then offered to help police dig up the remains of two of his victims at the chateau he once owned.

He has been dubbed "the French Dutroux" by media because his confessions emerged just a week after Belgian Marc Dutroux received a life sentence for a horrific series of rapes and murders of teenage girls that traumatized Belgian society.

Fourniret, who has been held in Belgium since June last year for abduction of minors and sexual misconduct, confessed to the killings after his estranged wife accused him of committing at least 10 murders.

Both he and his wife, Monique Olivier, were brought to the Sautou chateau on Saturday, where about 200 police equipped with ground-digging excavators hunted for the victims' bodies in areas indicated by Fourniret.

When the bodies were disinterred, Fourniret showed no emotion, prosecutor Charpenel said on site, near this small town in the French Ardennes mountains.

The prosecutor said expert testing would be done, possibly DNA testing, to confirm the victims' identities, adding that the "clay earth has preserved the bodies."

On Brichart's body, Visart de Bocarme said: "The elements of visual identification are absolutely positive, there are traces of fabric which have made a formal identification possible."

Fourniret was convicted of rape and indecent assault on minors and sentenced to seven years in prison, and was released early in 1987. But his criminal record never reached police in Belgium.

Some newspapers, however, said Belgian police had known about his sexual proclivities since 2001.

He was arrested again in Belgium last year after allegedly trying to abduct a 13-year-old Congolese girl who escaped and led police to him.

Fourniret has confessed to killing a ninth victim, a man, for money.

He also confessed to the murder of a woman in order to get the fortune with which he bought the 19th-century chateau.

The property stands on a 15-hectare estate surrounded by 600 hectares of woodland.

Investigators reportedly looked into a tip by Fourniret's wife Olivier and found a cache of gold coins apparently belonging to Fourniret, and worth some 25,000 euros (US$30,000).

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