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Monique Olivier, widow of the late serial killer Michel Fourniret

Photo: Miguel Medina / AFP

For the first time since the beginning of the trial for her complicity, the widow of serial killer Michel Fourniret has shown emotion: "She died because of me, it's unforgivable," 75-year-old Monique Olivier told the court in Paris on Tuesday. For a long time, she had silently looked at photos of a young British woman killed 35 years ago – and then pushed them away from her with a trembling hand.

The relatives of Joanna Parrish, who had been working as an English teacher in Burgundy at the time, left the courtroom when it came to the murder of her daughter.

"I was a coward, I heard her screaming, but I didn't intervene," Olivier recalled of the gruesome scene with the 20-year-old at the time. Her husband had let the young woman get into the back of the car. There he beat her unconscious, raped and killed her. Meanwhile, his wife had remained seated in the front seat.

"Was unable to do anything"

"I was scared, panicked. Was incapable of doing anything," she said. I was his hunting dog, I was always just the dog that obeyed," she said, explaining her role. She usually answered the judge's questions succinctly and imprecisely.

"It was just like that," she said of her then-husband's rapes and murders. "Every time there was a victim, he said, 'We don't talk about that anymore,'" she recalled.

However, the relatives' hopes for clues as to where the remains of two girls, who had been searched for in vain, were not fulfilled. She could not remember that, the defendant said. "If I knew, why should I conceal it?" she added.

"I'm sorry for everything that happened."

When Olivier was shown a photo of 18-year-old Marie-Angèle Domèce, the defendant also remained silent for a long time. "What does that face tell you?" one of the lawyers asked. "It should never have gone away," replied Olivier.

The trial is about aiding and abetting kidnapping, rape and murder in three cases. One of them is about Estelle Mouzin, who was nine years old at the time and had not come home from school two decades ago. Her body has not been found to this day, despite numerous search operations. She is the last known victim of the serial killer. "I'm sorry for everything that happened," Olivier had said at the beginning of the trial.

It is the third trial involving Fournirets' victims, but the first in which Olivier sits alone in the dock. She had already been sentenced to life imprisonment in previous trials.

Olivier had met Fourniret through a classified ad when he was in prison for rape. Even in his letters from prison, he told of his obsession with virgins. After his release, the perpetrator known as the "Ardennes Monster" kidnapped, raped and killed numerous young girls with the help of his wife. Fourniret was sentenced to life in prison and died in 2021.

If convicted, Olivier faces another life sentence. The verdict is scheduled for December 15.