The “cold case” now has its answer.

Joël Bourgeon was sentenced Wednesday evening to 20 years in prison for the murder of Martine Escadeillas, who disappeared at the end of 1986, after having reaffirmed his innocence during his trial in Toulouse.

The jury of the Haute-Garonne Assize Court followed the Advocate General.

For the latter, there is "no reasonable doubt about the guilt of Joël Bourgeon", a former friend of Martine, whose body has never been found, and of his companion, Thierry Milicevic.

During his indictment, Nicolas Ruff reviewed "the body of serious and consistent evidence" that, in the absence of irrefutable evidence, the investigators put forward before this trial, which began last Friday.

Confessions then a retraction

The Advocate General further recalled that the accused confessed to the murder of Martine in 2019, more than three decades after her disappearance in 1986, before recanting and claiming that the investigators had exerted "pressure" on him and had dictated his confession to him.

If Nicolas Ruff recognized "errors" in the investigation, "left fallow for years and years", he assured that the confessions of Joël Bourgeon were not "extorted" from him.

Taking the opposite view of the Advocate General, Me Eric Mouton, defender of the accused, had invited the jury to "doubt" "this famous theory, a little villainous, of the bundle of clues".

“For 35 years, we have been looking for a culprit”, he said, underlining the difficulty of judging old facts, which make “the testimonies flexible, modifiable, according to memories”.

A mystery remains

The accused, now 58, was very close to Martine's companion.

They played football together, went on motorcycle trips and had been invited to lunch with the young woman's parents the day before she disappeared.

On Monday, several witnesses spoke of the stress and fear felt by Martine Escadeillas, then 24 years old, before her disappearance on the morning of December 8, 1986 in the suburbs of Toulouse.

But there again, time spent was blurring their memories.

This trial over, one question remains unanswered: Where is the remains of the young woman?


Martine Escadeillas case: Judged 35 years after the facts, Joël Bourgeon denies and evokes the "pressure" of the investigators


“There is something universal in news items”, assures Jacques Pradel

  • Justice

  • Toulouse

  • Murder

  • Disappearance

  • Cold box

  • Occitania