Jean-Baptiste Marty // Photo credits: Serge Tenani / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP 09:00, 01 December 2023

After four days of trial for Monique Olivier before the Hauts-de-Seine Assize Court, the time has come for the civil parties to question themselves. Eleven murders to the credit of Michel Fourniret and his ex-wife, an accomplice, between 1988 and 2003, and a question: how did the investigators miss the trail of the diabolical couple for so long?

Fourth day of trial for Monique Olivier who appears before the Hauts-de-Seine Assize Court for complicity in the murder of three young girls between 1988 and 2003: Joanna Parrish, Marie-Angèle Domece and Estelle Mouzin. This is an opportunity for the civil parties to shed light on many grey areas, including the work of the investigators during this period. How could they have missed the trail of Michel Fourniret and his ex-wife Monique Olivier for so long?

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A former Reims investigator at the helm

Dressed in a dark suit and with greying hair, a former commander of the judicial police in Reims now admits that "we may have made a mistake." The mistake? Not having made the connection between several murders and the diabolical couple Fourniret-Olivier. In several cases that have remained unsolved for a long time, Michel Fourniret's name is never mentioned.

This is the case of Céline Saison, who was found dead in 2000, just one kilometre from the Château du Sautou, the residence of the Ogre of the Ardennes. "How were the investigations going at the time?" said Seban, lawyer for the families of the three young girls found dead for whom Monique Olivier is currently on trial for complicity in murder.

Free between 1987 and 2003

Already convicted of rape, Michel Fourniret was free between 1987 and 2003, when he was arrested. 16 years of atrocities, rapes and murders. A total of 11 are confessed, but there may be more. In the end, it was a failed kidnapping attempt in Belgium that put an end to this macabre journey. "If we had suspected him in 2000, maybe other victims would not have been killed," Seban said yesterday in front of a packed courtroom.

Other investigators will also have to explain themselves. Those of the judicial police of Versailles who have long ruled out the Fourniret trail in the disappearance of Estelle Mouzin because of a fragile alibi. They are due to be heard by the president next Tuesday.