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The couple who 'hunted virgins'

Michel Fourniret, a diminutive, bespectacled man, was dubbed the "Ogre of Ardennes" for the crimes he committed alongside his grey-haired wife, Monique.

Michel Fourniret
Fourniret confessed to the murders and will not appeal his sentence

He has been found guilty of murdering seven girls and women aged between 12 and 22 from 1987 onwards.

By his own admission, however, he has killed more - strangling, shooting or stabbing his victims with a screwdriver.

From their chateau on the forested border region between France and Belgium the pair would head out in their small van, sometimes with their baby son in the vehicle, looking for victims.

Monique Oliver and Michel Fourniret had signed a criminal pact: she pledged to help him find the young women he sought; he, in return, promised that he would kill her former husband.

But only Monique carried out her role, presenting the picture of domesticity that lured young women into trusting the couple.

Pen-pals

Prosecutors said Fourniret was "obsessed" with virgins.

Monique Olivier, wife of Monique Olivier
Wife Monique faces at least 28 years in prison for her role as an accomplice

Monique, meanwhile, defended her actions, saying her husband manipulated and terrified her.

"The fear was constant, it lived within me" she told the court.

The 66-year-old Fourniret, a forest warden, first made contact with Monique while he was in detention, awaiting trial for a sex crime.

He is reported to have placed an advert in a Catholic magazine for a pen-pal. She replied and they began a correspondence.

When he left prison, in 1987, they moved in together in a house in the south of Paris, before later purchasing the castle surrounded by woods in France's Ardennes region, near the border with Belgium.

The killing spree began just two months after Fourniret was released. Monique reportedly later told police that her role had been to "hunt virgins" for her husband.

Forest burials

Travelling in their van, the couple approached 17-year-old Isabelle Laville, who was on her way home from school.

Victim's mother reacts to the verdict

Under the pretence of asking her directions, they managed to persuade her to travel with them to show them the way.

Her remains were found at the bottom of a well almost two decades later.

A year later, 20-year-old Fabienne Leroy was seized from a supermarket car park east of Paris. Her body was found near a military base the day after she disappeared. She had been shot in the chest.

The bodies of Fourniret's other victims - all of whom he admitted to killing but denies raping - were found in the grounds of his chateau, on a beach or deep in the forest.

Uncooperative

Fourniret was discovered when, in 2003, a 13-year-old girl he attempted to abduct managed to escape.

FOURNIRET'S LIFE
1983-1987: In prison in France
1992: Moves to Belgium
June 2003: Arrested in Belgium
June-July 2004: Wife Monique Olivier denounces him, Fourniret admits nine murders

She managed to bite her way through the ropes around her wrists and flee, having the presence of mind to make a note of his registration number.

Under questioning, Monique Olivier confessed, apparently fearing she would face a conviction similar to the 30-year sentence handed down to the spouse of Belgian paedophile and murderer Marc Dutroux.

Indeed the French court later ruled that she must serve at least 28 years of her life sentence, after being found guilty of acting as her husband's accomplice in five of the murders.

Fourniret - who is described as of above average intelligence - was unco-operative during his two-month trial.

He unsuccessfully tried to have the media and press removed from the courtroom and often refused to speak, passing secret notes to his lawyers and the judge.

Fourniret still denies having committed any crime between 1990 and 2000 but is suspected of being involved in the murder of a Leeds university student, Joanna Parish, who disappeared in Burgundy in 1990.


SEE ALSO
French 'killer' admits two more
02 Jul 04 |  Europe

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