Isabelle Labille, 17, was walking home when a van, driven by a woman, stopped next to her. The motorist spoke somewhat distressed, anxious. She was lost, he told the girl, and she needed him to tell her how to get to a certain place. Isabelle noticed that the lady's destination was not far from her house and she began to give her directions. The woman in the truck seemed not to understand the route she should take and, then, she asked the young girl to accompany her and point out the streets. The girl accepted.
Protagonist of an involuntary farce
They went a long way when they saw a man on the side of a car, waving. The lady driving the van stopped. The man explained that her car had broken down and that he needed to go to the nearest town for help.
The Ogre of the Ardennes, the ruthless French killer who “needed” to kill two virgin girls a year.
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The trucker's lady didn't hesitate for a moment and allowed him to get on. Isabelle did not know that she had become the involuntary protagonist of a farce whose purpose was to rape and murder her.
The lady in the truck was called Monique Olivier and she was the third wife of the man who had problems with his car, named Michel Fourniret and nicknamed “The Ogre of the Ardennes.” Everything that had happened had been a plan thought up by the couple to trap Isabelle. Monique and Michel dedicated themselves to kidnapping young virgins, in France and Belgium, to subject them to savage sexual practices and then murder them. Fourniret, one of the most ruthless serial killers in France, would repeat what he did with Isabelle eleven more times, always with the help of his beloved wife.
Michel Fourniret and sexual purity
Michel had a childhood typical of many serial killers: an alcoholic father and a perverse mother who slept with him since he was four years old. Incest disrupted his sexuality.
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He fought in the French army in the Algerian War of Independence. He was, later, a carpenter, electrician, school supervisor and even a draftsman. At age 22, he married Annette. They had a son, but Michel later learned that he had not been the first man in his wife's life. He was obsessed with knowing that she wasn't a virgin when they met and he abandoned her, baby and all.
From then on he began to desperately search for what he called “sexual purity”, virginity, innocence. From 1966 to 1973, he had a dozen arrests for sexual abuse of young girls in the cities of Nantes and Verdun, but only one minor sentence: he was given eight months in prison for groping a girl. It was 1967.
Monique Olivier, the third wife and accomplice of the Ardennes ogre.
As soon as he served that sentence, Annette asked him for a divorce. Michel immediately married Nicole, who knew nothing about her husband's sexual tendencies. After the birth of her third child, she learned that her husband did not find sexual satisfaction with her but with virgin girls. It was around 1984 and coincided with Michel's arrest due to a dozen sexual abuses and assaults against girls in the Paris region. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, but due to good behavior he only served three. Nicole, like Annette did before, filed for divorce and took her three children and she never saw him again.
Michel Fourniret, an exemplary prisoner
As Michel was an exemplary prisoner, they allowed him to publish the following advertisement in the Catholic weekly “Le Pèlerin”: “Prisoner would like to correspond with people of any age to forget loneliness.” In this way, he met Monique Oliver, a nurse, divorced and with two children that he left in the care of her ex-husband. The relationship by letter was so intense that Michel confessed in writing his incestuous relationship with his mother and even the abuse committed against girls due to his compulsion to obtain pleasure with virgins.
Monique was not scared, on the contrary. She was fascinated. She began to personally go to the prison and confessed to Michel that she was willing to help him satisfy her outrageous desires. When Michel was released in 1987, he married Monique. They settled in the commune of Floing, in the Champagne-Ardenne area. The couple divided roles. Monique would act as bait to “catch” the girls; Michel would check to see if their hymens were intact and then rape and murder them.
Some of the victims of the Ardennes ogre
The couple loved each other passionately in the depths of distortion. Creators of appearances, she always played the role of the distracted one who lost her way, that is, the innocent lady who needed help. She would ask a girl for an address and somehow convince her to come with her. Then, meters later, the second act of the tragedy occurred: a man appeared whose car had broken down. It was Michel. Then the rapist and murderer got into Monique's truck with the excuse of reaching him to a service station, but Monique drove to a secluded place and there Michel raped the young woman on duty and then killed her.
The victims of the Ardennes ogre
The first victim was Isabelle Leville, deceived and attacked on December 11, 1987 in Auxerre, when she was on her way home (Isabelle's mutilated body would only be discovered in 2006). The couple used this trap of the missing woman and the man on the road with their broken down car for 15 years, both in France and on the Belgian border.
Already in 1988, they found the body of Fabienne Leroy, 20 years old. She had been raped and shot dead in the chest. In March 1989, Michel killed two more girls: Jeanne-Marie Desramault, a 22-year-old French student, and Elisabeth Brichet, a 12-year-old Belgian girl. Both bodies were buried in forests. In November 1990, “The Ogre of the Ardennes” killed a 13-year-old French girl, Natacha Danais, whose body was later dumped on a beach.
Fourniret buried the bodies of his victims in the forests of the Ardennes.
That same year, the murderous couple became millionaires. He stole the loot from a gang of bank robbers made up of, among others, Farida Hellegouarch. Before murdering her, they obtained information from her about the hiding place of the money collected in the robberies. With that money, the couple bought a huge 18th century castle in the French region of the Ardennes, near the border with Belgium. The new residence offered Michel and Monique greater privacy to commit their crimes: they used the nearby forests as a cemetery to dispose of the bodies of victims such as Céline Saison, 18, murdered in 2000, and Manyana Thumpong, also 18, Buried in 2001.
Michel Fourniret attacked girls from 9 to 30 years old. After the abuse, he killed them by strangulation, stabbing, or shooting them with a firearm.
The last victim of the Ardennes ogre
The latest victim, a 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped in June 2003 in the Belgian border town of Ciney, is called Marie-Ascension. Her capture was the beginning of the end for “the ogre of the Ardennes.” Marie was able to free herself from the restraints on her hands and feet, jumped out of the van, hid and then looked for help. A motorist helped her and took her to the police station. The girl described the couple and gave the license plate of the truck. The police immediately learned the couple's address. Monique and Michel were eventually arrested.
During the first interrogation, Michel denied all the crimes he was accused of. However, during the search of his truck, Marie-Ascension's hair was located. The Police believed that Monique's interrogation would be more fruitful and they were not wrong; They were convinced that if they pressured her by showing her the evidence found in her truck, she would rat him out. They were not wrong. The nurse confessed absolutely everything, with details of the kidnappings and murders carried out in the last fifteen years and the places where a total of eleven victims had been buried.
As soon as the police informed Michel that his wife had confessed to all the cases, the murderer broke down and began cooperating to locate the girls' bodies.
Five years later, legal proceedings against the marriage began. The trial lasted from March 27, 2008 to May 28, 2008. The main defendant, Michel Fourniret, shocked the Court of Assize, in Charleville-Mézières, when he recounted details of some of the crimes. According to his statement, he needed to search for a virgin at least twice a year.
Fabienne Leroy and Elisabeth Brichet, other victims of Fourniret.
The court sentenced the “Ogre of the Ardennes” to life imprisonment, without the possibility of sentence reduction, for being guilty of seven murders. Monique also received a life sentence but with the possibility of asking for freedom after 28 years of confinement.
Thirteen years after being convicted, Michel, in very poor health, announced that he wanted to confess to more crimes. In 2016, he said he had killed British teacher Joanna Parrish, 20, whom he raped and strangled. He indicated the exact location of the body: it was buried on the banks of a river near the city of Auxerre, in the Burgundy region.
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In 2018, the pedophile confessed to two more murders and, in 2020, after divorcing Monique, he admitted to having kidnapped and murdered 9-year-old Estelle Mouzin, who was listed in police records as missing near Paris in 2003. Despite the confession of Estelle's murder, the serial killer never gave the exact place where he buried the girl.
“The Ogre of the Ardennes” died in the La Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris on May 10, 2021, at the age of 79. He had heart problems and Alzheimer's.