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In a Parisian prison hospital, at the age of 79, Michel Furnier, perhaps the most famous and hated criminal in France, died. The enormity of his crimes horrified the whole country. He was serving a life sentence for 11 murders of girls and women. But the exact number of his victims is likely to be much higher.
The more monstrous the criminal, the sooner he will become the hero of books or movies. Especially in France, a country that loves to read and watch crime. In this sense, Michel Furnier is one of the few exceptions. Only one book has been written about the most terrible criminal in France, and the only film about him came out only this year, shortly before his death. France, it seems, has long wanted to forget about Furnier, better known as the “Ardennes man-eater.”
In 2008, he and his wife were sentenced to life imprisonment without the right to pardon for a series of rapes and murders. He confessed in 11 episodes, but the investigation believes that there were many more victims of the perpetrator. The youngest known was only nine years old.
Soldier, carpenter, pedophile
Michel Furnier was born in 1942 in Sedan, a town close to the Belgian border and best known as the site of one of the most devastating defeats of the French army. The Battle of Sedan in 1870, during which the French army was defeated and Emperor Napoleon III was captured, was the beginning of the end of both the Franco-Prussian War and the French monarchy.
As a child, Furnire did not stand out among his peers. He served in the army during the bloody war in Algeria, but does not seem to have proven himself there either. In any case, he returned to France without awards, titles and military histories. At home, he worked as a carpenter, electrician and even managed to work at school for some time. Not a teacher, of course.
Furnire was popular with women. However, his real passion was virgins, and the younger the better. In 1967 he was detained for the first time. He molested a minor. The verdict was as humane as possible. Furnire had no criminal record and got off with a suspended sentence of eight months. This was the reason for the first divorce, but he quickly found himself a new wife and continued to commit crimes. True, then he had not yet killed.
In 1984, Michel Furnier still went to prison, he was sentenced to three years for assaulting a young woman. The conclusion was a turning point for him. His second wife also divorced him, after which he started a correspondence affair with a certain Monique Olivier, who would later become his third and last wife. He also forged a relationship with a cellmate who was serving time for robbing a bank. The stolen valuables and gold bars were never found, but Furnire learned that the bandit’s wife knew where they were hidden.
Furnire was released in 1987. At the gate he was greeted by Monique, whom he had married while still in prison. Michel tracked down the wife of his cellmate, got into her confidence, found out the whereabouts of the kidnapped from the bank, and then killed her.
The gold that the couple received was enough to buy an old chateau and live the life of prosperous and unburdened people. Now nothing prevented Michel from doing what he loved.
Later, France will be amazed that Monique Olivier not only knew about her husband’s addictions, but also actively helped him.
They committed their first joint crime just a couple of months after the release of Furnire. As they drove past 17-year-old Isabelle Laville, they stopped, ostensibly to ask for directions. After a few minutes of conversation, Isabelle got into their car. She was never seen again.
Gradually, the couple developed their own modus operandi with a distribution of roles. In fact, I found Monique’s victims. She met girls who were voting on the highway or standing at the bus stop and offered to give them a ride. Even the most cautious of the girls, who knew perfectly well that one should not get into the car with strangers, did not see anything suspicious in a nice woman at the wheel. Sometimes Monique was with her baby son, and when she went without him, she did not forget to leave the child seat, toys or something else that said that she was a happy mother.
A few kilometers later, they met Michel waving an empty gas can on their way. Together, Monique and Michelle twisted the girl and went further into the forest, where the worst happened. Monique checked the victim’s virginity and left her with her husband. When it was all over, they took the corpse away and buried it. Later, at the trial, Furnire said that he needed a “hunt” twice a year.
When France was horrified
Фото: Bruno Arnold, AP
The bloody raids of the “Ardennes man-eater” and his wife lasted 15 years. Furnire never came to the attention of the police – the victims were considered missing, no one ever tried to link their disappearance. And it never occurred to anyone at all to associate these disappearances with the sweet and quiet Monsieur Furnire, a lover of literature, the owner of a luxurious chateau, a good chess player, a happy husband and father. Therefore, the appearance of Monique Olivier at a police station in neighboring Belgium in 2003 caused a real shock.
Olivier did not come to confess because of remorse. She was driven by cold calculation. A few days earlier, the next “hunt” ended in complete failure. A 13-year-old Belgian girl, chosen to be the next victim, managed to escape. Monique decided that her fate would be less severe if she went to the police and confessed everything. In her first testimony, Monique said that Furnire had intimidated her, bewitched that she acted, not always understanding what she was doing. Nevertheless, the secret was revealed quite quickly.
As it turned out, Monique promised to help Michelle in exchange for killing her then-husband.
Michel deceived her: he did not kill Monsieur Olivier, but the joint murder of the wife of a former cellmate tied them up forever.
Michel and Monique were arrested in 2003. Their trial took place in 2008. By that time, seven victims of the maniac were known. Their remains have been found. Already in prison, the “Ardennes man-eater” and his wife confessed to the murder of four more girls. The oldest victim was 21 years old, the youngest nine years old.
Currently, Furnire has been identified as the murderer of 11 girls. The police and the investigation, however, believe that there were much more victims of the bloody couple – at least 40. True, it is not possible to find out completely. In prison, the maniac was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (his lawyers even tried to get him released on the basis of this, but to no avail). And in November last year, when the police decided to interrogate him again about the murder of nine-year-old Estelle Muzen, the pedophile suffered a stroke. He died on Monday. May 10, in one of the Parisian hospitals. The authorities acknowledge that with his death, the likelihood of finding his other victims is minimal.