Monique Olivier, a 75-year-old serving a life sentence, will appear in court in Paris on Tuesday. The ex-wife of serial killer Michel Fourniret, dubbed the “Ogre of the Ardennes” by the media, is accused of complicity in the abductions of three young women. For the families of the deceased, this may be the last chance for justice – writes “The Guardian” on Sunday.
For over 30 years, the parents of British student Joanna Parrish have been fighting for justice. Their daughter was murdered in 1990 by French serial killer Michel Fourniret. While the killer remained unidentified and at large, Roger Parrish and his ex-wife Pauline traveled to northern Burgundy searching for clues, questioning witnesses, forcing investigators to dig further and searching for answers they never found.
Fourinet, known as the “Ogre of the Ardennes,” was eventually captured and sentenced to life in prison in 2008 for the murders of seven other girls and young women. It would be another ten years before he confessed to killing Joanna Parish and two more victims whose bodies were never found – 19-year-old Marie-Angele Domece, who disappeared on her way home from school in 1988, and nine-year-old Estelle Mouzin, who disappeared in 2003. Fourniret, however, died in 2021 before he could stand trial and face criminal charges for killing more women.
On Tuesday, Monique Olivier, the killer’s ex-wife and accomplice, is currently serving a life sentence for her role in a 17-year series of kidnappings and murders that shocked Francewill appear in a Paris court accused of complicity in the abduction of Domece, Parrish and Mouzin.
For Roger Parrish, a retired civil servant from Newnham on Severn in Gloucestershire, Great Britain, the trial of 75-year-old Monique Olivier is a bitter culmination of the incompetence of the French police and justice system, which “failed” his family – writes “The Guardian”. “Fourniret will never be convicted of our daughter’s murder and that is the fault of the French justice system,” the father of the murdered woman said earlier this year.
Auxerre in northern Burgundy, a two-hour drive southeast of Paris, is a picturesque town on the Yonne River, dominated by a 13th-century cathedral and surrounded by Chablis vineyards. Joanna Parrish, an English student at the University of Leeds, arrived here in 1989 at the age of 20 for an eight-month internship as a teaching assistant at Jacques-Amyot High School.
She was saving money for a wedding and placed an ad in the local newspaper offering private English lessons and babysitting. On the evening of May 16, 1990. she told her friends that she was going to meet a man who wanted her to teach his son. The next morning, Joan’s body was found bound and naked in the Yonne River at Moneteau, less than five kilometers north of Auxerre. She was beaten, raped and strangled.
They met when Michel Fourniret was in prison
From the beginning, Roger and Pauline, Joanna’s parents, were struck by the senseless nature of the police investigation – writes the British daily. No witnesses were called and no attempt was made to match DNA evidence to local suspects, even after an investigation revealed the murder was one of a series of unsolved murders, sexual assaults and abductions dating back more than 20 years, including the disappearance Domece two years earlier from Jacques-Amyot High School.
There were so many unsolved cases that in press reports they were collectively called the “Yonne disappearances.” At that time, Fourniret and Olivier lived 20 km from Auxerre, where they moved after his release from prison.
The “Ogre of the Ardennes” had several previous convictions for sex crimes against minors dating back to the late 1960s and in 1984. he was sent to prison for multiple sexual assaults. Six weeks after her release in 1987, 17-year-old Isabelle Laville disappeared while returning from school to the outskirts of Auxerre and was discovered to have been drugged, raped and strangled.
However, the police did not find a connection between Fourniret and the disappearances and deaths of the young women. After Laville’s murder, Fourniret and Olivier – who met after Monique wrote letters to him while he was in prison – traveled between France and Belgiumwhere a series of disappearances and murders lasted for almost 20 years.
Their modus operandi was simple: Monique would stop her white van to ask a would-be victim for directions, suggesting that the potential victim, less suspicious of the woman, get into the vehicle and give directions. Fourniret was either hiding in the back of the vehicle or waiting nearby.
One of the kidnapped girls managed to escape
The pair were arrested in Belgium in 2003 after a kidnapped 17-year-old girl escaped from Fourniret’s car and gave details to police. A year later, Olivier told investigators that Fourniret had killed Marie-Angela Domece and Joanna Parrish. The cases were reopened and he was charged with murder – charges dropped when Monique Olivier withdrew her testimony. Only in a series of cold cases from 2018 to 2020 did Fourniret confess to killing Parrish, Domece and Mouzin.
Richard Delgenes, Monique Olivier’s defense attorney, said she would take the stand and speak at the trial, although the family’s lawyers believe the grim details of the crime are already known and are in the inquest files. Didier Seban, a lawyer for the Parrish and Mouzin families, said that they hope that Olivier will be judged as a “co-author of their misfortune” and will not be considered merely an accomplice of her late husband.
Joanna’s parents Roger Parrish and Pauline Sewell will be present during the second week of the trial, during which Olivier will be questioned over the young woman’s murder. – We already know many details, but the families want a conviction, Seban said. The Fourniret case revealed “serious errors and failures” in the French legal system, he said. – The police did not follow him (Fournireta – ed.), but they should have done so – he added.
Mouzin’s father, Eric, who has been fighting for justice for 20 years, also sharply criticized police for not linking Fourniret to the disappearance of his daughter and the other women. He said he had no expectations for Olivier’s appearance in court. – I don’t expect anything from her. Putting yourself in the position of asking for something means doing further harm to yourself. I try to keep my distance, he said.
Corinne Herrmann, a lawyer for the Marie-Angèle Domèce siblings, said the trial showed that “it is never too late for justice and answers.” “They are still in pain, so it is important that they are able to meet the accused in person and hear that person explain what they did,” she added.
Unfortunately, Claude Domece, Marie-Angele’s father, will never know where his daughter is buried, even if Olivier reveals it in court. He died a week ago at the age of 95.
Main photo source: GettyImages