Ex-wife of notorious French serial killer sentenced over murders

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Ex-wife of notorious French serial killer sentenced over murders
Monique Olivier, ex-wife of serial killer Michel Fourniret. (Photo by Miguel MEDINA / AFP)

A French court has sentenced the ex-wife of serial killer Michel Fourniret to life in prison for her role in three murders by her former husband.


After 10 hours of deliberations, Monique Olivier was convicted of complicity in Fourniret's murder of two young women dating back decades, including 20-year-old British student Joanna Parrish and a nine-year-old girl.

Olivier, 75, must serve a minimum of 20 years behind bars, the court ruled.

With her head lowered and eyes half-closed, the accused appeared impassive as she listened to the verdict.

"The sentence of life imprisonment is just, adequate, and in line with the extreme seriousness of the facts, where the involvement (of Monique Olivier) is total," said judge Didier Safar as he read the verdict.

She was convicted of playing a role in the abduction, sequestration and murder of Parrish and 18-year-old Marie-Angele Domece in 1988, aggravated by her role in the attempted rape of Domece and the rape of Parrish by Fourniret.

She was also convicted of playing a role in the 2003 abduction, sequestration and murder of nine-year-old Estelle Mouzin, whose body has never been found despite intensive searches.

Fourniret died in 2021, aged 79, before he could be brought to trial for the three killings, meaning the trial of Olivier is the last chance for the
victims' families to find justice.

Her former husband confessed to 11 murders before he died, but reports have suggested there could have been up to two dozen more.

"It is the end of a long fight for the families," said Didier Seban, a lawyer for the victims' families.

"For the families who waited so long, who fought so hard for such a verdict, it is obviously a decision that gives them satisfaction after a very demanding trial."

Olivier is already serving a life sentence issued in 2008 for complicity in four other kidnappings and murders committed by Fourniret. A decade later she was sentenced to a further 20 years for complicity in another murder.


Domece's remains have also never been found, while Parrish's naked body was recovered from the Yonne river in the French department of the same name. She had been beaten, drugged and raped.

"He used me," Olivier said about her husband on the trial's opening day.

The couple divorced in 2010.

Fourniret was known as the "Ogre of the Ardennes" after the hilly, densely forested region on the French-Belgian border where he was based and found many of his victims.

Prosecutors argued that Fourniret could not have killed so easily without Olivier's help.

She and Fourniret together had one son, Selim Olivier, who gave evidence at the trial last week, urging his mother to tell the court everything she knew.

Olivier expressed regret on the final day of her trial.

"I ask for forgiveness," Olivier said ahead of sentencing. "Although I know that what I did is unforgivable."

Olivier's lawyer Richard Delgenes said his client's "confessions - which absolutely do not cancel out her responsibility and her guilt - were recognised" by the court, noting that an even lengthier period could have been set before parole was considered.

Patrick Proctor, who was Joanna Parrish's fiance at the time of the murder, described the conviction as "long-overdue recognition by the French justice system that the accused is responsible for the murders".


He expressed regret that the police investigation at the time was "disjointed and unprofessional" and said the parties involved "will continue
to feel this loss for the rest of our lives".

"There it is, justice has been given," said Estelle Mouzin's half-sister Estelle Poisson.

"Twenty years - it is astonishing how long we've had to wait for an answer. But we finally hope that this verdict will gradually ease our suffering," she said.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors highlighted Olivier's strategy of gaining the trust of Domece and Parrish knowing they would be murdered, as well as her decision to remain silent about the killing of Estelle Mouzin.

She often claimed to "not know" or "not remember" when asked about specific aspects of cases, a stance that made it difficult for the court to shed new light on the circumstances of the victims' deaths.


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