The vir­gin hunters

How po­lice locked up this sick hus­ban­dand-wife duo

Chat - - CONTENTS -

There was a dis­tinc­tive pat­tern in a string of mur­ders com­mit­ted in the For­est of Ar­dennes from 1987 to 2001. The vic­tims, aged 12 to 30, were lured into a van by a cou­ple ask­ing di­rec­tions on the road­side or at rail­way sta­tions in the wooded bor­der re­gion be­tween France and Bel­gium.

They were kid­napped, bru­tally raped and killed – some suf­fo­cated, others shot or stabbed with a screw­driver.

In sum­mer 2003, Michel Fourniret, then 61, a car­pen­ter who’d never had a steady job, was ar­rested.

The sus­pected se­rial killer had pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions for sex­ual as­sault and rape in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Yet, he’d been freed early af­ter an­other rape con­vic­tion in 1987.

Within months, he and his fu­ture wife Monique Olivier had em­barked on a spree last­ing at least 14 years.

In May 2008, Fourniret was con­victed of killing and rap­ing seven women and girls and jailed for life with­out pa­role. He re­mains sus­pected of sev­eral others. Olivier, then 59, was con­victed of be­ing her hus­band’s ac­com­plice in four mur­ders and one rape, and jailed for life with a 28-year min­i­mum sen­tence.

The pros­e­cu­tion de­scribed Fourniret and Olivier as a ‘devil with two faces’.

But af­ter so many years, how did de­tec­tives catch them? We look at the case’s key mo­ments to find out…


By sum­mer 2003, Fourniret and Olivier were al­ready sea­soned killers, and they’d soon picked their next po­ten­tial vic­tim.

A 13-year-old girl, known only as Marie.

As she walked along a road in her Bel­gian home­town of Ciney, a white Citroen van pulled up be­side her.

The driver, Fourniret, asked Marie for di­rec­tions be­fore in­sist­ing she got in the ve­hi­cle to show him the way.

When she did, Fourniret pounced, tied her hands and feet, threat­en­ing to kill her as she screamed.

Only, as Fourniret drove off, Marie man­aged to gnaw through the ropes around her wrists.

When the van stopped at a junc­tion, she leapt out, and a pass­ing car took her to the po­lice sta­tion.

The quick-wit­ted driver had man­aged to get the van’s num­ber plate, lead­ing de­tec­tives straight to Fourniret.

Tes­ti­fy­ing dur­ing the trial, Marie said the or­deal made her feel like she was ‘in a film’.

‘He said to me “shut up or I’ll kill you; you must give me plea­sure and if you don’t, you won’t be go­ing home”.’


Monique Olivier met Fourniret in the mid-1980s when he was serv­ing time for rape. She’d replied to his mag­a­zine ad for a pen pal – and through their vile letters, the cou­ple formed a pact...

Olivier would find Fourniret vir­gins to sat­isfy his twisted ob­ses­sion – if he killed her hus­band.

Upon Fourniret’s early re­lease in 1987, Olivier was wait­ing at the prison gates.

He never mur­dered her first hus­band, but Olivier held up her end of deal, and they be­gan ‘vir­gin hunt­ing’ within months. They mar­ried in 1989.

Even when Fourniret was ar­rested in June 2003, she loy­ally kept quiet.

Only, the fol­low­ing sum­mer, no­to­ri­ous Bel­gian rapist Marc Dutroux was jailed for life for the kid­nap and rape of six young and teenage girls.

And Olivier was hor­ri­fied to dis­cover that Dutroux’ ex-wife Michelle Martin was handed a 30-year sen­tence for be­ing com­plicit in the deaths of two of Dutroux’ vic­tims and the ab­duc­tion of others.

Fear­ing the same fate as Martin, Olivier handed her­self in.

She told the po­lice ev­ery­thing, claim­ing she’d been ter­ri­fied and trapped by her vi­o­lent hus­band Fourniret.

Yet her at­tempt to save her­self back­fired – she un­wit­tingly handed de­tec­tives ev­ery­thing they needed to lock them both up for a very long time.


Af­ter his wife’s be­trayal, Fourniret con­fessed to nine killings be­tween 1987 and 2001. He then led of­fi­cers to two bod­ies he’d buried in the grounds of Sautou, a chateau he’d owned in north­ern France. They were Jeanne-Marie Des­ra­mault, 22, and Elisabeth Brichet, 12, who’d van­ished in 1989.

Fourniret’s state­ment was chilling: I needed to hunt vir­gins twice a year,

he wrote. When I knew that I was go­ing hunt­ing and that I would bring some­thing back, I dug the holes in ad­vance, three me­tres deep.

Fourniret and Olivier went on trial in spring 2008. He ad­mit­ted an ob­ses­sion with the ‘sym­bol of vir­gin­ity’, a re­sult of dis­cov­er­ing on his wed­ding night his first wife wasn’t a vir­gin like him­self.

Olivier would watch her hus­band rape and mur­der through a mir­ror in an­other room. Both were found guilty.

Yet pros­e­cu­tor Yves Charp­enel sus­pects Fourniret is re­spon­si­ble for more mur­ders.

‘He boasts he “hunted” two girls a year. So far, the num­bers don’t add up,’ Charp­enel says.

Michel Fourniret Short cap­tion

Mur­der weapons

Monique Olivier

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