The widow of one of France’s most notorious serial killers was “an active participant in all his crimes”, the father of murdered British student Joanna Parrish told a court in Paris on Monday.
In a testimony in the trial of Monique Olivier, Roger Parrish said his 20-year-old daughter had “the world at her feet” when she was kidnapped, raped and murdered in 1990 in Auxerre, by Michel Fourniret, who has been dubbed the “Ogre of the Ardennes”.
His ex-wife is standing trial in Paris accused of involvement in the murders by Fourniret of two young women, including Parrish, and a nine-year-old girl.
Fourniret died in 2021 aged 79 before he could be brought to trial for the three killings.
“Joanna’s story ended in May 1990. The bright, beautiful and talented 20-year-old with the world at her feet was never able to have the life she wanted or deserved,” Mr Parrish told the court.
“Her life was cruelly ended by a narcissistic psychopath and his female partner who was an active participant in all his crimes,” he said.
Olivier, now aged 79 and serving a life sentence issued in 2008, is on trial for aiding and abetting the abduction, rape and murder of Joanna and another woman, 18-year-old Marie-Angele Domece in 1988.
She is also charged with complicity in the disappearance of nine-year-old Estelle Mouzin in 2003. Parrish’s naked body was recovered from the Yonne River but those of the two other women have never been found despite intensive searches.
While she said last week that she admitted to “all the facts”, Olivier has also been evasive about her role, claiming that her former husband had “used” her to commit his crimes and denying any “criminal pact” between them. Written correspondence suggests she had pledged to find him virgins to rape if he killed her then husband – which he never did.
Wearing a tan jacket and roll-neck sweater, Mr Parrish, 80, occasionally paused to hold back tears, taking sips of water before going on in a steady voice.
‘No greater tragedy than losing a child’
He said: “We have always been a close family and never-ending devastation does not come close to describing the impact of Jo’s death on our family.
“There can be no greater tragedy than losing a child ... when those circumstances are a deliberate act of murder, it further adds to the disbelief, anger, trauma and sadness.”
Penchant for ‘perverse’ behaviour
Criminal experts have been divided on whether Olivier may have driven Fourniret to kill. Some have characterised her as the puppeteer who pulled the strings, possessed of a penchant for “perverse” behaviour.
Didier Seban, lawyer for the Parrish and Mouzin families, said last week that “when it comes to talking about her suffering and her difficulties, she is there”, but when it comes to talking about the events in which she participated, “she is less there”.
Fourniret himself said of Domece and Parrish in 2018 that “I am the only one responsible for their fates... If those people had not crossed my path, they would still be alive”.
The cases have been dogged for decades by slip-ups and delays in the justice system that plaintiffs blame for the failure to bring Fourniret to trial.
‘Predators’ of women could feel ‘protected’
Last week, Jean-Paul Bazelaire, a former judicial inspector said that the justice system in the Yonne département in Burgundy, where Ms Parrish was murdered had been appallingly defective from 1970 to 1990.
“The clearance rate for criminal cases” at that time in the department “was zero per cent, compared with 79 per cent nationally”, he told the court, adding that “predators” of women could feel “protected, covered”.
When these women disappeared “there was total silence”.
The trial continues.