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DNA Evidence Confirms Identity Of French Serial Killer "Le Grêlé"

author

James Felton

Senior Staff Writer

clockOct 5 2021, 13:12 UTC
"Le Grêlé"

"Le Grêlé" has finally been identified. Image credit: Nic Neufeld/Shutterstock.com

The identity of the notorious French serial killer known as "Le Grêlé" has been confirmed as former police officer François Verove, following a DNA test on his body shortly after his death.

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Between 1986 and 1994, a number of murders and rapes took place in Paris, including that of an 11-year-old girl, Cécile Bloch, in 1986. On May 5, she was on her way to school when she was attacked in the elevator of the apartment building where she lived and forced to go down to the basement, where she was sexually assaulted and murdered before her killer disposed of her body in a roll of carpet in the basement. 

During the investigation, several witnesses described a 25-30-year-old man lurking in the building for up to an hour before Cécile set off for school. Cécile's half-brother Luc described a man he saw in the elevator as being tall and covered in acne or smallpox scars, which led to his nickname of "Le Grêlé" or "the pockmarked man". 

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Though the "pockmarked man" was considered a suspect in a number of crimes, he remained elusive, and the case went cold for decades. However, in September this year an investigating magistrate decided to focus on one area of investigation: During several rapes, including of a 14-year-old and 16-year-old girl, the man had told victims that he was a police officer. The magistrate sent letters to 750 gendarmes who served in Paris at the time the crimes were committed, asking for them to attend a DNA test, in the hopes of finding a match.

59-year-old François Verove, who served as a gendarme for years before becoming a police officer, received one of the letters on September 24, but failed to show up for his appointment to provide a sample. Three days later, his wife reported him missing.

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His body was found in a flat near Montpellier last Wednesday, having died of a suspected suicide. A note confessing to the crimes of Le Grêlé was found near his body. Following DNA samples taken from him, he can be linked to four murders and six rapes, though the true toll is likely to be higher.

"We won't ever know all the crimes Le Grêlé committed,"  Didier Saban, a lawyer representing the families of the victims told BBC News, though the revelation will no doubt bring closure to the victims identified so far. The DNA taken from Verove's body matched with several high-profile cases, including the murder of 19-year-old Karine Leroy in 1994, the torture and murder of 38-year-old Gilles Politi and 21-year-old au pair, Irmgard Müeller.

Investigators believe Verove used his position as a police officer to lure victims, while during attacks he likely used restraint techniques he had learned from his military or police training. 

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The full contents of the confession have not been released to the public.


  • DNA,

  • crime,

  • police,

  • murder,

  • serial killer

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