Joanna Parrish ‘fought back’ serial killer before murder

Monique Olivier
Image caption,Monique Olivier, now 75, met serial killer Michel Fourniret in the 1980s and became his accomplice

By Steve Knibbs & Dickon Hooper

BBC News, Paris

The ex-wife of a serial killer told police a British student “fought back” during a violent assault by her husband, a court has been told.

Joanna Parrish, 20, was found dead in a river near Auxerre, in France in 1990.

Monique Olivier, who is 75 and already serving a life sentence, is on trial over charges of helping the late Michel Fourniret commit two murders, including Miss Parrish, and a kidnap.

Olivier later retracted the confession given in a 2005 interview with police.

In court on Wednesday she said that she admitted to “all the facts” of which she is accused.

The crimes date back to 1988 in the case of Marie-Angele Domece, who disappeared aged 18 from Auxerre, and 1990 for Miss Parrish.

The third charge is for complicity in the 2003 disappearance of nine-year-old Estelle Mouzin, whose body has never been found.

Fourniret was nicknamed the Beast of the Ardennes after he was convicted in 2008 of the murders of seven young women. In jail 10 years later, he confessed to also killing Miss Parrish and one other.

Olivier was also convicted in a 2008 trial, during which her role in aiding Fourniret’s murderous sex obsession was revealed.

Joanna Parrish
Image caption,Joanna Parrish had been working as an English teacher in Auxerre when she was murdered

The parents of Miss Parrish, from Newnham-on-Severn, in Gloucestershire, are due to give evidence in the case next week.

The court in Paris has been hearing from Francis Nachbar, the ex-prosecutor of the 2008 trial of Olivier and Fourniret.

He recounted how Olivier had told them during a police interview that her husband used her to reassure the victims and that they had tried to kidnap a girl at the station in Auxerre, but that had not worked.

She said they then went back a few months later.

Raped and killed

Mr Nachbar said they did not know about Miss Parrish then but that Olivier gave very clear and precise details about what she was wearing, what she was carrying and what happened to her.

She said that Miss Parrish “fought back” against Fourniret’s attack. Fourniret raped and killed her.

Mr Nachbar said that Olivier suddenly went very quiet and lowered her head during the interview and stayed silent for half an hour.

He said: “She was like a statue. I put my hand on her shoulder and said ‘Are you ok?’

“Another officer put two hands on her shoulders and said ‘Monique, stay with us’.”

The confession was later retracted, with Olivier saying she had been coerced into giving it.

In court, Mr Nachbar denied any implication that pressure was put on her.

Self-confessed French serial killer Michel Fourniret leaves Police Headquarters in Dinant 08 July 2004.
Image caption,Fourniret, pictured here in 2004, died in jail two years ago

Mr Nachbar said the hardest moment during the interview was when they asked Olivier what had happened to Miss Parrish after that.

He said she replied that “the body was thrown into a body of water”.

Miss Parrish’s body was found in the River Yonne, not far from Auxerre, the following morning.

Olivier’s retraction of the statement in 2006 was one reason why Miss Parrish’s case was not included in the 2008 trial of Fourniret and Olivier.

Mr Nachbar said the decision to not include Ms Domece – the other murdered woman – and Miss Parrish in the original trial was “not my decision”.

He said they wanted to deal with the “first circle of victims”, as some of their relatives were very old.

He said that Ms Domece and Ms Parrish’s cases were not ready and that everyone was in agreement that they would get to them in a “second circle” of cases.

“There was nothing more important than the victims’ families,” he continued.

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