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Victim's father gives emotional testimony at trial of serial killer's widow: "Trauma and sadness"

Family members of a British student murdered in France in 1990 gave emotional testimony to a French court Monday in the trial of the widow of serial killer Michel Fourniret, who kidnapped, raped and murdered the 20-year-old.

Monique Olivier is currently standing trial in Paris, accused of involvement in the murders by Fourniret of two young women, including the British student, Joanna Parrish, and a 9-year-old girl.

Monique Olivier, left, and her husband Michel Fourniret
Monique Olivier, left, and her husband Michel Fourniret, who were convicted of hunting for young virgins to rape and kill in crimes committed in France and Belgium from 1987 to 2003, are shown in 2008 file photos. AP Photo

Olivier is the families' only link to the truth of what happened to their loved ones, after Fourniret — who sought out virgins to rape and murder — died in 2021 at age 79 before he could be brought to trial for the three killings at issue.

"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," her father Roger told the court.

Wearing a tan jacket and roll neck sweater, the 80-year-old occasionally paused to hold back tears, taking sips of water before going on in a steady voice.

"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," he said.

Olivier, now 79 years old and serving a life sentence issued in 2008, is on trial for her part in the abduction, rape and murder of Joanna in 1990, and another woman, 18-year-old Marie-Angele Domece in 1988.

Last week, Olivier took the stand and admitted to "all the facts" in the case. 

Roger Parrish (L) and Pauline Sewell (R)
Roger Parrish (L) and Pauline Sewell (R), parents of British student Joanna Parrish murdured in 1990, arrive at Charleville-Mezieres courthouse to attend the trial of French serial killer Michel Fourniret, on April 16, 2008.  FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI/AFP via Getty Images

She is also charged with complicity in the disappearance of 9-year-old Estelle Mouzin in 2003, whose body has never been found two decades on despite intensive searches.

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.

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.

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."

Serial killer dubbed the "ogre of the Ardennes"

All of Fourniret's victims — most of whom were raped — were shot, strangled or stabbed to death, the BBC reported. Most were killed in the Ardennes region of northern France and in Belgium. Fourniret was dubbed the "ogre of the Ardennes" by media after the hilly region on the French-Belgium border where he lived and preyed on his victims.

Olivier fled in the early 1980s from her violent first husband, with whom she had two children, before becoming a pen pal of Fourniret while he was serving a jail sentence for rape. They allegedly sealed a pact that she would find him virgins to rape if he would kill her then-husband — which he never did.

The BBC reported that the couple's first known victim was 17-year-old Isabelle Laville.

The Case Of Michel Fourniret And Monique Olivier: Jean-Pierre Laville, Father Of Isabelle, The First Victim Of Michel Fourniret In Mulhouse, France On March 11, 2008.
Jean-Pierre Laville, father of Isabelle, the first victim of Michel Fourniret In Mulhouse, France on March 11, 2008. Pool DEMANGE/MARCHI/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

In 1987, Olivier pulled her van up to Laville when she was walking home from school, told the student she was lost and convinced her to get in the vehicle to help her with directions, the BBC reported. They later stopped to pick up Fourniret, who ultimately raped and murdered the teen, the BBC reported.

For 16 years, the couple worked together in the abduction and murder of at least eight girls and young women, the BBC reported.  They were finally stopped in 2003, when a 13-year-old girl Fourniret was trying to kidnap managed to escape, leading to his and Olivier's arrest.

The BBC reported that Fourniret's known victims were Isabelle Laville, Fabienne Leroy, Jeanne-Marie Desramault, Elisabeth Brichet, Natacha Danais, Celine Saison, Mananya Thumphong, Farida Hammiche, Marie-Angèle Domèce, Joanna Parrish and Estelle Mouzin.

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