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Serial killer's widow admits her role in British student's rape and murder: "I was bait"

The widow of a French serial killer known as the "Ogre of the Ardennes" on Tuesday admitted she was "bait" in the 1990 rape and murder of British student Joanna Parrish by her former husband.

Confronted with images of Parrish's swollen face after her body was pulled from the river Yonne, Monique Olivier said: "It's because of me she's gone, it's unforgivable."

She remained silent in the glass-screened dock for long moments as she looked at the pictures, before pushing them away with a trembling hand.

Olivier is on trial for her role in three kidnappings and murders by her late husband Michel Fourniret and her role in rapes and attempted rape in two of the cases.

On "hunts" with her husband, Olivier said during cross-examination: "I was the dog, I was never anything but the dog that must obey" its master.

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. Lawyers for the husband and wife on trial in the kidnapping, rape and murder of seven girls in one of France's biggest serial killing cases have said they wouldn't appeal if a court convicted the couple. AP Photo

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

Now 75 years old and serving a life sentence issued in 2008, her case deals with the abduction, rape and murder of 20-year-old Joanna Parrish in 1990 and 18-year-old Marie-Angele Domece in 1988.

Olivier is also charged with complicity in the disappearance of nine-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 in the French department of the same name.

Olivier recounted how she remained in the front seat of the couple's car when Fourniret climbed into the back to kill and rape Parrish in May 1990.

"Like a coward, I do nothing, I hear her scream a little but I don't intervene. It's fear, panic, (I am) unable to do anything at all," she said.

The Parrish family had left the courtroom on Tuesday when Joanna's murder was discussed, staying away during Olivier's questioning.

"I can't manage to remember all of the details. I mix them up with other" killings, Olivier told judge Didier Safar.

Fourniret, who sought out virgins to rape and murder over nearly two decades, is believed to have answered a classified ad Parrish bought in a local paper offering English lessons — hoping to earn money to visit her boyfriend in Czechoslovakia.

Parrish's family, then-boyfriend and their lawyer had on Monday pressed the idea that the young woman would never have got into a car alone with a strange man to highlight Olivier's vital role.

"I was bait," Olivier acknowledged on Tuesday.

Roger Parrish (L) and Pauline Sewell (R)
Roger Parrish (L) and Pauline Sewell (R), parents of British student Joanna Parrish murdered 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

Fourniret himself, who died in 2021 before any trial for the three killings, said of Domece and Parrish in 2018: "I am the only one responsible for their fates... If those people had not crossed my path, they would still be alive".

Who were the victims?

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.

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 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

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

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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