The “Death to Pedophiles” Skull

Antibes, France.

Antibes, France.

On February 10, 2012, a professional diver looking for sea urchins off the resort of Antibes in southeastern France found something far grislier: a human skull. The skull, which was discovered on a seabed that was 10 meters (32 feet) deep into the water, had the words “Death to pedophiles” drawn on it, along with the scribbling of a shooting target.

The diver called the police, and several more dives in the area turned up a pair of arm bones, a leg bone, and part of a jawbone. Forensic tests determined that the bones had belonged to four different people, two men and two women. The skull was estimated to have been that of a 50-year-old man, and the rest of the bones, which were difficult to examine, might have come from people under the age of 30. It’s possible that the bones had been underwater for over a decade.

The upper arm bone discovered.

One of the discovered arm bones.

Authorities have launched an inquiry into cases of murder, kidnapping, imprisoning, and taking and receiving corpses. It’s believed that the bones belonged to the victims of a serial killer. Stephane Bourgoin, a criminologist and expert on serial killers, has suggested that the murderer lives in the area or knows it well.

Stephane Hirson.

Stephane Hirson.

Through further DNA tests, one of the arm bones was eventually identified as belonging to Stephane Hirson, a 17-year-old teenager from Paris who went missing shortly before his 18th birthday in February 1994. Hirson, who suffered from mental problems and had spent time in a psychiatric hospital, left his house without any money or personal belongings.

Some family members, however, were skeptical. One relative said in an interview with French radio that Hirson had no reason to be in southern France, and he had earlier told his mother that he was planning to go to Spain. Another DNA test was conducted, this time from the young man’s father, and the results determined that the bone wasn’t Hirson’s after all.

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