The Crow and the Unsolved Murder of Grégory Villemin

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Picture of Gregory Villemin.

For several years in the early 1980s, an unknown man repeatedly harassed and threatened Jean-Marie Villemin and his family in hundreds of letters and phone calls. The man, nicknamed Le Corbeau (“The Crow”) by the media, especially hated Jean-Marie. The Crow not only knew tiny details about Jean-Marie, like how he was a factory foreman, but also intimate family secrets. “Every single word we said at home,” remarked a relative to the media, “he knew.”

On the afternoon of October 16, 1984, Jean-Marie’s 4-year-old son Grégory went out to play in front of the family’s rural home in Vosges. A half-hour later, The Crow called up Grégory’s uncle and boasted of taking the little boy and putting him in the Vologne river. Police launched a massive search effort, finding Grégory’s body, his hands and feet tied up with rope, in the Vologne the same night.

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Gregory’s parents, Jean-Marie and Christine.

The next day, an anonymous letter that had been sent the day before arrived for Jean-Marie. It read, “I hope you die of grief, boss. Your money can’t give you back your son. Here is my revenge, you stupid bastard.”

After taking handwriting samples from Jean-Marie’s family, police suspected that the murderer was one of his cousins, a 30-year-old man named Bernard Laroche. Laroche, it was suggested, had a grudge against Jean-Marie because Laroche was less financially successful and had a mentally-retarded son. Laroche was taken into police custody the next month, after his sister-in-law told police that she had seen Laroche driving with Grégory.

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Bernard Laroche, a cousin of Jean-Marie, was the initial suspect in the case.

The case seemed like it was just about solved, but Laroche denied having anything to do with Grégory’s murder. In February 1985, his sister-in-law admitted that she had only accused her brother-in-law because she was pressured by the police. Laroche was deemed innocent and let go. Jean-Marie, however, was not convinced. He openly announced to the media that he would kill Laroche, and sure enough, fatally shot his cousin a month later.

Jean-Marie was sentenced to five years in prison for Laroche’s murder. He told the authorities that it was revenge for Laroche killing his son. Laroche swore on his death-bed that he was innocent, and a few months after his death, another letter from The Crow arrived at Jean-Marie’s parents’ house. The killer was still on the loose, and vowed to “do the Villemin family in.”

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After the death of Bernard Laroche Christine Villemin was the next major suspect. She later wrote a book declaring her innocence.

 

Meanwhile, Grégory’s mother Christine had become the main focus of the investigation. Not only did her handwriting show some similarities to the letter sent the day Grégory was murdered, but she had been spotted at the post office that day too. Police also found cords like the ones used on Grégory in the Villemin’s basement. In July 1985, Christine was detained by the police, but later let go and freed of any charges.

In recent years, investigators have turned to DNA testing in an attempt to identify The Crow and Grégory’s killer. In a DNA test conducted in 2009 on the last Crow letter, investigators found the prints of a man on the letter itself, and another set of prints from a woman on the letter’s stamp. Neither set of DNA prints matched with Gregory’s parents, although some have dismissed the prints anyway, arguing that they could belong to anybody who touched the letter.

Some 30 years later, Grégory Villemin’s murder remains controversial and hotly debated. There are still people who believe that Bernard Laroche was the killer, while others insist that it was Christine Villemin.

The Kofu UFO Incident

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A drawing of the UFO and alien seen in the Kofu Incident. 

On February 23, 1975, second-graders Masato Kawano and Katsuhiro Yamahata were rollerskating in Kofu, Japan when they spotted two UFOs glowing orange in the sky. One of the UFOs took off northward, but the other one landed in a near-by vineyard. When the boys went to investigate, they found a large circular craft resting on three legs in the middle of the vineyard.

After the boys observed the craft for about five minutes, a door on the left side of the UFO slid open and a ladder descended out of the opening.  A brown human-like creature emerged and walked down the steps, while a similar-looking creature stayed inside. The creature, which stood at about 4 feet in a silver suit, had rabbit-like ears and three fangs. Its face was heavily wrinkled, and it appeared to have no eyes, nose, or hair.

The alien approached the boys and patted Katsuhiro two times on the shoulder. It was said to have made sounds that sounded like a tape-recorder being played backwards, although some sources report that the alien asked “Are you Katsuhiro?” in Japanese. Katsuhiro was so shocked that he couldn’t speak. He lost his balance and fell down out of fright, and the alien then walked away. Masato, who had watched from a distance, carried Katsuhiro on his back and ran home.

 

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Once they got home, the boys told their mothers about what happened and brought them back to the vineyard. The UFO was now hovering in the sky, glowing a bright orange light again. As it glowed brighter and brighter, it hovered in the air for about 2-3 minutes, until finally taking off in great speed.

Both Masato and Katsuhiro seemed very disturbed after the encounter. They refused to be outside alone, and Masato was so upset that he cried that night. The next day, the boys told their classmates and teacher about what happened.  During a lunch break, their teacher checked out the spot where the UFO landed, but found nothing out of the ordinary.

A later search of the landing site carried out with the help of a local newspaper found two broken concrete posts and several holes in the soil. Another teacher discovered that the soil was slightly contaminated with radiation.

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Masato and Katsuhiro show the spot where they saw the UFO and alien. 

 

The Japanese authorities, of course, were skeptical. Other than Masato and Katsuhiro, their mothers, and Katsuhiro’s younger brother, a classmate of the boys reported that he saw the UFO about a half-hour before his friends did. Later witnesses, including a janitor and a woman driving in the area, also said they saw the UFO.

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A toy of a villain in Ultraman that resembles the Kofu alien.

 

Critics believed that the sightings were a misidentified plane. They pointed out that only Masato and Katsuhiro had seen the alien itself. They thought it suspicious that the creature resembled an alien from the popular sci-fi show Ultraman. Finally, as the boys’ teacher had noted, there was nothing much out of the ordinary about the landing site. While there might have been some broken posts and a few holes in the ground, the vines in the field were completely fine. The radiation discovered, contrary to some reports, was low and probably natural.