The Crow and the Unsolved Murder of Grégory Villemin


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.


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.


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.”


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.

UPDATE: (7/27/17)

In June 2017, Grégory Villemin’s great aunt and uncle, Jacqueline and Marcel Jacob, were charged with his kidnapping. Based on handwriting analysis of The Crow’s letters, police believe that the Jacobs are the culprits. It seems jealously was the motive, although Marcel Jacobs’ lawyer has said that there isn’t any material proof against the couple. I’ll continue to add updates as more information becomes available.

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The Mysterious Suicide of French Politician Robert Boulin

Robert Boulin.

Robert Boulin.

On October 30, 1979, the body of Robert Boulin was found in a pond in the forest of Rambouillet in southern France. Boulin, a Gaullist politician and veteran of the French Resistance during World War II, had not been seen since the day before, when he had gone out to lunch with his son. His car and an empty container of barbiturates were found near his body. Inside the car were some letters declaring his intention to kill himself.

A note he wrote to police, dated the day of his death, was received a few days later. Boulin wrote, “I have decided to drown myself in a lake in the forest of Rambouillet, where I enjoyed horse-riding.”

The autumn of that year, Boulin was embroiled in a real-estate scandal in which he illegally acquired five acres of land in the Rambouillet area. At that time, Boulin was the Minister of Labor, and was well on his way to becoming the next prime minister. The revelation of the scandal in the press, however, harshly tarnished his political career and reputation. According to the official account of his death, Boulin was so devastated that it drove him to suicide. The authorities closed the case quickly, attributing his death to drowning.

The spot where Boulin's body was discovered.

The spot where Boulin’s body was discovered.

Boulin’s family has publicly denied this. They’ve pointed out that the water he was supposed to have drowned in was only a foot-and-a-half deep. Furthermore, as was only recorded in a second autopsy that was conducted in 1983, there were “bruises around his wrists and a blood clot behind his head.” The judge in charge of the case asked for Boulin’s lungs to be checked to confirm that they contained water, but the jars storing the lungs inexplicably disappeared. Boulin’s family believe that his death was the result of foul play, and have accused his former Gaullist colleagues of plotting and covering up the murder.


After years of keeping quiet, the local policeman who first saw Boulin’s body came out publicly in 2011 with some new information. The officer, Francis Deswarte, reported that Boulin’s head was out of the water, and had red marks all over his face. Deswarte said that he was dismissed from the case only a half-hour later. Two or three months passed, and he was then called in for questioning by federal police, who ordered him to keep quiet about what he saw. When he asked about the red marks, they told him that Boulin’s body had been dropped by the firefighters who were taking it out of the water, despite that Deswarte himself saw the body being removed without a problem.

In light of this new information, no new investigation has been opened.

This article originally appeared on Bizarrepedia, a site full of interesting articles about serial killers, unsolved crimes, and other strange things.

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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The 1965 Maurice Masse UFO Incident

Maurice Masse.

Maurice Masse.

On July 1, 1965, at approximately 6 AM, Maurice Masse was getting ready for work on his farm in Valensole, France when he heard a strange noise coming from his lavender field. Masse assumed it was one of the military helicopters that would sometimes land on his property. Worried that the helicopter might be crushing his lavender, he made his way over to the field and intended to tell the pilot to park someplace else. Rather than a helicopter, however, Masse stumbled upon an egg-shaped vehicle about the size of a car. It stood on six thin legs, sitting about 200 feet away from him. He noticed two small boys, about four feet tall, standing near the craft, apparently observing the lavender.

Picture by Michael Buhler of the Maurice Masse UFO encounter.

Picture by Michael Buhler of the Maurice Masse UFO encounter.

As Masse began to walk closer to confront them, he realized that the two figures weren’t boys. They weren’t even human. Dressed in green one-piece suits, the creatures had abnormally large and bald heads, no lips, pointed chins, pale skin, and small hands. One of the creatures suddenly turned around and pointed a small tube at Masse, blasting him with a light that paralyzed him. They stared at Masse for about a minute, communicating with one another by low, guttural grunts. A door then slid open across the craft, and the two mysterious beings disappeared into it. After the door closed, the craft took off into the sky, out of Masse’s sight.

Lavender farmer Maurice Masse encounters a landed UFO and its occupants on his land early in the morning ; they paralyse him by pointing 'ray- guns' at him - Date: 1 July 1965

Masse was paralyzed for 15 minutes before he could move again. After checking to inspect the marks the craft’s legs had made on his lavender, he rushed to town and told a cafe owner what had happened. It wasn’t long before the story hit the media and authorities, and Masse’s farm soon became infested with tourists. UFO investigators took samples of the lavender and soil allegedly touched by the craft, and Masse freely talked to them about his experience.

Picture of where the craft is said to have landed.

Picture of where the craft is said to have landed.

He said that he wasn’t afraid at all during the encounter and paralysis, and believed that the creatures had no desire to hurt him. Masse did, however, refuse to elaborate on the psychological and physical effects he felt afterward. He did admit to feeling extremely sleepy during the first few weeks, sometimes sleeping up to 12 hours a day. In particular, there was one big detail of the encounter that he refused to discuss with anybody.“Nobody will make me tell it,” he is reported as saying. His wife later said in an interview that he constantly thought about the creatures, and “considered his encounter with them a spiritual experience”. Whatever else he saw, Masse took it to the grave with him, dying on May 14th, 2004.

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Omar Killed Me

Ghislaine Marchal

Ghislaine Marchal

On June 24, 1991, a Monday, 65-year-old affluent widow Ghislaine Marchal was found dead in her home in Mougin, France. Marchal suffered a broken skull, a slit throat, a sliced finger, and multiple stab wounds. Her body had been discovered in her basement, the door of which had to be knocked down because somebody had barricaded it from the inside with an iron bar and bed. Across the door, scribbled in blood, was“Omar m’a tuer”, a grammatically incorrect phrase that meant “Omar killed me”. There was a similar message near-by, although incomplete, and police also found a bloody handprint.

The bloody accusation found on the basement door.

The bloody accusation found on the basement door.

Despite that all this blood was later confirmed to be Marchal’s, her body was found on the other side of the room. The authorities were baffled; how did she get from the door all to way to the spot where she had died without dripping a trail of blood behind her? The floor was completely clean. Almost nearly as strange, how did an educated woman like Marchal make such an elementary grammatical mistake in writing her message?

The autopsy determined that Marchal had been killed the day before, after talking to a friend around noon. Her gardener, an illiterate Moroccan named Omar Raddad, was usually at her house on Sundays, but had earlier changed his schedule. He claimed to have been eating lunch at home during the time of the murder, but only family members could confirm his alibi. His case caused an uproar in France, with his supporters arguing that he was an innocent man being accused simply because he was an immigrant. The authorities pinned him with a first-degree murder charge, and he went to trial in January 1994.

Omar Raddad.

Omar Raddad.

The prosecution argued that Raddad stabbed Marchal to death after getting into an argument with her over his pay. They had no solid evidence, however, and nobody reported seeing Raddad even near Marchal’s home the day of the murder. Raddad, furthermore, had no criminal record, and was a hard-working, honest man by all accounts. As for the message, graphologists were certain that it was Marchal’s handwriting. Still, despite the weakness of the prosecution, Raddad was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

After pressure from the Moroccan King, the French president eventually pardoned Raddad in 1998, but the murder conviction was still left on his legal record. Raddad has spent the past 17 years fighting to clear his name, even applying for a new trial after his release. Forensic tests conducted in 2001 found a male’s DNA on the basement door and a block of wood suspected of being used to hit Marchal. These strains didn’t match Raddad at all, and almost certainly had to belong to Marchal’s real killer.


The Drummond Family Murder Mystery

Sir Jack Drummond and his wife and daughter.

Sir Jack Drummond and his wife and daughter.

Sir Jack Drummond was a notable British biochemist known for his research on vitamins and nutrition. During World War II, Drummond served the British government’s Ministry of Food, and helped design the rationing diet the government implemented during the time. After the war, he stopped working for the government and became the Director of Research at the Boots pharmaceutical company.

In July 1952, Drummond, his wife Ann, and their 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth went on a family holiday on the French Riviera. On the night of August 4th, they camped out by the banks of the Durance river in Provençal, a region in southern France. The following morning, Gustave Dominici, a son of the nearest family that lived in the area, discovered Elizabeth’s body near the river. Her skull had been battered in by a rifle butt. Drummond and his wife’s bodies were found near-by. They had been shot, but as their autopsies would show, by two different weapons. Parts of one of the guns used to kill them was found in the river. It was identified as a Rock-Ola M1 Carbine, a model popular with the American military. Gustave alerted a cyclist passing by, and police arrived on the scene about a half-hour later.

Gustav and his family gave conflicting reports about their contact with the Drummonds the night before. They said they heard gunshots around 1 AM, but assumed they had come from poachers. After a relative reported to the police that he saw Ann and Elizabeth at the Dominici farm the night before their murder, the family’s story fell into further doubt. After being questioned again, Gustave and his brother Clovis admitted that their father, Gaston, killed the Drummonds. Gaston, a frail 75-year-old illiterate farmer who used a walking stick to get around, eventually confessed to the crime. He said that he and Ann had been caught having sex by Sir Drummond, and in a panic shot them both. He then found Elizabeth and beat her to death as she tried running away.

Despite retracting his statement later on, claiming he only confessed to try to protect his family, Gaston was found guilty and sentenced to death. A great protest was made over his conviction, and he was eventually pardoned and released by President Charles De Gaulle in 1960.

Gaston’s absurd confession got a number of things wrong about the crime scene. He was very likely innocent, and his family continues fighting to this day to clear his name. They point out that the rifle found in the river wasn’t Gaston’s, and he had no idea how to use one. Secondly, other locals who passed by the area that night the Drummonds went camping reported seeing several men near the their car, none of whom resembled Sir Jack or Gaston and his sons. Lastly, Drummond’s camera was missing, and has never been found.

Gaston’s grandson, Alain, believes the Drummonds were killed by KGB agents. Investigator Raymond Badin finds this idea credible as well, believing Drummond was on an espionage mission for the British secret services. “The Dominicis’ strange behaviour indicates they knew a lot more about the crime than they ever let on,” Badin told The Guardian in July 2002, ‘But they were not guilty of the murders. I think they plainly got caught up in something far bigger than themselves.’


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