A former police officer has been identified as one of France’s most notorious wanted serial killers after he pointed to his guilt in a suicide note.
François Vérove, a father-of-two, who died aged 59 after retiring from the Parisian police force, was found in a rented flat in the Mediterranean seaside resort of Le Grau-du-Roi on Wednesday.
In a letter found at the scene, he is said to have confessed to having been gripped by ‘past impulses’ which he claimed he brought ‘under control’.
According to French newspaper Le Parisien, the note ended: “I admit to being a major criminal who committed unforgivable deeds until the end of the 1990s.”
DNA evidence then matched Vérove with traces picked up at the scenes of several horrific unsolved crimes committed in the 1980s and 1990s.
They include the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, Cécile Bloch, in her apartment block in outer Paris in 1986, and the strangling to death of a couple in the city’s trendy central district of Le Marais.
At least five unsolved murders were linked to a suspect known only as Le Grêlé (‘the man with the pockmarked face’) after a sketch based on witness statements showed an acne-ridden male in his mid-twenties.
Vérove may have recently grown to suspect cold case detectives were finally starting to crack the case.
Evidence had pointed to the suspected killer being part of the Gendarmerie – armed military officers responsible for some aspects of law enforcement – in which the 59-year-old served before he became a police officer.
Investigators recently sent letters to 750 gendarmes who were stationed in the Paris region at the time of the murders – including Vérove.
He was summoned to give a DNA sample on September 24 but was reported missing by his wife three days later.
Vérove is now suspected of committing four murders and six rapes, including the 1994 killing of 19-year-old Karine Leroy in Meaux, east of Paris.
In his suicide note, he blamed his crimes on childhood problems and claimed he lost the urge to kill after meeting his wife and having kids, police sources told another local newspaper, Le Midi.
He is said to have written that he wanted to take his own life to protect his family from the blowback surrounding his crimes.
A lawyer representing the families thanked police but said there will undoubtedly be more.
Neighbours in La Grande-Motte – a town 15 minutes from where Vérove was found dead – said they were ‘lost for words’ at the revelation.
One told Le Parisien: ‘We used to chat over the wall separating our gardens. François was a sturdy bloke, very tall. He was helpful as anything.
“He would come round often to fix my wife’s computer. He’d get it sorted in a few minutes. This story is just unbelievable.”
Other locals known to Vérove said he always sported a beard, leaving no hint of the pockmarked face seen in the national press.
Meanwhile, his daughter, who has not been named, told Le Midi: ‘My mother was not aware of anything, we have nothing to say.’