Michel Fourniret: Ogres of the Ardennes

Fourniret liked to go for drives with his wife by his side and with their baby son safely in the back of their van. What differentiated this family from any other was that their road-trips ended in the rape, mutilation and murder of virgins.

Fourniret liked to go for drives with his wife by his side and with their baby son safely in the back of their van. What differentiated this family from any other was that their road-trips ended in the rape, mutilation and murder of virgins. The media called Fourniret, the ‘Ogre of the Ardennes’. Though his crimes were huge, the man police arrested was small, grey-haired and bespectacled.

Michel Fourniret was born in 1942 in Sedan, France, near to the Belgium border. His father was a metal worker and his mother, a farmer’s daughter. Michel was a quiet child with a slightly above average IQ who liked chess and classical music. But as an adult, Fourniret struggled to hold down a job. Forestry worker and school supervisor were some of the many jobs he tried and failed. But it was his string of convictions that revealed his true vocation. His first arrest, in 1966, was for child molestation. It ended his first marriage. He fathered three children with his second wife but this marriage also ended after he was again arrested for the rape and indecent assault of minors.

It was while he was in custody awaiting his trial that he placed an advert in a Catholic magazine asking for a pen-pal. Monique Olivier, a nurse and mother of three, replied. As a child she had suffered from a stammer and as an adult she had suffered from a series of physically abusive relationships. Olivier promised to help Fourniret ‘hunt virgins’ if he helped kill her former husband. Only one part of that bargain would be fulfilled.

Amateur psychologists might speculate that Fourniret’s obsession with virgins was related to his problems with premature ejaculation. Only virgins would lack the sexual experience necessary to criticise his condition. What is known is that it was part of Olivier’s duties to physically inspect the victims prior to Fourniret raping them to ensure they met his criteria.

Olivier, his ‘bloody muse’, was waiting for Fourniret at the prison gates when he was released in 1987. He was let out early because he had been a ‘model prisoner’. Two months later, the killing spree started.