Joanna Parrish's family leave court as killer's widow describes murder

‘What we did was monstrous’: Ogre of the Ardennes victim’s family walk out of court as killer’s widow gives first graphic account of how Joanna Parrish was murdered by monster who ‘wanted to have some fun’

  • Olivier recalled how the ‘Ogre of the Ardennes’ grilled Joanna about her sex life
  • Parrish’s parents and boyfriend left after hearing the graphic testimony

Joanna Parrish’s parents walked out of a Paris court yesterday as the ‘Ogress of the Ardennes’ gave the first graphic account of her murder.

Previously unknown details revealed by Monique Olivier were so distressing that – after two terrible hours – Roger Parrish, 80, and his ex-wife Pauline Murrell, 75, could bear to listen no longer.

Patrick Proctor, the 20-year-old student’s steady boyfriend when she was killed in 1993, and her aunt, Pauline Harris, 77, also left the room. They had heard Olivier admit that she acted as ‘bait’ to lure Joanna into the back of a van – ‘it was like a game of chess’ for her husband, serial killer and ‘Ogre of the Ardennes’ Michel Fourniret.

Olivier, who is on trial for her part in a kidnap and two murders, including that of Joanna, ignored the young woman’s desperate screams as she tried to fend off the punches rained down by Fourniret. The family’s torment was exacerbated when Olivier recalled how Fourniret, who had a perverse obsession with defiling virgins, grilled Joanna about her sex life. 

‘He asked her if she had a boyfriend,’ she told the court. ‘It must have annoyed him when she said she had, because (to him) it meant she was not a virgin. In sexuality he always wanted to be the first. That’s why he was violent and did what he did.’

Roger Parrish, 80, and his former wife Pauline Murrell, 75, left the court room (both pictured)

Joanna Parrish (pictured) was grilled about her sex life by the ‘Ogre of the Ardennes’ – who had a perverse obsession for defiling virgins 

Self-confessed serial killer Michel Fourniret arrives at the court hall in a police car, on March 28, 2008 at Charleville-Mezieres’ courthouse

By refusing to attend the late morning session, the travelling Parrish contingent were spared from sitting through the most harrowing part of the proceedings.

READ MORE: Boyfriend of Ogre of Ardennes victim Joanna Parrish speaks for the first time of their relationship as he tells court his horror at learning what the killer did to the Brit during 1990 rape and murder

It came when lawyer Didier Seban tried to prick Olivier’s conscience by confronting her with photographs of Joanna. Projected on to a screen, the first images showed the carefree young woman enjoying a day out in Paris and posing demurely.

Thrust into Olivier’s veiny, shaking hand, the second set reminded her how her victim looked after her bruised and bloated body had been fished from a river.

‘Look at her. Do you recognise her?’ asked Mr Seban contemptuously. ‘What effect does that have on you? What do you say to that? What can I tell the parents of Joanna?’

It was the closest the stone-faced 75-year-old woman in the dock came to breaking. ‘It’s not possible,’ she muttered, shaking her head.

‘She was beautiful. She deserved to live. I truly regret it. Because of me she is gone. It’s unforgivable.’

He voice trailed off as she added: ‘If it had been my daughter, I think I would have done something. I would have looked for …’ Olivier said Joanna eventually realised the van was travelling the wrong way and tried to open the doors. It was then that the attack started.

She claimed to remain haunted by the faces of all their victims, but said it was the smiling image of Joanna, as shown in court, that had ‘marked’ her most profoundly.

‘I would prefer … not to have all these horrors in my mind,’ she said.

Olivier was pregnant with their son when they killed their second known victim, Marie-Angele Domece, 18, whose body has never been found.

‘You were going to give life to somebody,’ remarked Mr Seban.

‘Yes and I helped to take a life away,’ she replied. ‘It’s monstrous what we did, but it’s too late now.’

A 1992 photo of Monique Olivier, who fell in the arms of a serial killer with whom she struck a macabre pact: he would kill her first husband if she satisfied his lust for virgins

Monique Olivier (pictured in court on November 28) admitted she acted as ‘bait’ to lure Joanna into the back of a van, then ignored the young British woman’s last desperate screams

Joanna (pictured in 1988) advertised her services as an English tutor in the paper and Fourniret phoned her up and set up a meeting

Another dramatic day began with Judge Didier Safar reminding Olivier, who cut a shambolic figure in a grubby sweatshirt, that relatives of Joanna and two other murdered girls had come to hear her ‘explain yourself, free your conscience’.

READ MORE: Father of ‘Ogre of Ardennes’ murder victim Joanna Parrish says the family ‘are traumatised to this day’ as he goes face to face with the killer’s widow at her trial over the Briton’s 1990 death 

Poking her prominent nose through a gap in the bulletproof screen to make herself heard, she at first frus- trated the court with mumbled replies and claims that she couldn’t remember events 30 years ago.

Gradually, however, the full horrific story emerged. It became clear that Joanna fell into the ogre’s clutches through catastrophic coincidences.

In May 1990, when she was coming to the end of a year-long teaching assignment in Auxerre, Fourniret and Olivier had already begun their husband-and-wife murder spree that claimed up to 35 lives. The couple had moved to the French Ardennes but returned that month to collect furniture from their former home in a village near Auxerre.

While they were on the trip, Olivier said sickeningly, Fourniret decided to ‘have some fun’.

As was their habit, they cruised the streets for suitable targets. Fourniret would also scour newspapers and billboards for small ads placed by vulnerable girls, and by chance

Joanna had just advertised her services as an English tutor.

Pretending he wanted her to teach their son, Selim (then only 18 months old), he phoned her. A meeting was fixed for around 7pm in central Auxerre.

Joanna was so excited at the pros- pect that she had no hesitation in climbing into the back of the couple’s white Citroen.

Fourniret later told police that – but for his wife’s presence – Joanna would not have got into the vehicle and would still be alive.

Explaining her husband’s maniacal compulsion, Olivier said: ‘He told me it was like a cavalry charge in his head that forced him to go off hunting (virgins).’

Were you the dog who found his prey, Mr Seban asked her? ‘Yes, if you want to put it like that,’ she replied wretchedly.

Insisting she was acting under Fourniret’s influence, she added: ‘I deserve to be in prison because I helped him do all these terrible things. I should have done what I needed to do (to prevent the attack on Joanna). But I was scared of him and scared of what was happening. Fear and panic stopped me.’

Mr Seban snapped back: ‘Don’t tell us that you were the victim!’

Olivier (pictured in 2008) ignored Parrish’s screams as she attempted to fend off the punches rained down by her husband, serial killer Michel Fourniret

A picture taken in 1990 of Joanna Parrish (L) and her brother Barney in Paris

Olivier said Fourniret had intended to kidnap Joanna and take her back to their home in the village. For some unknown reason, however, his plans changed. They drove around for about an hour seeking a quiet place, then he tied her up, raped her and strangled her before flinging her body in a river.

Denying equal culpability in the case of Joanna, Olivier, who is already serving life with a minimum of 28 years for four other murders, insisted: ‘It was obedience – not pleasure.’

The court heard 35 young women and girls may have been killed even though the Ogre was convicted of only eight. He died in 2021, aged 79. The trial continues.

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