French former policeman's suicide note solves serial killer mystery

Francois Verove evaded capture for 35 years before being issued a summons last week

A retired French policeman admitted to being a serial killer in a suicide note left next to his body. AFP
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A retired French police officer has confessed to being a serial killer and rapist in a suicide note left beside his body.

Francois Verove, who had been wanted by police since the 1980s for a series of unsolved crimes against young girls, left behind a “written statement” before overdosing on medication, a source told AFP.

His remains were discovered in an Airbnb flat he had rented in Grau-du-Roi on the Mediterranean coast near Montpellier.

The death of the 59-year-old, nicknamed “Le Grele” or “the pockmarked one”, came shortly after he received a summons for questioning.

He is believed to have murdered four of his victims and raped six between 1986 and 1997.

Cecile Bloch, 11, who was raped and stabbed to death in the block of flats where she lived in the Paris region in 1986, is thought to be one of his victims.

Police believe he grabbed her as she came out of the building's lift on her way to school and dragged her into the basement.

Another girl of the same age was raped after being pulled from her bike in 1994, also in the French capital.

He is also thought to have strangled a couple to death in the central Marais district of Paris in 1987.

The list of crimes he allegedly committed includes attempted murder, armed robbery and kidnapping of minors, Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau said.

"DNA tests, which were immediately ordered by the investigating magistrate, established a match between the genetic profile found at several crime scenes and that of the dead man," she said.

During his policing career, Verove worked in an elite unit responsible for guarding the presidential palace and also as part of a team investigating paedophiles.

More than 750 retired members of the gendarmerie, France’s military police force, who were employed in Paris at the time of the attacks have been issued summons. Investigators looking into the decades-old cases had been convinced that the perpetrator would be found in the ranks of the police.

Verove earned his nickname after a photofit issued by police showed his pockmarked face. The illustration was created using descriptions from witnesses.

On September 24 Verove was issued a summons for questioning on September 29 – the day he was found dead. His wife had reported him missing on September 27.

The Midi Libre newspaper said he had been living quietly in a residential neighbourhood in Grau-du-Roi for years.

Updated: November 22, 2021, 8:59 AM