A retired police officer has been identified as the serial killer behind a series of murders and rapes in and around Paris In the 1980s and 1990s, he used his police card, handcuffs and professional restraint techniques to stop young women and girls, but eluded captivity for decades until he committed suicide this week.
In one of the biggest reviews of cold cases in Paris police history, investigators have been searching for DNA evidence to identify the notorious serial killer and rapist known as the “Picked Man” who avoided capture for 35 years.
Cold-case investigators had recently limited their search to former gendarmes – military police officers – and summoned hundreds for questioning. But Francois Ferrov, 59, committed suicide in a rented apartment in the south of the country France This week after they were called for an interview. The state prosecutor posthumously confirmed that DNA from Ferrov, who worked as a police officer and a gendarme, matches several crime scenes. French media reported that he left a message saying he was not in good shape at the time of his crimes, but did not give details.
When investigators reopened old cases and linked different crimes, several factors indicated that the killer and rapist were either a member of the police or the gendarmerie. He had committed murder, rape, and attempted murder from at least 1986 to 1994 and was never arrested.
In one kidnapping and rape case, he showed his card to the police to force a lonely girl into his unmarked car. In at least three rape cases, he reportedly identified himself to women and girls as a police officer. He was said to know police terminology and use handcuffs. He has used elaborate techniques of restraint by the police or the military. His last known crime took place near the gendarmerie training center.
Among his victims was an 11-year-old girl who he believed stopped in her building elevator as she was leaving to go to school in 1986. She was raped, murdered, and found in the basement. Another victim was a 26-year-old German husband, who was assaulted and murdered in a Paris apartment. Its chief was found murdered near her and handcuffed using skilled police or military techniques.
DNA evidence was later extracted from the cigarette butt and the victim’s health protections were found at the crime scene but not matched with the perpetrator.
In a statement, the attorney general said there were “elements” leading cold-case investigators to focus on an individual who “was acting as a gendarme” at the time of the crimes. In recent months, an investigative judge has summoned 750 gendarmes who worked in the Paris region at the time of the attacks. One of them, a “59-year-old man living in the south of France,” who had been a policeman then a police officer and has since retired, was contacted on 24September and summoned for questioning five days later. Instead, he disappeared from his family home, rented an apartment, and was found dead this week.
French media reported that he left a note saying he was not in good shape at the time of the crimes but that he later “corrected himself”.
Didier Sepin, a lawyer for the victims’ families, told France Info: “We are convinced that he is a police officer or a gendarme, both through the violence he used against his victims, but also through his techniques – his way of presenting his three colors [police] card, a certain number of things the victims reported that he said… He knew all the police techniques.”
He said, “We will ask the justice system to continue the investigation, find out if he has accomplices and determine the number of victims. Families must have answers.”