For decades, the crimes of a notorious serial killer who terrified the French in the 1980s and 1990s haunted the Paris crime-fighting team.
But now, it is said that a former officer of the Gendarmerie Nationale (French Military Police), confessed before his death that he was the killer known as “Le Greelle”.
In his suicide note, the man, dubbed by French media as Francois V, said he was the killer whose crimes terrorized Paris in the 1980s and 1990s.
DNA tests have yet to confirm that the man is the wanted serial killer. But his admission may mark the end of one of France’s worst unresolved cases.
The killer was given his nickname, “Lo Greeley”, in reference to his acne-ridden face.
Among the horrific crimes attributed to him was the murder of 11-year-old Cecile Block. She was reported missing, after not attending school in Fontainebleau in 1986.
Her body was later found under an old carpet in the basement of the apartment building where she was living. Officials said she was raped, strangled and stabbed, and the case sent shockwaves across France.
Residents, including Block’s half-brother, Luke Richard, recalled seeing a man with blisters in the elevator on the day of the murder.
Richard, who helped police paint a picture of the suspect, described the man as looking “confident”.
“He said something to me like, ‘Have a very nice day,'” he recalls in an interview with the Sud West newspaper in 2015.
DNA evidence linked Block’s killer to other murders and rapes.
This included the murders of 38-year-old Giles Politi and his German wife Irmgard Muller in 1987.
Local media reports say he is also linked to the 1994 murder of 19-year-old Karen LeRoy, who was found dead more than a month after she disappeared while on her way to school.
As well as the cases of rape committed against a 26-year-old German woman, and two girls aged 14 and 11, the suspect reportedly identified himself as a policeman.
Le Grilli hung a picture of decades ago on the walls of the anti-crime unit of the Judicial Police in Paris.
Reports say that Francois V, was summoned for questioning in connection with the case and to give a DNA sample, but he did not appear.
His body was found on Wednesday in a beachside resort apartment near the southern city of Montpellier.
Although few details have been confirmed, Le Parisien reported that Francois V, aged 59, was a former member of the Gendarmerie Nationale, a police service linked to the French army.
Le Point newspaper reported that the man is married and has two children.
Reportedly, in his last message, he said his “life was not well” at the time of the murders, but he has “managed” since then.