In the Grégory affair, the episodes have followed each other without looking alike for nearly 40 years, and everything seems possible, except, perhaps, the manifestation of the truth.
We count on the fingers of one hand the people who have been indicted for the murder of the little boy, found dead in Vologne one evening in October 1984. But then we have to fold up exactly the same number of knuckles: all were eventually discarded, for various reasons.
The first to benefit from the doubt, in the early stages of the case, was Bernard Laroche, who appeared as the main suspect during the first weeks of the investigation. But he was released on February 4, 1985.
His indictment has not yet been canceled, but Judge Lambert is no longer convinced of his guilt, especially since the reversal of his sister-in-law, Murielle Bolle, who accused the gendarmes of having extracted false statements from him during of stormy police custody. Jean-Michel Lambert wants to dig another track: that of the infanticidal mother.
After the Murielle Bolle fiasco, the gendarmes of Lépanges were removed from the investigation, and it is the SRPJ of Dijon which takes over the file at arm’s length. They are convinced of it: it is Christine Villemin who is hiding behind the murder of the little one. Why else would a mother have let her child play outside, even though the family had been threatened for almost two years by a vile crow?
New expertise will soon come to support them in their thesis.
The “little judge” has indeed appointed no less than six writing experts to analyze the famous letter claiming the crime, received by the Villemin parents the day after the murder. Murielle Bolle’s lawyer, Me Jean-Paul Teissonnière, recalls their conclusions at the time.
The day the expert reports are made public, Christine and Jean-Marie are in the car when a radio flash informs them of the results. “She is pregnant with twins. And there, she begins to lose blood so much she is shocked by what she hears on the radio, tells us Patricia Tourancheau, author of Grégory – La machination familial (ed. Seuil). Jean – Marie Villemin, therefore, takes him to the clinic, where she loses one of the two babies. He is in the height of despair, he is enraged and no longer knows which saint to devote himself to.
The same day, the father of the family would have gone to the grave of his son, swearing to avenge his death.
For their part, the couple’s lawyers are asking for a second opinion. The new experts come to the same conclusion: it is highly probable that Christine Villemin is the writer of the letter claiming the crime.
It is also rumored that the autopsy of the little boy was not carried out to the end, and therefore, that certain traces, in particular of blows or strangulation, could not be highlighted.
“This controversy over the autopsy was launched a little later, in particular to accredit the thesis which accused Christine Villemin of being the author of the murder of her son”, notes Étienne Sesmat, captain of the gendarmerie of Épinal, who led the investigation until February 1985.
“There had been theses in the air that Grégory drowned in his bathtub, it’s completely grotesque! While the autopsy had been done, and there was no trace of beatings, violence, he was shown to have died from a combination of hydrocution drowning and suffocation: when in the water he was conscious but he had certainly been suffocated, rendered unconscious just beforehand in some way or other ‘another… The autopsy was clear on that, it revealed things that we wanted, there was no problem on that side”, assures us the former gendarme.
But for the person who then took over the investigation in February 1985, Commissioner Jacques Corrazzi, something was wrong with the mother’s behavior: she was “too beautiful” for a bereaved woman. At least that’s what the former police officer confided to Netflix cameras in 2019, in the documentary Grégory, broadcast on the platform:
35 years later, the sequence, of an assumed sexism, did not fail to cause an outcry.
“Jean-Marie Villemin’s wife was not really the victim of rumors but above all of jealousy: she was sexy, well-dressed, elegant…”, comments Patricia Tourancheau for Planet.
In the family, she is nicknamed “the pimbêche”, and we do not find her motherly enough with her son. “She kissed him very little, unlike other mothers. She took advantage of every opportunity to give Grégory to Jean-Marie. […] She got rid of him.”, even Monique Villemin told the investigators.
Be that as it may, magistrate Lambert ordered, on July 5, 1985, the indictment of Christine Villemin, 24 years old. The young woman, pregnant, spent 11 days in pre-trial detention before being granted conditional release, pending her trial.
It does not take more, at the time, to make Christine Villemin the most suspected woman in France. Even Marguerite Duras pays into the lynching by publishing, on July 17, 1985, a tribune which causes a stir in Liberation, which she concludes with these words, remained in the memories: “Sublime, inevitably sublime”. The writer, in a way, accuses the mother while justifying her “crime” by patriarchal oppression and the trap of motherhood.
“It’s completely crazy, this media storm, everyone got involved! We dragged this mother through the mud, up to Marguerite Duras, we heard and saw huge and incredible things…”, regrets Étienne Sesmat.
“The police wanted to take the opposite view of everything we had done, to dismantle our work and show that we had it all wrong, and that the mother was guilty. And then, when Bernard Laroche was murdered, he didn’t She was no longer there, so it absolutely had to be her! They did everything to get her to confess,” adds the former policeman.
For this man, who rubbed shoulders with them closely, the Villemins lived through hell.
In December 1986, while her husband was in prison, awaiting his trial for the assassination of Bernard Laroche, Christine Villemin was sent back to an Assize Court for the murder of Grégory. The decision was however canceled in March 1987. But it was not until 1993 that the mother of the family was completely cleared, and that the justice ordered a dismissal for “total absence of charges”.
“Not one of the 36 charges accumulated little by little against her by the police in a sometimes dishonest way, not one has been retained by justice”, specifies Étienne Sesmat to Planet.
But the incessant buzz around the case is far from over.
The Villemin couple is not the only one to experience some waves in the Vologne valley. On the other branch of the family tree, Bernard and Marie-Ange Laroche are far from happy days. “It’s not really a love marriage,” says Patricia Tourancheau about the two lovebirds. However, in her book The Forgotten Tears of Vologne (ed. l’Archipel), the widow of Bernard Laroche holds a completely different discourse.
She writes that she met her husband through a mutual friend. “Thereafter, we saw each other again several times, but always in the presence of friends. Then, there was our first appointment face to face and the delicious confirmation that it was forever”, unpacks Marie- Angel. At their wedding, on May 8, 1976, the young woman was 19 years old, and Bernard had just celebrated his 21st birthday.
“He is renowned as a runner, and she too has had, I believe, other adventures”, reveals however Patricia Tourancheau, qualifying Bernard Laroche as “hot rabbit”. During a wedding, the latter would have even made advances to Christine Villemin, promised to his cousin. “He was kicking her under the table, he was teasing her and obviously she hadn’t followed up,” sums up the author.
An episode that Marie-Ange evokes very early in her book, when she details her second hearing before the gendarmes as part of the investigation for the murder of Grégory Villemin. She reports one of her exchanges with an agent, which would have taken place as follows:
Gendarme – Is it true that your husband made advances to Christine Villemin, while she was still engaged?
Marie-Ange Bolle – What is this story? But where do you get all this gossip?
Gendarme – It’s not a gossip, madam. It was Christine Villemin herself who reported the scene to us. Your husband allegedly kicked her under the table during a family meal. She would have rejected him and would have changed places so that he would leave her in peace. A man repulsed by a young girl can hold a grudge against her for life and do we know how far he can go to get revenge. Of course, if the story is true…
Marie-Ange Bolle – You are right to ask the question. I know my husband, I have complete confidence in him. I don’t believe a word of it. You never know what’s going through a woman’s head either.
With these words, Marie-Ange Bolle returns home, determined to confront her husband. In a burst of laughter, Bernard Laroche would have whispered to him: “If one day I cheat on you, it will be with a woman more beautiful than you. And, in my eyes, there is none”.
But here it is: these rumors are not limited to assuming that Bernard made eyes at Christine at a party. In the corridors of the SRPJ in Dijon, and soon throughout France, the murmur caused a stir: the two protagonists would have had an affair, making little Grégory one more bastard in the Villemin family.
“Some did not hesitate to smear Christine Villemin and my husband by murmuring that they had been lover and mistress and that Grégory was the fruit of this adulterous union, that they were accomplices in his death. By sacrificing him, they freed themselves of the fruit of their sin”, then articulates Marie-Ange Laroche in her book. Where could such a fabrication come from?
“In the investigation, precisely, this rumor was roughly explored, and the investigators went back to a driver who claimed to have seen Christine Villemin with Bernard Laroche at the exit of a wood”, explains Patricia Tourancheau.
“There were very, very thorough investigations to find this guy, and in fact it was the man who saw the bear, who saw the bear, who saw the bear… It was wrong On the one hand, that Bernard Laroche and Christine Villemin could have had a love affair, and a fortioriGrégory was not Bernard’s illegitimate child and the DNA analyzes proved it, “insists the journalist.
For his part, Thibaut Solano, author of La Voix Rauque (ed. Les Arènes) considers it plausible that the ramblings around the supposed affair are due to the investigators. “I would not be surprised to learn that they were propagated by the police, because they favor the Christine Villemin track, and in the event, it was in cahoots, perhaps, with Bernard Laroche”, examines- he.
“In this file there were plenty of rumors about other illegitimate children, and finally all the DNA analyzes that were done, sometimes post mortem, showed that each child grew up with his real parents”, adds Patricia Tourancheau.
In this kids where everyone is someone’s secret, gossip is rife. Among the theories that would clarify the motive for the crime of Bernard Laroche, some advance the good health of Grégory compared to that of his own son, Sébastien.
According to our information, the first child Laroche, four years old at the time of the events, was a source of discord within the couple. Seven months after Sébastien’s birth, the family’s pediatrician announced to the parents that their baby was suffering from a cyst in his right temple, preventing normal circulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the baby’s brain.
An anomaly caused, during childbirth, by the use of forceps to facilitate childbirth. Sébastien is condemned to live with a valve behind his ear and a catheter connected to the bladder. “For example, he won’t be able to enter kindergarten at 3 years old unlike Grégory, when they have what, a month apart? These difficulties mean that it still fuels problems, worries and disagreement within the couple”, reports Patricia Tourancheau.
His pride touched, Bernard Laroche was considered “very touchy” on everything concerning his son. So much so that at a family dinner, he and his wife do not speak to each other the whole meal. An electric atmosphere noticed by the other members of the table, including Ginette Lecomte, Michel Villemin’s wife.
Between two discussions, Ginette inquires about what is going on with Marie-Ange. The latter confides in her having expressed her desire to have a second child to her husband, who would have refused, telling her that he did not share this desire because she was not able to give him a “normal” one.
A version of the story that the mother of the family absolutely does not share in her book. On the contrary, Marie-Ange suggests a fulfilled husband and father, overjoyed at the idea of welcoming a new blond head to the Laroches. He wanted a little girl: it will be a boy, whom he will never know. Marie-Ange will give him the first name of his father, Jean-Bernard.
In the colossal Villemin family tree, no one is spared from slander, and kids are no exception to the rule.
From a very young age, Bernard Laroche has seen his identity be at the heart of all fantasies. There again, rumors of illegitimacy prosper: Thérèse, his mother, died in childbirth while giving birth to him and his father, Marcel, placed his education in the hands of his maternal grandparents, Léon and Adeline Jacob.
Bernard is very often taken in by Monique and Albert, where he spends his days personifying Thierry la Fronde with his cousins Jacky, Michel and Jean-Marie. “Bernard Laroche, he was a good guy. I still think so now. He was brought up by my parents. years”, confided, in 1985, Monique Villemin to Jean Ker in Paris Match.
When Marcel died in 1982, Monique Villemin cleaned up the family farm. “She discovers a letter that Thérèse, her sister, had written”, teaches us Patricia Tourancheau.
If no one really knows what this missive contains, it does not take long for it to become a pretext for new gossip.
“Obviously, Monique deduced suspicions about Bernard’s real father. But as I said earlier, all of this was analyzed and Bernard Laroche was indeed his father’s son”, continues the journalist. Thibaut Solano completes: “We don’t know what Thérèse wrote in it, it’s possible that it was words like: ‘If something happens to me, take care of Bernard…’ But the fact of not knowing what was inside that letter generated a lot of speculation.”
In the old orange farm of grandparents Jacob, Bernard also grew up alongside Marcel, his uncle. Years later, the two friends have remained very close, and they are even neighbors. “Jacqueline and Marcel Jacob lived next to Bernard Laroche, about 800 meters away, it was the house near the purple house, that of the Jacobs, they were on the heights of Aumontzey. They were very close and worked together at the factory”, explains Patricia Tourancheau.
And in the valley, the orange farm and the purple house are not the only mansions to harbor secrets.
Would violence have interfered in all the homes of Vologne? Among the Villemins, Albert’s bloodshed is well known, and his son, Michel, would in turn be brutal with his wife Ginette. Even Jacky would have one day raised his hand on his wife Liliane when the latter had just suffered a miscarriage, accusing her of having “intentionally lost the baby”.
It is said that among the siblings, only Jean-Marie and Christine, united and more “modern”, stand out from the marital pattern that seems to reign, at the time, in the region. “They are going to live in Lépanges, rather than Aumontzey, confides Thibaut Solano. It’s not far, but there is this symbolism of moving away a little, and even culturally they hang around a bit, they are in a consumer society Americanized in their references, it is as if the others, conversely, were condemning themselves to live in the ‘past'”.
But all is not rosy for the young couple. To believe that the weight of the heritage also crosses the feelings. One day, writes Patricia Tourancheau in her book, Jean-Marie and Christine argue violently, over a trifle. The husband launches to his wife: “You shut up or I slap you”! Christine retorts: “Go ahead!”. And the slap goes away.
The young woman wastes no time: she immediately packs her bags and sets sail. She won’t end up like her sister-in-law, her mother-in-law, and so many other women in the area.
For a whole afternoon, Jean-Marie, screwed up by remorse, looks for her everywhere in the village. He ended up finding her, two days later, at her mother’s house, in Laveline-devant-Bruyères. He excuses himself, and Christine returns. But she won’t come back twice if Jean-Marie raises his hand on her again.
In the Villemin family, the incident caused a stir, but not for the reasons one might imagine. The women of the clan are offended, in fact, that Christine took the fly for so little: there was really nothing to make a big deal out of a “little slap”. To believe that domestic violence is a ritual, obligatory, customary passage… Just like adultery?
The raven’s story on this subject, in any case, is crystal clear: the women are all unfaithful, and Vologne is a nest of “bastards”.
Everyone goes there: the children of Monique, Bernard Laroche, or even Jean-Marie Villemin were born out of wedlock, but also, more surprisingly… Michel Villemin’s son, Daniel. At the time, the toddler was 3 years old, like Grégory.
In an interview with Paris Match, in September 1985, Albert Villemin said: “To Michel, he had also said: ‘Your kid, it’s not from you, it’s from Popof (Laroche)’. And my son told him replied: ‘You are making a big mistake. My son, he is indeed a Villemin'”.
It is that the bird was perhaps aware of this “incident”, dating from 1979, mentioned by Thibaut Solano in La Voix Rauque. That evening, the family is reunited at Michel and Ginette’s. Alcohol flows freely, the atmosphere is festive. Michel Villemin, tired, goes to bed earlier.
Bernard Laroche would then have taken the opportunity to invite Ginette to dance. In the middle of their embrace, he would have whispered to her: “I love you… I have loved you for a long time”.
The young woman, disconcerted, would have ended up telling the scene to her husband a few days later. Michel, green with rage, would have decided to draw a line under his cousin, whom he nevertheless considered a brother. The falling out, however, didn’t last long, and the two friends eventually reconciled over several drinks.
During his hearing in police custody on October 31, 1984, Bernard Laroche mentioned the incident:
Bernard Laroche – At the beginning of the year, but I don’t remember the day, Michel Villemin came to see me. He was very upset because he had just received a phone call telling him that I was the father of his child.
Gendarme – What did you answer him?
Bernard Laroche – That I hoped he didn’t believe a word of it. And Michel Villemin replied that he had confidence in me.
Gendarme – Was there something between you and Ginette Villemin?
Bernard Laroche – Nothing, ever. Going back to the phone call, I think it was someone who must have known me well, since he said: “It’s Popof the father of his child”. I’m only known like that in the family. At work they call me “Cailloux”.
But the rumors have not finished tearing the family apart. In September 1985, the crow, silent since the day after the crime, resumed service, and sent a new letter to Albert and Monique Villemin.
“I’ll kill you again, to the Villemin family. Next victim: Monique.” can we read on the missive. It must be said that the matriarch is also at the heart of the intrigues, without anyone really knowing why.
Since its entry into service, the mysterious crow of Vologne has not ceased to point the finger at it. It distills, in any case, a fact: “the Monique” knows much more than she wants to reveal. The proof: she didn’t even dare to tell her son Jacky who her real father was.
For Patricia Tourancheau, “in the language of the crow, Monique is the whore, the marry-lay down there. There are a lot of sexual insults and company against Monique”.
Monique Villemin would be above all the guardian of the last secrets of the clan, and not the least. The common denominator to all the protagonists, to all the scandals. She spent her life defending all her children: Jacky, Michel, when they were accused by Jean-Marie of being behind the twisted actions of the crow.
She even supported Bernard Laroche, who was for her “like a kid”. And then, Monique is caught in the intertwining of a certain conflict of loyalty. She must also defend her clan, the Jacobs.
“She knows, but she’s afraid of the truth, your mother”, mocks the crow one day while exchanging with Jean-Marie.
After the indictment of their daughter-in-law, Christine Villemin, Monique and her husband Albert bring civil action. It is rumored that the stepmother would even have “jumped for joy” when she learned of the questioning of Grégory’s mother. The reverse is difficult to cash in for Jean-Marie, who moves away from his parents.
During his own trial, for the assassination of Bernard Laroche in 1993, he urged his parent in full hearing to remove the mask, and to confess everything. She will swear that she has nothing to say, that the family already knows everything. Really ?
“I think that Monique knew certain things regarding Grégory’s crime, she could have made certain revelations, but she did not do so for reasons that belong to her”, declared Me Thierry Moser, lawyer for Christine and Jean. -Marie Villemin, to AFP in 2020.
Her secrets, whatever they may be, followed her to the grave. Monique Villemin died of the consequences of Covid-19 on Sunday April 12, 2020 at the Baccarat nursing home (Meurthe-et-Moselle). She was 88 years old.
Several pairs of eyes have also been riveted on another couple since the start of the case, even if it took many years before justice took a serious interest in them. They are the Jacobs: Marcel, brother of Monique Villemin, and his wife, Jaqueline. They live on the heights of Aumontzey, a few meters from Laroche.
In the family, we know that Marcel, the strong man, does not carry Albert in his heart. And obviously, the trade unionist is not among the admirers of the “prodigy” son, Jean-Marie either.
In 2017, they are above all at the heart of a deus ex machina which ignites the press and unleashes passions again, 33 years after the murder of little Grégory.
In June of that year, the Jacob spouses were indicted for “kidnapping” and “kidnapping followed by death”. Jacqueline is suspected of being behind some of the crow’s writings, and it is thought that the motive for the hate crime lies in the tenacious resentment that Marcel harbored against the Villemin men. And then, the couple was very close to the Laroches: the scenario of a multiple crime is emerging.
In the media, it’s the big unpacking. We are trying to find out who these two figures are, who have so far remained in the shadows of the affair, and we are unpacking rumors about their private lives.
Marcel and Jacqueline, 72 years old in 2017, would have first been angry with their only daughter Valérie for obscure reasons. The latter will testify in the press, recounting her childhood with secretive and authoritarian parents, followers of swinging… and absent.
In 1991, Jacqueline would have left the marital home to coo with a lover. She ends up coming back. According to his daughter, convinced that the parents share a heavy secret that makes them inseparable, Marcel could have blackmailed her to get her back.
Bullshit, for Me Frédéric Berna, Jacqueline Jacob’s lawyer.
Swingers, maybe, but guilty?