One evening in January 1981, the telephone rang at Monique and Albert Villemin’s, in Aumontzey (Vosges). At the other end of the line, nothing, or almost nothing: a breath. The next day, the same maneuver is repeated. And then, the interlocutor becomes talkative. He seems to know the Villemins and their secrets well. It talks about Monique and her “bastard”, Jacky, another man’s child, and the suicide of Albert’s father. Presumably, the crow is after the Villemin men and women, but not all of them: he has his favorite targets (Albert, Monique, Jean-Marie and Christine Villemin) and his “proteges” (Jacky, Liliane, Michel…).
Soon, the couple’s third son, Jean-Marie, in his twenties, also attracted the wrath of the anonymous. The first time, the call is silent, or almost: Jean-Marie and his wife Christine only hear the popular song “Chef, un p’ti verre, on a thirst” in the handset.
It is that, at the time, Jean-Marie, who had become a very young foreman at the Autocoussin factory, stirred up some jealousies in his own family.
The “chief” and his wife soon become one of the crow’s obsessions. “Christine and Jean-Marie who had just moved into their new home in Lépanges. As soon as the phone was installed, the calls started. So it was first heavy silences, disturbing breaths. Afterwards they had the right to music like “a little drink, we are thirsty”, hummed by the hoarse voice”, reports Patricia Tourancheau, journalist and author of Grégory – La machination familial (ed. Seuil).
This is the beginning of a harassment that will go crescendo, until the drama. The crow persists: over the months, the various members of the siblings will receive hundreds of calls.
And the anonymous vengeful would not have stopped at the calls. “From memory, there were three intrusions, reports Thibaut Solano, journalist and author of La Voix Rauque (ed. Les Arènes).
Then, the following year, Jean-Marie’s tires will be punctured by a mysterious scoundrel. Finally, one evening when Christine’s mother, Gilberte Blaise, keeps Grégory at the couple’s home, she hears footsteps in front of the door of the pavilion, before seeing, through the window, a car start with a bang and leave the perimeter.
For the family, the evidence becomes glaring: the crow is no longer content to threaten, he is ready to take action.
“They think it’s weird, and they investigate for a short year before the cup is full and on November 30, 1982, Albert Villemin receives 27 anonymous calls, until the arrival of an undertaker at him. There, he lodged a complaint for violence and assault with the gendarmerie”, explains Patricia Tourancheau.
An investigation is opened, and the gendarmes push the Villemins to equip themselves with a tape recorder and install it near the handset: as soon as the “guy” calls them, all you have to do is press the recorder button.
As luck would have it, the calls stop, almost overnight. The proof, for Patricia Tourancheau, “that the crow is very close to the family, and that someone told him that the gendarmes were going to listen. So he stops, at least on the phone, and starts by sending a few anonymous letters,” explains the author.
In March 1983, a letter, slipped into the shutters of the house of Christine and Jean-Marie, in Lépanges-sur-Vologne, released this threat: “I will kill you for the Villemain family” [Sic].
Other messages will follow. In April 1983, Albert and Monique in turn received a letter in the form of a threat:
On April 24, 1983, Jean-Marie Villemin answered a call at his workplace. At the end of the line, the hoarse voice tells him that he intends to attack his wife. Deliberately provoking, the foreman replies: “I have money, I will find another kitty”. The bird insists: “I’ll go after your brat, it will hurt you more…”.
Jean-Marie’s reaction is without appeal. “You bastard, don’t try to touch the kid or you’re a dead man!” Says the father.
This will be the crow’s final caw. On May 17, 1983, Albert and Monique received her last letter:
And then, nothing… Until October 16, 1984. That day, when Christine Villemin was looking for her son Grégory, who had disappeared while he was playing in front of the house in Lépanges, Jean-Marie’s brother, Michel Villemin, receives a call. The crow woke up.
Auditioned a few days after the discovery of the body of the child, Michel reports his chilling exchange with “the guy”: “I pick up. I hear: “Hello, as there is no one nearby, you will do the shopping. I kidnapped the chief’s kid, my revenge is done. I fucked him in Vologne. His mother must be looking for him everywhere, she won’t find him.”
The next day, Grégory’s parents receive a letter, posted at the Lépanges-sur-Vologne office on the day of the crime at 5:25 p.m.
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Doubt is no longer allowed. The assassination of Grégory Villemin is the work of the vengeful bird. But who is really hiding behind the dark pursuer of Villemin?
For Étienne Sesmat, captain of the gendarmerie of Epinal, in charge of the case at its beginnings, the actions of the crow therefore constitute the very basis of his investigation.
“We knew very quickly that this crime was happening in a particular atmosphere. The crime was quickly claimed, and we understood that the victim’s father, Jean-Marie Villemain, was the real “target” of this murder. We very quickly became aware of the almost sacrificial nature of this murder, Grégory was like “sacrificed” to the hatred dedicated to his father, it was the most cruel way to harm Jean-Marie Villemin”, confides the former policeman at Planet.
He adds that the father of the family blamed himself for having revealed too much, during these exchanges with the anonymous, his attachment to his son. “While speaking with the crow on the phone, he had implied that what could hurt him the most was the death of Gregory”.
From the first minutes of the investigation, his brigade takes full measure of the harassment of which the family has been the victim for more than three years. “Our comrades from the nearby gendarmerie were aware of the crow affair. We discovered the previous letters sent by the crow in April 1983, but the case had not been dug further until then”, explains Étienne Sesmat.
For the gendarme, the case has, in fact, a psychological aspect which seems undeniable.
This letter is the “keystone” of the Grégory case, according to the former investigator.
More broadly, all the letters and calls recorded by the family, according to him, give valuable clues to the profile of the crow, and therefore, of the perpetrator(s) of the assassination of little Grégory.
The investigators start looking for relatives of the Villemin family. “
“We know that it’s happening near Aumontzey where Albert and Monique live, because that’s where the first phone calls took place,” says Étienne Sesmat. He adds: “Crows are always geographically and socially close to their victims, because they need to see the effects of their malevolence.”
But that’s not all. For the gendarme, the author of the letters and the calls is someone intelligent, who managed to conceal his identity for months, even though he most likely frequented his victims. “We know that it is someone who has hidden his game well, and that we are going to have a surprise, observes Étienne Sesmat.
Christine Navarro, the graphology expert who worked on the raven letters in 2016, agrees with this observation. “Often, crows are people we don’t suspect at all, we say to ourselves: ‘no, it’s not possible’, people are surprised at the identity of the crow.”
A crow that religiously disguises its identity, to the point of deliberately making mistakes. When he writes “Villemain”, instead of “Villemin”, for example, explains Christine Navarro. She continues: “You have to think that this crow can purposely make a mistake to make it seem like he is not part of the family to drown the fish and once again send people on the wrong track.
For her, if the anonymous sometimes takes care to disguise his writing, or his voice, it seems obvious, in this case, that it is a question of one and the same person, even, of one and the same group. .
“With his anonymous phone calls at the start, so for me we are dealing with the same person, who changed his modus operandi, because then the families were wiretapped. But we can clearly see that the same vocabulary returns. There is a continuity, the same terms, we say once that it is a man, once that it is a woman, and we say to ourselves, she disguises her voice and her writing, but sometimes not. Everything is possible”, describes the expert.
A visceral hatred, probably maintained, or amplified, by a certain mental imbalance, up to the point of no return. “We realize that there were concerns between the Villemin and Jacob families, family hatreds that have existed for a while, underlying family affairs, two poles who obviously did not like each other very much…, explains the graphology expert.
But the anonymous would not be crazy. “Crows are calculating and perverted, this is a person who hasn’t been caught, calculating what they’re doing. She does not act on impulse, perhaps out of hatred, but she is not someone mentally affected, irresponsible, disorganized”, specifies the former gendarme.
Above all, the crow delights in his crimes, and the more the search for his identity obsesses his prey, the more he laughs at being ultimately untouchable.
“If the person is not stopped, he feels powerful. And there, it was not stopped, so the person felt more and more powerful”, analyzes Christine Navarro.
For the expert, who has worked on numerous crow cases, other clues in the letters also make it possible to learn more about the identity of the anonymous person, and in particular… about his gender.
“The way you turn the sentences, in the anonymous letters, is not insignificant. In a person, certain details are more feminine than in the male sex, for example. There is a difference in the style, in the way of turning the sentences… The men are coarser for example”, depicts Christine Navarro.
Man or woman, the crow does not hesitate, whatever the case, to hit the fairer sex, one of those other macabre obsessions…
In his infamous missives, the bird has well-chosen victims: the women of Vologne.
“When the crow strikes, we are in a period of change, families are more numerous and women bear the brunt”, notes Thibaut Solano. From the 1980s, the journalist noted a change in mentalities which “slowly began to infuse”.
Christine Villemin, in the foreground, symbolizes the desire to emancipate oneself from patriarchy. “The other women also had a fairly strong character, it was not without difficulty”, articulates the author of La Voix Rauque.
The mother of the family stands out among the other wives of the clan: she is the one who does not accept blows, who will not hesitate to turn on her heels if her husband deigns to get up again, even once, hand on her.
She is elegant, dresses “sexy” for the time, a little too much, some castaways of ambient sexism will say. “Pimbêche”, “chick”… In the village, no one hesitates to despise Christine, and the crow even less.
About him, Thibaut Solano continues: “his favorite theme was sleeping around, hatred of women”. “Almost all have paid the price, they have all been accused of sleeping with such a person. For women, it was particularly cruel”, blows the author.
Monique Villemin, too, is the “marie lie down there”, in her bird language. Constantly pinned on her relationship with Thiébaut, of which Jacky Villemin is the fruit, she is cheerfully humiliated in anonymous letters.
In one of his countless calls to Jean-Marie Villemin, the sparrow threatens to burn down the couple’s house. Impassive, the foreman replies that he has “nothing to give a damn” about his intimidation. Disturbed, the anonymous responds vehemently: “I’m going to attack your wife’s minx. I’m going to corner her and rape her,” reports Patricia Tourancheau. A provocation of phenomenal violence, which reveals the indignity and sadism of the animal.
Still on the other end of the line, the crow calls this time, Liliane, on March 8, 1984, and evokes Jean-Marie: “I am going to kill him. Especially since it’s the right season. And then I will kill his wife,” he says.
The crow has only one word in its mouth: revenge. But according to Christine Navarro, the justifications of the horrible bird should not be taken at face value. “This may be a false argument, put there to send on the wrong track. A perverse way to make people feel guilty. His goal is to have fun with the person, these people are his playthings and he has a lot of fun at people’s expense. Often, it’s just a story of hatred and jealousy, without revenge to speak of, ”she assures us.
For her part, the expert thinks that it is more a story of aversion, of greed that has swelled over time.
Same story with Thibaut Solano, for whom the character of Albert remains central in the imbroglio of the obsessions of the bird of misfortune: “Albert made enemies in his beautiful family, he was not loved by his father-in-law and his brother-in-law, maybe the culprit is to be found there… Either it is a transfer of hatred to Jean-Marie, or the crow had two targets for different reasons from the start”.
The crow’s vocabulary, precisely, reveals, over the calls and letters, his many obsessions.
In short, the crow preaches the false to sow discord and drive everyone crazy.
For Étienne Sesmat, enough to describe the Vosgiens as backward and off-track people. “The Villemins were a normal, large family, with certainly diverse personalities, jealousies like in all families, but in the middle of it all, there was someone who for one reason or another, due to his story, his childhood, his personality, perhaps, maintains an idea of jealousy, even envy”, he declaims.
From then on, the assassination of the innocent Grégory Villemin becomes a liberating and definitive gesture, a sacrifice which makes it possible to release jealousy and resentment.
To finally unmask the crow, or at least understand his motivations, Christine Navarro considers it necessary to put the story in context. “These are telephone harassments on the grandparents, when you read well, there is a whole story before these famous letters and before the death of the little boy. You have to look carefully at who was targeted at the start,” she says.
For Thibaut Solano, there is no doubt: Jean-Marie Villemin arouses hatred for reasons far removed from those which pushed the crow harassed his father. “It is not for buried secrets, but for the present. Jean-Marie represents success, the extraction of the family path. Some say he had a cocky, show-off, bling-bling side,” adds the author. A theory supported by Patricia Tourancheau, who confirms: “The crow does not support the social ascent of Christine and Jean-Marie Villemin”.
Whatever the reason that pushes the crow to harass the Villemin clan: the family does not intend to let it go and scrutinizes the slightest actions and gestures of those around it to unmask the author of the anonymous missives. “There was such paranoia that the suspects were multiple… But suspected on details”, recalls Thibaut Solano.
If the identity of the crow, the number of hands behind these letters or the motivations of the bird remain unclear, one crucial element makes everyone agree: the traitor is among us. “We know that the assassin is among Grégory’s immediate entourage, we will say in the broad sense between 10 and 20 possible people who could have written the letter claiming the crime”, affirms Me Jean-Paul Teissonnière, lawyer for Murielle Bolle.
Many branches of the family have been tipped to crow. “The Hollards (Editor’s note: the maternal side of Albert Villemin’s family) were placed in police custody at the start of the case, the cafe owner had to be questioned as well”, explains the journalist, noting that these people have completely were dismissed by the authorities.
The letters from the cursed bird have sown discord within the Villemin siblings, not only with Jacky but also Michel… Who was the complete opposite of Jean-Marie: nervous, angry, he had difficulties at school and lived near his parents. For example, the crow reproached Monique Villemin for inviting Jean-Marie and Christine to lunch on Sunday, but not Michel and his wife.
“The problem is that Michel lived next to his parents. So it’s true that on Sundays, it was more children who came from afar who were invited to Sunday lunch and suddenly with Ginette they only came for coffee because they lived nearby. The crow played on it and also defended the bastard, Jacky, who would be treated less well than the other members of the family”, articulates Patricia Tourancheau.
However, Michel was not the main suspect of Jean-Marie Villemin. Witness a mysterious phone call between Grégory’s father and the crow…
While the crow was only on its first attempts, he called Jean-Marie Villemin at work in April 1982. “It is not a recorded conversation, but Jean-Marie will transcribe it and repeat it almost word for word. word”, relates Patricia Tourancheau, who describes the interview as follows:
Jean-Marie Villemin – But why? Why do not you like me ? Why do you want me? What have I done, me?
Le Corbeau – It’s just that I don’t like chefs.
During this thirty-minute phone call, Jean-Marie Villemin decides to submit four names.
Jean-Marie Villemin – Give me the word that you will tell me if you are one of the four.
The Raven – Go ahead, I’ll give it to you.
Jean-Marie Villemin – Les Noëls d’Aumontzey, Pascal Verdu, de Granges, Marcel Jacob and Rogel Jacquel.
The Raven – Yes, there is one of the four but you will never know who it is.
Asked about Jean-Marie Villemin’s suspicions against the Jacob couple, Me Frédéric Berna, Marcel Jacob’s lawyer, retorts: “He could suspect whoever he wants. He suspected Bernard Laroche so well that he shot him dead. The suspicions of Jean-Marie Villemin, I do not have much to do.
For the gendarmes who are investigating the murder of little Grégory, there is no doubt: the crow and the author of the assassination form one and the same person. “We worked with a writing expert, Ms. Jacquin-Keller, to find this person, and we systematically dictated all the people we heard to send him the documents”, assured us Étienne Sesmat.
During Bernard Laroche’s custody for the murder of Grégory Villemin, the ex-gendarme remembers: “We make her do the dictation, she goes to the expert the same evening. She calls us back the next day, and says to us: “for me, it is very likely that it is the author, the crow”.
If Bernard Laroche was finally released, Jean-Marie’s doubts did not run out of steam. It’s very simple: for him, his cousin is the murderer of his son, and the crow who has been terrorizing his family for years. An affront that Grégory’s father decides to punish himself, with a bullet in the chest.
However, several experts have exonerated Bernard Laroche… To incriminate Christine Villemin, the mother of the victim. Me Teissonnière explains: “The six experts appointed by Lambert will all conclude in the same way by saying: one, it cannot be Bernard Laroche, and two, it is indisputably the writing of Christine Villemin”.
Following these conclusions, the lawyers of the Villemin couple would have requested a second opinion. Three experts are then appointed, “the best experts of the Court of Cassation at that time in France”, assures the lawyer. “The three new experts will reach the same conclusion by saying that it cannot be Bernard Laroche and that it is indisputable or that it is highly probable that Christine Villemin is the writer of the letter claiming the crime”.
Contacted on this subject, Christine Villemin’s lawyers did not wish to answer our questions.
Me Teissonnière continues: “We then have parallel witnesses who meet her in front of the Post Office when the letter claiming the crime was posted, which she will contest against all evidence”, explains the counsel for Murielle Bolle, considering that there is “an extremely heavy case” against Grégory’s mother.
According to Me Teissonnière, a judgment of the investigative chamber of the Nancy Court of Appeal sent Christine Villemin back to the assizes for the assassination of Grégory. As the trial approached, the lawyers of the young mother would have made an appeal in cassation.
“They are going to have this dismissal judgment overturned because in one of the expertises, not the writing expertise but a minor expertise, the expert forgot to sign his report. There is, factually, an irregularity and therefore the Court of Cassation overturns the judgment of referral to the Assize Court”, reports the lawyer.
According to the latter, the regularization of the expert report could have been enough to send Christine Villemin to the assizes.
There, the instruction resumes from the first statements of the gendarmes, even though the investigation was in a phase “which made it possible to demonstrate that everything that had been done at the start did not hold water”, assures the council of Murielle Bollé.
For Christine Navarro, the first expertise on the raven’s letters are difficult to exploit. “Let’s say that at the time, forensic science was not what it is. Some experts had little or no experience with anonymous letters, and for others insufficient training concerning the particular problem of anonymous letters whose writing is very disguised”, she assures Planet.
If first judge Lambert did not attach any importance to Marcel and Jacqueline Jacob, judge Simon, he had tightened the noose around the couple in the late 1980s, before falling ill. “So, in 2017, it’s the pursuit of Simon’s lead”, observes Étienne Sesmat.
More than 30 years after the murder of Grégory Villemin, new indictments shake up the case in 2017. At the center of this twist, three people: Murielle Bolle, Marcel Jacob, and his wife, Jacqueline. If Murielle Bolle is already a well-known character in this sordid investigation, the couple Jacob, he enjoyed a certain tranquility until then.
Me Frédéric Berna, lawyer for Jacqueline Jacob, believes that her client and her husband were “no closer than that to the rest of the Villemin family, their relationship being neither particularly affectionate nor particularly hateful”.
However, in Vologne, the whispers suggest a completely different truth. According to Patricia Tourancheau, the couple did not like Jean-Marie or Christine Villemin very much.
“There are several testimonies which show that Marcel Jacob had bloodshed first against Albert Villemin, therefore Grégory’s grandfather. There was an argument during a lunch at the grandparents Jacob and he had grabbed him, he had put his glasses in his pocket and had thrown him at the door with big yelling and big fights”, reports the journalist.
For Me Frédéric Berna, adviser to Jacqueline Jacob, relations were certainly far from being good between Albert and Marcel, but the latter was not particularly belittled towards his brother-in-law either.
Within the Villemin clan, Marcel would however be reputed to be impulsive, even violent. Witness another event that occurred a few days before Christmas…
On Christmas Eve 1982, while Jean-Marie Villemin was in the car with his brother Gilbert, the latter cut a fishtail in the car of Marcel Jacob, who was accompanied by Jacqueline.
“They get out of the car and straight away they come to blows. Jean-Marie gets out of the car to try to calm the situation and wants to shake Marcel’s hand, telling him to calm down, that it wasn’t very serious, that his brother had made a mistake on the road and it wasn’t worth it. no need to get angry like that”, continues the author.
There, Marcel Jacob, red with anger, would have replied as follows:
“At that time, Jacqueline gets involved, she calls Jean-Marie a scumbag, she insults him. Marcel grabs Jean-Marie by the clothes and in fact they go back to the car to retrieve a kind of truncheon to hit him”, says the journalist.
Can we really think that the Jacob couple was really indifferent to the life of the Villemins? According to her lawyer, Jacqueline learned of Grégory’s murder from the press.
At the time of the crime, she and her husband would have been at the factory until one o’clock in the morning, an alibi confirmed by the gendarmes according to the lawyer. Why were they nevertheless indicted for kidnapping and forcible confinement followed by death?
According to Me Berna, the indictment of the couple is based on two essential elements, but according to him, obsolete.
“It is said that in one of the calls of the raven, we hear going up 13 steps, and it turns out that in the house of Jacob there were 13 steps. First, the 13 steps is the standard of dozens, hundreds of pavilions built at that time. And then, who told you that there were no other steps before the call, which were not heard?”, exasperated Jacqueline Jacob’s lawyer.
Another point: it was revealed that Marcel Jacob regularly looked out of his window with his binoculars, in the direction of Monique and Albert Villemin. When the couple was arrested in 2017, we actually found a pair of binoculars during the search. In the investigation, we already know that the crows had to see what was happening with Grégory’s grandparents because of the many hoaxes that were inflicted on them. down, while that of the Jacobs is located at the very top, 800 meters as the crow flies”, explains Patricia Tourancheau.
For Me Berna, however, this is not really a damning detail. “Marcel Jacob always said that, yes, he had binoculars, but to observe the animals. In any case, the trees hid the view,” the council said indignantly.
His colleague, Me Giuranna, agrees with him on this point: “I myself experimented with the pair of binoculars which are always present at home, in order to see if we could even guess the accommodation of the adults. – Villemin parents: it’s impossible. My client confirms that he has this pair of binoculars that he used regularly to observe the wildlife that circles around the house”.
But another element, collected by the investigators, would have made it possible to implicate Marcel Jacob, or, at the very least, to sow doubt as to his behavior…
“In his garage he kept a cardboard folder containing 37 press articles on the trial of Grégory’s father for the murder of Bernard Laroche, which, moreover, the Jacobs did not attend”, explains Patricia Tourancheau.
Above all, in this same garage, at the bottom of the drawer of a wooden cabinet, the investigators would also have brought to light a curious letter.
“The gendarmes found a pocket, a shirt, with, in fact, the alibis of Marcel Jacob for the day of the murder. There was like a sort of will, where he swears that he has nothing to do with the Villemin affair, and right next to it there is a report of the meeting of CGT staff delegates dated October 16, 1984 , the day of the disappearance of Grégory”, continues the author.
Except that this union “alibi” would never have been mentioned by Marcel Jacob before, especially during these first hearings before the gendarmes.
“Why ? Is it an alibi that he made up after the fact?”, wonders again Patricia Tourancheau.
But all this cannot be explained by a feeling of guilt, according to Marcel Jacob’s lawyer, Me Stéphane Giuranna.
“That we are interested in it and that we keep articles, it’s normal, it’s not the only one in the family nor the only one in the Vosges, it’s a business that fascinates and sells, press articles have been published by the tens of thousands”, explains the lawyer to Planet, before adding: “as for his report, he was asked the question, it is not the first time let him declare it”.
The fact remains that, for the advice of the Jacob couple, their alibi, which has remained unchanged for 38 years, is very solid.
“They have an alibi for the time of the murder, verified at the time by the gendarmes and which has been in the file for more than 30 years, on that we are very calm. They were at the factory, they worked until 1 a.m. My client only learned of the tragedy the next day through the press”, suggests Me Frédéric Berna.
In the wake of the indictments of 2017, the “little judge”, Jean-Michel Lambert, kills himself. “I will no longer have the strength to fight in the last test that awaits me. This umpteenth twist is infamous. It is based on an intellectual construction based in part on software. The grinding machine has started to destroy or damage the lives of several innocent people, to respond to the desire for revenge of a few spirits wounded in their pride”, he wrote in a letter addressed to a journalist from the East Republican.
Another part of the file seems to point the finger at the Jacob couple, and more particularly, Jacqueline: the expertise of the crow’s letters.
According to press revelations, the expertise in graphology, ordered by the justice of Christine Navarro in 2016, then those in stylometry carried out by the Swiss startup OrphAnalytics, and in turn added to the file in 2021, designated Jacqueline JAcob as the probable author of several letters attributed to the crow.
Questioned by Planet, Christine Navarro and Claude-Alain Roten, the director of Orphanalytics, did not wish to confirm these results for us, as the investigation is still in progress.
“An expert says that my client could have written an anonymous letter to Monique and Albert Villemin, that’s all. Jacqueline, she had never been assigned the claim letter.. “, states Me Berna.
For him, it’s very simple: “expertise is worth nothing, you have to throw it in the trash. 30 years ago we also said that we had identified the crow, it was Christine Villemin!”
“If there is one subject I don’t believe in, it’s graphology. completes his colleague, Me Giuranna, Marcel Jacob’s lawyer. To exonerate Christine Villemin, it was said that the handwriting studies had no judicial veracity, But when it is Jacqueline Jacob, it is retained… What credibility can we give to that? We don’t choose evidence based on when it suits us.”
In 2018, the indictments of Marcel and Jacqueline Jacob are finally canceled, for “defective form”. The procedure was, once again, not respected. The dismissal is repeated tirelessly in this case which clutters the drawers of the Dijon court for three decades.
Today, the Jacobs would only aspire to one thing: to be forgotten. “We have to leave the Jacobs alone instead of using them as a scapegoat, says Me Berna. We give them hellish life when they are a couple of quiet retirees, with health problems”.
According to their advice, Marcel and Jacqueline are regularly the target of malicious calls.
“They got a guy convicted who kept calling them to say ‘we know what you did’. He has been identified, he lived in St Malo!, exclaims Me Berna. They are crazy. It’s the Pandora’s box of all the crazy people in the area this business.
If, today, the Jacob couple is not indicted, and that, according to their advice, the elements in their charge are too thin, the track has nevertheless been studied for many years.
“The Jacob spouses, we did not have time to hear them at the time, they were not in the sights. We had to wait for the case to be taken over by Judge Simon”, explains Étienne Sesmat, in charge of the investigation until February 1985.
It was therefore Judge Simon, who took over the investigation in 1987, who decided to look for the Aumontzey couple. The magistrate was convinced of two things: that Bernard Laroche was involved in the assassination of little Grégory, but also that he had not acted alone.
In his famous “notebooks”, where the judge poured out his emotions on this case which he obviously took particularly to heart, Maurice Simon indicated, in July 1988:
In 1989, he explained: “This Marcel Jacob […] neighbor of Laroche, married to a hateful woman whom the Villemin parents hate. Track Jacob? Tracks to follow…
And the trail, in fact, is dug, at least, in the mind of the magistrate. In April of the same year, he continues, still in his mystical notebooks:
“There may be Marcel Jacob and his wife behind all this […] What can be done to break the wall of silence?”
In July 1989, he formulates his last hypothesis, black on white. “The assassin was in Aumontzey in the triangle A (Bernard Laroche and his entourage) B (Michel Villemin and his wife) C (Marcel Jacob and his wife)”
Judge Simon was dismissed in 1990: a recording in which he was heard reporting the guilt of Bernard Laroche caused an outcry. Since 2011, the monstrous case has been in the hands of the discreet magistrate Claire Barbier.
The indictments of 2017 would also be, according to some observers, the continuation of the track studied at the time by Maurice Simon.
For the former gendarme, if the indictments of the Jacobs were canceled for defect of form, and not on the merits, it is that justice had indeed certain elements for the prosecution.
Be that as it may, the investigation now seems to favor the thesis of a multi-party crime… and a multi-headed crow.
A conversation between Jean-Marie Villemin and the bird dating from September 1982 could already have guided the suspicions of the investigators at the time.
According to Paris Match, while the crow still threatens the father of the family to attack his wife Christine, Jean-Marie retorts to him that listening to his shaky voice, he feels he is too weak to carry out such a misdeed. .
The crow’s response is not long in coming.
The many victims of the Vologne crow also describe various profiles, and several different voices. It is perhaps that, in this case, the crows have multiplied over the months, as if by “fad”.
“You should know that in this affair there were a lot of anonymous letters, everyone went there with their anonymous letter, you have piles of anonymous letters, where we have everything and anything, people who have nothing to do with the case and who are going to write letters”, mentions Christine Navarro.
But on the handset side, the Villemins would have been harassed by two distinct voices.
“If we take the calls that are more similar in the modus operandi, there was a hoarse voice and a woman’s voice. The latter called in particular the traders of the region to make macabre jokes”, says Thibaut Solano.
The crow’s targets, within the family, have often heard, behind the “hoarse voice” uttering threats, the laughter of a woman…
Even the gendarme Étienne Sesmat, at the beginning of the investigation, had heard of this double vocal identity. “We knew that several people had taken part in the crow “game”, since female and male voices had been heard… But things rushed as soon as we heard Murielle, and Bernard Laroche was imprisoned, we did not have time to dig this track”, informs the former investigator.
“It seems plausible to me that a couple, not necessarily a legitimate couple, could have acted together”, concludes Thibaut Solano.
But on the side of the letters, the expert graphologist Christine Navarro would tend to qualify the thesis of a writing with several hands.
“There are varying modes of disguise. In the anonymous letters that have been leaked regularly in the press, we see that there are letters made in disguised block capitals, then in cursive writing, and we can switch to cursive writing with the untrained hand…, explains she told Planet. In these cases it is complicated to be a father in a pear in his conclusions and to say that he is only one person. But in a certain degree of certainty, there are similarities sometimes even in the semantics used, when the supports are similar, and there is a body of indices which indicate to us that it can emanate from the same person”.
This is the other crucial question that has haunted the Grégory case for 38 years. The individuals who hid behind the crow, are they also those who carried out the assassination of the little boy?
“When we look at the chronology of the murder, we say to ourselves that being alone is not possible, it takes several people who coordinate… But how did they keep silent all this time?”, wonders the author of The Hoarse Voice.
In this affair, where the ball of non-places seems incessant and where all the hypotheses end up hitting a wall, the journalist has one certainty:
Former gendarme Étienne Sesmat is a little less categorical. For him, the timing was too hazardous to be executed by a pre-organized group. “I wonder about the feasibility of a multi-party operation in a very short window of time, without a mobile phone, at the time, to coordinate… It’s quite complicated, no one can decide that the murder will take place Tuesday, October 16 between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Nobody could have known that at that time, Christine Villemin was going to decide to let her son play outside rather than keeping him in front of the TV…”, he explains to us.
Among the caws of the crow, another bird stands out: Corinne. This woman of whom no one knows anything is the writer of a letter sent to Judge Lambert. A missive which would have caused, in part at least, the indictment of Murielle Bolle in 2017… But also the dismissal from which Christine Villemin benefited years earlier.
“Addressed at the end of 1984 to the examining magistrate, this letter consists in saying that there was an affair between Murielle and her brother-in-law Bernard Laroche. Moreover, Bernard Laroche hated Christine Villemin because she had refused his advances, which would explain why Bernard killed little Grégory. All this would therefore have been done with the complicity of Murielle. The letter is signed ‘A schoolmate of Murielle, Corinne’”, details Me Teissonnière.
For twenty years, the investigation narrows around Corinne, the mystery woman who is not on any list of the Jean Lurçat college in Bruyères. According to Me Jean-Paul Teissonnière, the questions of the examining magistrate to Murielle Bolle in 2017 begin with the highlighting of this old document.
Christine Navarro is one of the experts who worked on the famous Corinne’s letter. A total of four letters were sent to Judge Lambert. “They come from a so-called witness who saw certain things, who will try to guide the judge who is taking over the case, and there I was able to say that all of these four letters probably came from the same writer despite attempts at disguise”, tells us the specialist, refusing to give the name of the person identified.
Me Teissonnière, he does not make any secret. “We will realize a few months later that Corinne does not exist, and that her letter is a forgery which was written by Monique Villemin, the mother of Jean-Marie. It was she who invented this preposterous, despicable story, allowing Bernard Laroche to be cornered”, reveals the lawyer to us.
Surprisingly, when you know how good relations between Bernard Laroche and Monique Villemin were. For the lawyer, Grégory’s grandmother might have “a debt to pay with regard to Jean-Marie”.
Murielle Bolle’s lawyer deplores other gossip that has harmed his client. “For a while, Bernard and Murielle are overwhelmed by telephone tapping, Bernard having telephoned his sister-in-law to tell her above all to hide that they were together on the day of the murder and that they left to kidnap Grégory. All this appears in the local press, but also in the front page of Figaro, for example”, says the council.
Only here it is: there has never been any telephone tapping and “no one has returned to these abject lies at a time when they occupied a central place in the accusation system with regard to Murielle and Bernard” , assures Me Teissonnière.
These few words, scribbled in the register located at the entrance to the church of Lépanges-sur-Vologne, caused an earthquake in the resounding Grégory affair.
In the spring of 2017, a parishioner was about to give a catechism class when she was, to say the least, challenged by these written “confessions”. The next day, the notebook is brought by the former mayor of the village to the gendarmes, who take the element very seriously.
Almost instantly, they alert their colleagues in the Dijon research section who have just relaunched the investigations to find the murderer of Grégory Villemin.
The notebook is seized and sifted through by Professor Christian Doutremepuich, an expert in genetics. A dramatic twist: among the six DNA detected on the page where the little note appears, the specialist discovers… The DNA of Murielle Bolle, collected by the courts in 2009.
A revelation that could well, once and for all, solve the mystery. However, when Murielle Bolle’s DNA is collected a second time, the one present on the register is not the right one. To this day, this scientific enigma remains unanswered, and no one knows who was the author of this inscription attributed, wrongly, to Murielle Bolle.
Between legal failures, false documents, rumors and progress, is there a chance, even a slim one, that the truth will ever come out?
In the din of this affair which continues to be talked about 38 years later, two camps clash. On the one hand, those who still hope to glimpse the truth one day. On the other, those who have made up their minds. Étienne Sesmat belongs to the first category. “I cling to a hope even if it is tenuous, weak. The hope that justice will bring someone to testify, suddenly to make a confession, to bring new elements…”, sighs the ex-captain.
Me Frédéric Berna, he holds a completely different speech. “Nobody wants to accept the fact that we will never solve this case. Nobody wants to hear it. It’s impossible: the first investigators did too much bullshit for us to be able to draw anything from it today, ”launches the lawyer. Me Stéphane Giuranna shares this observation: “The only chance we have of solving this case is for someone to confide on their deathbed”.
Only one element could get the investigators out of the impasse: DNA expertise, authorized by the Dijon Court of Appeal in January 2021. Thus, nine DNA traces are being analyzed using two methods:
On this subject, Me Frédéric Berna is very serene. “There are new DNA expertises requested: I am delighted, the DNA which is on the cords and the clothes, we already know that it is not that of the Jacobs, they can do all the DNA treatments that they want, we already know that it’s not them”, he assures.
As for a possible trial, the lawyer is also calm there.
As for the Villemins… Their ex-lawyer and friend, Me Thierry Moser, gave us news of the little family. “They trust justice. They know that the President of the Chamber of Instruction of the Court of Appeal of Dijon is active and is carrying out investigations. We are hopeful to move forward but we know that it takes time and patience”, confides the lawyer to us.
Time, and patience. 38 years have already passed since the disastrous October 16, 1984. In its wake, the case has released many ghosts, like a curse. Two assassinations, one suicide, only dismissals, and too many misses… Is the Grégory affair damned, just like its many protagonists seem to be?