A French police officer took his own life after authorities linked him to a series of killings and rapes from 1986 to 1994.
Police used DNA evidence to identify François Vérove as the “pockmarked man,” a serial killer and rapist who avoided capture for 35 years. Vérove, 59, used his police card and handcuffs to kidnap women and girls – similar to the case of Sarah Everard in the United Kingdom.
Cold-case investigators had focused the search on former military police officers. Vérove took his life after investigators summoned him – along with some 750 other retired officers – to answer questions, The Guardian reported.
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Investigators collected Vérove’s DNA after his death, matching it to DNA on a cigarette butt from a crime scene and a victim’s sanitary protection.
Vérove wrote a confession before taking his life, in which he discussed “past impulses” and childhood problems that he claimed to have “under control,” the Metro reported.
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“I admit to being a major criminal who committed unforgivable deeds until the end of the 1990s,” the letter said, according to French newspaper Le Parisien.
“We were convinced it was a police officer or gendarme, both by the violence he used against his victims, and also his techniques – his way of presenting his tricolour [police] card, a certain number of things victims reported him saying,” Didier Seban, a lawyer for victims’ families, told France Info. “He knew all the police techniques.”
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Vérove committed at least four murders and six rapes during his decade-long spree.
Five unsolved murders have been linked to the “pockmarked man” (or Le Grêlé). The name comes from a sketch based on witness testimony that depicted a man with severe acne in his mid-20s.
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Vérove was a father of two children and lived in a rented apartment in the Mediterranean resort of Le Grau-du-Roi. His youngest victim was 11 years old.