Content Warning: the following article contains mention of suicide, murder, and other violent crimes. Reader discretion is advised.
A decades-long nightmare for France has finally come to an end. A serial killer who was referred to as Le Grêlé took his own life and was found in the town of Le Grau-du-Roi on France’s Mediterranean coast. The man, real name Francois Verove, was a former military police officer. He was reported missing by his wife on September 27.
The suicide note found with Verove included a confession that linked him to the infamous Le Grêlé, a name that means “the pockmarked man”. Le Grêlé was thought to be the man responsible for a series of murders and assaults in 1986, though no suspects were ever brought in for the crimes.
French police have confirmed that DNA taken from Verove’s body is a match for samples recovered from some of the Le Grêlé crime scenes.
The 1986 Le Grêlé murders were some of the most notorious unsolved crimes in French history. The victims included Cécile Bloch, 11, Karine Leroy, 19, and Gilles Politi, 38. The spate of murders coincided with a series of assaults against women by an unidentified man, though victims all reported that he had a distinctive, pockmarked face, leading to his moniker in the press.
The attacks and murders took place in Paris and surrounding areas and shocked the country. The attacks went unsolved for decades, but police were finally beginning to make some headway in the investigation in 2021. They had begun questioning Verove for what they suspected might be his involvement in the cold cases.
Verove, pushed into a corner by the investigation, seems to have taken his own life rather than face the legal system. While the French authorities have not yet released the contents of his suicide note, though they have stated that Verove only admitted that he committed murders and didn’t name any of the Le Grêlé victims.
According to reports about the crime, Verove attempted to explain his reasoning for the attacks, stating that they were the result of him succumbing to “previous impulses,” though he insisted that he late “got himself together”.
Verove worked as a military police officer until 1988 when he retired. According to reports, Verove’s final note includes an assertion from the former police officer that he was “not well in life”.