Cop Reported Missing Is Found Dead, DNA Test Links Him to Multiple Rapes, Killings

A former French police officer reported missing was found dead, and DNA tests linked him to at least six rapes and four killings during the 1980s and 1990s.

Prosecutors announced late Thursday that DNA from a 59-year-old retired officer matched genetic traces found at multiple crime scenes in the 1980s and 1990s.

Investigators had summoned a former police officer, identified in French media as Francois V., but he did not show up for questioning. According to a statement by the Paris prosecutor's office, he was declared missing by his wife. He was found dead from an apparent medication overdose in an apartment in the Mediterranean seaside resort of Grau-du-Roi.

The prosecutor's office confirmed that Francois V.'s genetic profile matched evidence found at several crime scenes after DNA testing.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

French Police
French police cracked a cold case by linking DNA of a former police officer to the scenes of several murders and rapes in the 1980s to 1990s. French police officers respond to an emergency at an apartment, in Villejuif, a suburb of Paris, on September 6, 2017. Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty Images

The crimes began with the rape of an 8-year-old girl in 1986 and continued with other rapes, a kidnapping and slayings, mostly of underage girls.

After 35 years of digging, investigators determined that the suspect had worked as a gendarme in the Paris region between 1986 and 1994, and summoned 750 current or former officers for questioning this week.

The 8-year-old girl who is the first known victim was approached in the elevator of her building on April 8, 1986, by a man who identified himself as a police officer, then took her to the basement and raped and choked her. The girl, Sarah, lost consciousness, but did not die.

A month later, an 11-year-old girl named Cecile was raped and killed in the basement of her Paris apartment building. Her half-brother crossed paths with the suspect and described him to investigators, allowing production of a police sketch that later hung in many police stations around France.

But police had no leads, so the investigation was closed in 1992. In 1996, a new judge reopened the case and ordered a genetic analysis of the evidence, which made it possible to get the suspect's DNA.

The same genetic profile was found in several other cases: the 1987 killing of a 21-year-old German au pair and her employer. The rape of a 14-year-old girl in 1987 in Paris. The kidnapping and rape of an 11-year-old girl in a forest in Mitry, in the eastern suburbs of Paris, in 1994. And the killing of a 19-year-old woman in 1994 in another forest.

Investigators looked in all directions over the years but couldn't find the perpetrator. Magistrates moved on, and others took over the case.

Francois V. had indeed worked as a gendarme and a police officer, and as a town councilor in the town of Prades-le-Lez in southern France.

The prosecutor's office praised the "courage and determination" of investigator Nathalie Turquey, whose efforts to keep the case alive helped provide answers at last for loved ones of the victims.

France's police network launched a "cold cases" unit last year, and a similar effort is underway in the justice system to foster cooperation across regions and jurisdictions.