‘Ogre of the Ardennes’ serial killer charged with murder of ‘French Maddie’

One of France’s most notorious serial killers has been charged with the abduction and murder of a nine-year-old girl who vanished without trace in 2003 in a case that has gripped the nation ever since.

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Michel Fourniret, jailed for life in May 2008 for the murder of seven girls and young women, has been charged over the disappearance of Estelle Mouzin from a village east of Paris after his wife came forward to contradict his alibi.

Estelle Mouzin disappeared in Guermantes, 18 miles east of Paris, on January 9, 2003 while walking home from her school. Her body was never found.

Reported sightings fuelled speculation she was kidnapped and taken abroad, sparking parallels with the Madeleine McCann, the British three-year-old who went missing in Portugal in 2007.

Detectives first suspected Fourniret, 76, was behind the Mouzin murder in 2006 after they found a photo of her on his computer, and a white van resembling the one he drove had been spotted in the area when she disappeared.

The killer has always maintained he had nothing to do with her disappearance and that at the time he was at home at Sart-Custinne, southern Belgium, near the French border.

Last week, however, his former wife, Monique Olivier, told investigators that the phone call Fourniret said he made from his home on the day the child disappeared was in fact made by her at his request.

"That means that Michel Fourniret was not at Sart-Custinne the day of Estelle Mouzin’s disappearance," said Olivier’s lawyer, Richard Delgenes. "He was somewhere else.”

Fourniret has form when it comes to changing his mind on who he has murdered.

He long denied killing Joanna Marie Parrish, a British language student from Newnham on Severn, Gloucestershire, who was murdered in the Burgundy region of France while working at a local school as part of her degree course in 1990.

His wife said he was behind her death but later retracted her testimony.  However, Fourniret finally owned up to her murder last year.

His life sentence carries no possibility of parole.

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