(Artist's impressions of Noëlla Hégo and Stéphane Moitoiret)
On the night of July 29th 2008, Valentin Cremault, aged 11 was killed as he rode his bicycle in the little French town of Lagnieu, in the Ain region. So horrendous were the lacerations to the child's body that the first doctor to examine him thought he had been attacked by a dog or a wolf.
"The dog bites were actually stab wounds. Someone had slashed and punctured the little boy's body at least 50 times."
"True Crime Report"
On August 7th, Stéphane Moitoiret and his partner, Noëlla Hégo, were picked up by police in connection with the murder, after motorists reported the strange behaviour of a couple of hitchhikers they had picked up.
"The couple, who claimed to be pilgrims and slept rough in communal buildings, said they had been sent to France by the Australian government and wanted to carry out "commando operations on gendarmes and French public figures". (True Crime Report)
Moitoiret and Hégo are variously described as, "The King of Australia and the Divine Princess," and, "His Majesty's Secretary and the Divine Princess." According to Moitoiret's mother, Chantal, Stéphane and his partner have been traveling here and there, throughout France for the past 20 years. She had not seen her son for three years when he was arrested. She said that he was a, "kind boy, but something wasn't right there."
Chantal reported that her son had suffered from mental health problems, possibly since his father died in 1986 and that if it was Stéphane who had committed the murder that it wasn't his fault, that he had, "paranoid thoughts," and possibly, " a-t-il cru que le petit garçon n'était pas un petit garçon et il s'est senti attaqué," (he believed that the little boy wasn't a little boy and he felt he was being attacked) (20 minutes.fr)
Like Fourniret and Olivier, Moitoiret and Hégo had moved around a lot; the former couple had settled in various places and their history over the years was easy to map; Moitoiret and Hégo had led an itinerant life for 20 years and the French police are reported as saying it was very difficult to know where they had been because of there being no bank or phone records. It appears that like Fourniret and Olivier, Moitoiret and his partner may have left a trail of crime in their wake.
Also, like Michel Fourniret, it appears that Moitoiret's partner ultimately gave him away to the police. Just as Monique Olivier had made statements about her husband's crimes, Hégo gave important evidence to the police when she directed them to the place where the bloodstained sheath of a knife was found.
"The sheath of a knife, stained with blood, on which was found the DNA of little Valentin and that of his alleged murderer, Stéphane Moitoiret, was found at the beginning of the week, the Bourg-en-Bresse prosecutor, Jean-Paul Gandolière, announced on Thursday. 'It appears that this sheath held the murder weapon, which is still being sought,' he stressed."
"It was after statements made by Noëlla Hégo, Stéphane Moitoiret's partner, that the investigators of the national gendarmerie found this sheath. It was found in a coppice, a dozen or so metres from the road taken by the couple after they left Saint-Sorlin, Ain" (Le Figaro 14/08/08)
At the moment, Noëlla Hégo is facing similar charges to those initially faced by Monique Olivier. She is under investigation for, "not preventing the commission of a crime, removing evidence and non-disclosure." (Le Figaro)
The French police are now investigating a large number of unsolved murders that appear to be linked to Moitoiret.
"There are a large number of unsolved murders that appear to match Moitoiret's M.O., as well. Victims include a priest, a transvestite, and men and women of varying ages. So far, the links seem to be in how victims are displayed after death, and in the way the knife was used to kill them."
One such crime is the 2005 murder of Marine Boisseranc, aged 20.
"Marine's father Eric detailed some of the commonalities between his daughter's murder and that of Valentin Cremault. Boisseranc noted that his daughter had been stabbed at least a dozen times. The killer in both cases was right-handed and determined to be about the same height as Moitoiret. There was a homeless shelter not far from the Boisseranc murder scene, and authorities believe they can place Moitoiret in the area at the time of Marine's murder." (True Crime Report)
I would assume that this case will take quite some time, years maybe, as in the Fourniret/Olivier case, to be brought to court, since there appear to be quite a few crimes which could be linked to Moitoiret and his partner. Sometimes it seems to me that these killers who come to light only represent the bubbles that rise to the surface from some kind of evil swamp, festering away under the level of awareness of most us who are just getting on with our ordinary lives. No sooner has one bubble been skimmed off the surface, than more rise and exude their foul stench.
I look out of my window at the sunny day, the occasional person walking past my garden, and the council workers emptying the contents of my recycle bins into their truck, and remind myself that I am living in a world where most people are just ordinary like me, doing their best to live an ordinary life, going about their everyday activities. Serial killers are very rare....but I must remember to lock the back door when I go to bed!