Authorities Were Not Buying
Bernard Pesquet Story
France was occupied by Germany in 1941 when 19-year-old
Bernard Pesquet was convicted of murdering his best friend, Julien
Bernard admitted hitting Julien over the head with an
iron bar, but claimed that Julien was a German informant and that he had
killed him to protect his country.
It goes without saying that such a defence did not
sit well in German-occupied France.
The court preferred to believe that robbery was the
motive. Bernard was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Served 21 years
Twenty-one years later, Bernard was released from
prison. He settled in the Paris suburb of Pierrelaye and was considered
something of a celebrity by the locals.
Within a year, he had built up a thriving painting
and decorating business and had earned the respect of the townsfolk.
Bernard was even a valued member of the local chamber
In 1968, he met and wed attractive Christiane Ruaux.
Although Christiane proved to have expensive tastes,
the marriage appeared to be a happy one until Nov. 24, 1974. That was
the day Christiane disappeared with everything of value in the Pesquet
She took several of Bernardís suits, which gave
everyone a chuckle. You see, Bernard had the undersized body of a
If Christiane had run away with a lover who could use
her husbandís suits, he had to be a very small man indeed.
Bernard wept, but life went on.
On April 30, 1976, the good citizens of Pierrelaye
had another bit of gossip to talk about.
A local real estate agent, Henri Francqui, 68,
vanished off the face of the earth.
Nothing had been taken from his office or home.
Francqui, who had lived alone, simply didnít show up at his office and
was never seen again.
Two months later, while police were looking for
Francqui or his body, another tragedy took place.
This time, the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine was
the locale of a triple murder.
Emile and Elizia Bergaud were a wealthy couple who
failed to keep a dinner engagement with their son-in-law.
Emile was 73 years old, Elizia, 63. Together with
their maid, Alfia Borgioni, they were found shot to death in their
Detectives found a sheet of plastic in the dining
room of the Bergaudís apartment. It was caked with dried blood.
The killer had found a hidden safe in the bathroom.
It had been opened and the contents removed.
A ladyís purse lay open on the bedroom floor. All
cash had been removed.
While robbery appeared to be the logical motive,
police figured the killer was an amateur. A professional thief rarely
kills and often does not carry a weapon.
An autopsy revealed Mrs. Bergaud had been shot once
in the head and twice in the back. Mr. Bergaud had also been shot in the
head and in the arm.
The maid, Alfia Borgioni, had been strangled and then
shot through the head while unconscious.
Ballistic testing indicated that all the shots had
been fired from the same weapon, a .38 calibre revolver.
Police figured that the blood bath had taken place to
prevent the victims from indentifying the robber.
Analysing the scene
After analysing the scene of the crime and studying
the trajectory of the bullets, it was ascertained that the man who fired
the .38 was small in stature. The bullets had travelled at an upward
The safe, which had been well hidden in a bathroom
closet, would probably not be found by someone unless they knew where to
The safe was a well constructed, complicated affair
and could only be opened by someone who had a knowledge of safes and was
handy with tools.
It didnít take long for the name Bernard Pesquet to
pop to the surface. Men who had a criminal record were checked out first.
Bernard fit most of the prerequisites. He was small
and, although he didnít know the Bergauds on a personal level, he had
recently papered and painted their apartment.
He would therefore know the location of the safe and
what tools were required to open it.
Bernard was questioned. Initially, he denied all,
claiming police persecution because of his criminal record dating back
over 20 years.
However, a search of his home uncovered Swiss,
English and Belgian coins, as well as an American Express card made out
to Emile Bergaud. Bernard attempted to bluff.
He claimed the money was his own savings.
As for the American Express card, he told officers he
had left a book of wallpaper samples with the Bergauds.
They must have dropped the card in the book. Bernard
had found the card and intended to return it.
A horde of evidence
While Bernardís story fell within the realm of
possibility, he was unable to come up with a comparable yarn to account
for the horde of evidence in his barn.
Detectives found gold bars, Mrs. Bergaudís jewellery
and the key to the Bergaudsís apartment.
They also uncovered Christiane Pesquetís driverís
license and an identification card belonging to Henri Francqui.
Bernard told his interrogators that Christiane and
Francqui had been lovers and had run off together.
No one believed the unlikely tale. Instead of
questioning him further, police proceeded to dig up his yard. Bernard
was forced to watch. He didnít flinch for a moment.
When the diggers discontinued their efforts, he broke
into a wide grin. Things became downright serious when the police
concentrated their efforts on the basement of his house.
Resigned to the consequences, Bernard stated matter
of factly, ďYou may run across two bodies there.íí He was right on the
The bodies of his wife, Christiane, and Henri
Francqui were uncovered.
Autopsies and ballistics tests proved that both had
been shot with the same weapon which had taken the lives of the Bergauds
and their maid, Alfia Borgioni.
Bernard now told a different story. He and Christiane
had argued over her affair with Francqui.
She wanted money so that she could take off with her
lover. When he refused, she pulled out the .38. In the ensuing struggle,
she was shot.
As for Francqui, Bernard had argued with him over
Christiane. Francqui pulled a gun on him. Bernard claimed he had no
choice but to fire in self defense. Unfortunately for Bernard, both
victims had been shot in the back.
When informed of this inconsistency in his story,
Bernard could only stare at the floor. He wasnít smiling any more.
On Oct. 8, 1982, Bernard Pesquet was found guilty of
five counts of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Crime Flashback by Max Haines
M RACE: W TYPE: S MOTIVE: CE
Bludgeoned man in robbery, 1941; killed victims for profit, 1974-76,
cementing corpses inside staircase of his home.
Life term, 1956 (paroled 1961); life term, 1984.