It was after making love to his wife
at their villa overlooking the Riviera that Jean-Louis
Turquin revealed how he had snatched their eight-year-old
son while he slept, strangled him and then buried him
under a cross in the mountains above Nice.
The veterinary surgeon was unaware
that his wife, Michèle, had switched on a tape recorder
under the bed in the hope of tricking her husband into a
confession. The recording was the crucial evidence that
led to Turquin's 20-year sentence for murdering his son,
No body was found, no witnesses came
forward and police never traced the spot where Charles-Edouard's
body supposedly lay. But as Turquin, who denied the
killing in court, began a hunger strike in jail this
month to clear his name, a new theory has come up as to
the identity of the killers.
Turquin was accused of killing a son
whom he adored because his Jewish wife had been
unfaithful. The revenge took on racist overtones when
Turquin, a practising Roman Catholic, allegedly became
obsessed with the belief that the lover, a Jew, was
Charles-Edouard's real father - factors which the
prosecution linked to burial under a wayside cross as an
act of religious purification.
The suspicion inspired a bestselling
novel, Mariage Mixte, in which author Marc Weitzmann
used the Turquin case to explore murderous tensions
inside a Christian-Jewish marriage. A court refused to
ban the book despite its theme closely following the
abduction and strangling by a Christian father of a
child called Charles-Edouard, in an act of hatred
towards an unfaithful wife.
It took six years after Charles-Edouard's
disappearance in March 1991 before Turquin was brought
While Turquin's wife insisted the
child had been killed by his father, Turquin claimed he
had been kidnapped by Michèle's lover and taken to
Israel to be raised in an Orthodox Jewish school.
In court, Turquin said he was only
acting out the role of a murderer that his wife wanted
him to play while making love. Friends gave evidence
that he 'adored' his son. Turquin told prison guards
'Charles-Edouard is still alive', but his cause seemed
hopeless until a letter arrived at the office of
Turquin's lawyer, Jean-Marc Varaut.
'A prisoner in an eastern French jail
wrote that a cellmate had admitted killing the boy by
accident while driving past the Turquin house at night,'
Varaut said. 'With an accomplice, he had carried out a
burglary near Nice and was driving away at speed when he
saw a child wearing only pyjamas and a dressing gown
crossing the road. The car hit and killed him. The
thieves buried the boy in a place yet to be identified.'
Police have reopened the inquiry and
a retrial is under consideration. Varaut said the new
evidence provided elements of both hope and tragedy for
Turquin. 'From one viewpoint it could ensure his release
from jail. From another it would end all hope of ever
seeing his beloved son again. He has clung desperately
to the idea that the child is alive in Israel.'
Confession may clear 'child killer'
One of France's most celebrated
murder cases took a new twist yesterday as unexpected
evidence emerged that may finally clear a Nice
veterinary surgeon sentenced to 20 years in jail for
murdering his eight-year-old son.
A jury in the Riviera capital
convicted Jean-Louis Turquin in 1997 of killing Charles-Edouard
in 1991, saying he was guilty of "the most despicable of
crimes" despite the fact that the boy's body was never
found, nor any material evidence produced to link the
father to the crime.
But now a prisoner in northern France
has written to one of Turquin's lawyers claiming a
cellmate had told him that he had accidentally knocked
down Charles-Edouard while fleeing a robbery and had
hidden the body "where it would never be found".
The Turquin case gripped France.
Court psychologists portrayed Turquin and his wife,
Michele, who were in mid-divorce, as a "deeply perverted"
couple whose relationship was "dominated by sado-masochistic
tendencies" and who had never wanted the child.
Charles-Edouard was reported missing
by his father early on March 21 1991. The one piece of
evidence against the vet, with whom the boy shared a
bedroom in a luxury villa on the outskirts of Nice, was
what was purported to be a tape recording of a phone
conversation between him and Michele in which he
appeared to tell her that he had strangled their son.
Experts cast serious doubt on the
authenticity of the recording and Turquin said he had
been set up by Michele and that the so-called confession
was just part of the couple's habitual bizarre role
The vet was nonetheless jailed for
two decades and denied any right to appeal.