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Jean-Louis TURQUIN





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Parricide - The body was never found
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: March 21, 1991
Date of arrest: May 13, 1991
Date of birth: 1949
Victim profile: His son, Charles-Edouard, 8
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Nice, France
Status: Sentenced to 20 years in prison on March 20, 1997. Released on parole on July 18, 2006

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Father may be cleared in French child death case

Paul Webster - The Observer

Sunday, July 13, 2003

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, Charles-Edouard.

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 to trial.

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'

Guardian Unlimited


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 playing.

The vet was nonetheless jailed for two decades and denied any right to appeal.



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