March 8, 2009
Grègory Villemin, age 4
The murder of little Grègory Villemin was one of the most mysterious and media-hyped criminal cases of the 20th century. During the 25 years since, the investigation has seen new and surprising developments, throwing light on numerous dysfunctions within both the French judicial system and the media, and leading to repercussions including a second murder, the resignation of a high-ranking gendarmerie office, the destruction of one judge's reputation and another's loss of health and subsequent premature death. Who was the murderer? Who was the corbeau? A quarter of a century later these questions remain unanswered in a story of murder, revenge, bizarre family feuding, strange twists and surprise suspects.
Grègory Villemin would have been 29 years old this year and probably – like his parents before him – happily married, with a good job and a nice house. Instead, an infinitely more cruel fate was reserved for him: On Tuesday, October 16, 1984 his body, tied hand and foot, was found floating in the River Vologne. He was only 4 years old.
As if this wasn't shock enough for the 1,000 inhabitants of the village of Lèpanges-sur-Vologne (Vosges, north-eastern France), a second murder was to follow a mere five months later.
So many rumors, contradictions distortions of the truth have beset the case that it is difficult picking one's way through the files, news reports and books written on the subject to determine what was fact and what supposition, malicious gossip or plain lies.