Trial Starts For Bus Driver Suspected In Series Of Murders
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 4, 2004
AUXERRE, FRANCE--The case of a 70-year-old former bus driver believed to be a serial rapist and murderer began in a French court Wednesday.
The case, commonly known as the "Disappeared of the Yonne", is considered by many to be France's largest scandal in decades. It is expected to reveal numerous blunders -- and cover-ups -- by police over a 30-year period, along with speculation about improper conduct within local social service agencies.
Emile Louis is accused in the disappearance of seven women between the ages of 16 and 29 in the Yonne region about 100 miles southeast of Paris.
In December of 2000, Louis confessed to police that he had sex with the women, then murdered them and then buried their bodies along a river bank. Louis had been responsible for transporting the women, who had mental disabilities, to and from their day program center, before or during the time they disappeared between 1975 and 1979.
Louis later withdrew his confession and said that the women had been kidnapped by a local prostitution ring, and that he had only acted as a chauffer. Only two of the bodies were recovered.
When police went back to further investigate the deaths of the seven women, along with seventeen others who had disappeared around the same time, they discovered that many of the women had been listed simply as "fugitives" and that no further investigations were done. They also discovered that police records in many cases were missing.
In fact, they found that nearly all of the files on cases that had been opened and later dropped by the prosecutor's office in Auxerre between 1958 and 1982 -- including many cases of missing women -- had simply been stolen or destroyed.
The controversy has been fueled by rumors that high-level authorities were involved in prostitution rings, and that the investigation records were destroyed to cover up the crimes and police conduct.
Added to the intrigue is the fact that Christian Jambert -- the only investigator who pursued the cases -- appeared to have committed suicide just weeks before he was scheduled to present evidence against Louis. Earlier this year, an examination of Jambert's body revealed that he had been shot by two bullets of different types, fired from different angles.
A rifle and a folder of related documents found at the site of his shooting have since vanished.
Louis' trial is expected to last four weeks. During that time several senior social workers are expected to take the witness stand.
They are likely to be asked why the women, most of whom required "daily care", were simply noted in social service records as "runaways" or "voluntarily left the facility", and why many of their disappearances were not even reported to police, according to The Guardian.