French Police May Have Break in Notorious Cold Case

Relatives questioned in 1984 death of Gregory Villemin
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2017 1:05 PM CDT
New Lead in Famous French Cold Case?
File photo of a French police car.   (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

A convoluted cold case that has fascinated France for decades may have taken a big step toward resolution. Authorities say three family members have been detained for questioning in the 32-year-old murder of 4-year-old Gregory Villemin. Gregory's body was found tied up in the Vologne River in eastern France in October of 1984, and from the start, the case was full of twists. Hours before Gregory was found dead, the boy's uncle said he'd received a call from a person claiming to be his kidnapper, reports the BBC. A day later, Gregory's parents said they received a letter reading, "Your son is dead, I have been avenged." A month after that, Bernard Laroche, a cousin of Gregory's dad, was arrested when his sister-in-law told police she'd seen Lorache with Gregory on the banks of the Vologne, reports Le Parisien.

When the 15-year-old retracted her statement months later, Laroche was released. But Gregory's father, Jean-Marie Villemin, then killed Laroche. While Villemin was in jail, his wife, Christine Villemin, was imprisoned for Gregory's killing after cords similar to those used to tie him up were found in the family home, but she, too, was later cleared, per the Local in a 2013 story. On Wednesday, however, authorities announced they'd detained three people on suspicion of complicity in the murder, failing to report a crime, and failing to helping a person at risk. All three are members of the Villemin family, per Le Parisien and Le Monde. The BBC describes them only as a couple in their 70s, along with a woman. Gregory's grandmother was reportedly brought in as a witness. (This 47-year-old cold case may be solved.)

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