A man who convinced his parents, wife, and children that he was a researcher for the World Health Organization, then killed them all as his decades-long ruse was about to be revealed, is out of prison after 26 years. Jean-Claude Romand of France, whose double life inspired two French films, was released Thursday following an April decision to grant him parole, per AFP. Romand did indeed enroll in medical school in the 1970s but repeated the first-year program for 12 successive years while lying to friends and family, per the BBC. He said he had become a doctor and secured a job with the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland. To make his ruse seem legit, Romand drove daily to the border area between France and Switzerland. He would also claim to go on foreign trips, then hide out at highway rest stops.
He lived on money from the sale of his student flat, bought for him by his parents, then sought money from loved ones, who believed he had access to investment opportunities as a UN employee. The scheme began to unravel in 1992 as creditors closed in and a family friend checked a WHO staff list. Romand then killed wife Florence with a rolling pin and shot his two children—a daughter, 7, and son, 5—with a rifle on January 9, 1993. The 38-year-old then drove 50 miles to kill his parents and their dog before returning home, downing sleeping pills and starting a fire. He was rescued and convicted of murder in 1996. Now 65, Romand will spend two years under electronic surveillance and is barred from speaking to the media about his crimes. "It is a huge disappointment for my clients and a cause of great pain," a lawyer representing Florence's family said in April, per AFP. (Read more France stories.)