Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michel Fourniret Serial Killer


The investigation into Joanna's death was bungled from the beginning. The crime scene was turned into a forensic disaster. Moreover, much of the information gathered during the investigation was kept from Joanna's family, who desperately tried to learn what advances were being made in the case.

Tearse suggested that during a British inquest into Joanna's murder, critical evidence was discovered that was ignored or overlooked by French coroners. He claimed that a second autopsy, conducted by the British, revealed several bite marks on Joanna's body. From a forensic standpoint, bite marks are vital clues that can reveal information about the killer because teeth, bite and jaw formations are individually unique and can be easily matched. The revelation shocked Joanna's parents who couldn't comprehend how something so obvious and important could have gone unnoticed.

Joanna (r) with parents, Burgundy
Joanna (r) with parents, Burgundy

During the autopsy, medical examiners were able to obtain sperm samples. It took two years for the samples to be analyzed, but the results led to a genetic print. The DNA evidence was one of the biggest clues in the investigation and Roger and Pauline hoped that it would lead investigators to the killer. However, they were not so fortunate.

Tearse said, "investigators refused to call for voluntary DNA tests of the local male population and continued to refuse to make a media appeal for witnesses." It was another blow to the investigation and a major disappointment for Roger and Pauline. Frustrated at the incompetence of police, Joanna's family decided to take measures into their own hands.

Map: Auxerre and Monéteau
Map: Auxerre and Monéteau

They family offered a reward for information into Joanna's death and handed out leaflets in and around Auxerre and Monéteau. They even appealed to the British government for assistance. Even though they were unsuccessful in getting help from the British government they did manage to get some interesting responses to their leaflets.

Several people offered some information directly concerning Joanna's death. Roger and Pauline eagerly presented the new leads to the French authorities. However, for some unknown reason, the investigators failed to pursue the tips.

Isabelle Laville
Isabelle Laville

The family members of other murdered victims in Burgundy responded to the leaflets. Like Roger and Pauline, they were angered because they also felt as if the investigators were mishandling the cases of their deceased loved ones, including that of Danielle Bernard, 39, Sylvie Baton, 24, and Isabelle Laville, 17 who were murdered near or in Auxerre between 1987 and 1990. Even though years later (2004), Fourniret eventually confessed to Laville's murder, he never admitted to that of Baton, Bernard or Joanna Parrish. At the time, there were no real suspects in the cases or any of the other 13 unsolved murders and disappearances of women in the Auxerre area over the last 30 years.

Roger and Pauline tried to obtain Joanna's case files so they could bring in outside help to assist in the investigation. However, investigators continued to deny them access to the documents. Even though it seemed as if they were battling a lost cause, they refused to give up in their search for evidence.

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