POLICE are hunting a Riviera serial killer after a diver’s horror discovery of a cache of bones in the sea at Antibes.
The bones, including a skull, two arm bones, a leg bone and part of a jawbone, were found by a diver on the seabed beside a popular coastal path. One of the victims has already been identified as a missing Seine-et-Marne teenager, Stéphane Hirson, who vanished in 1994.
The other victims are two women and a man – with reports revealing that police had found ink writing on the male skull saying “Death to paedophiles.” The skull also appeared to have a target drawn on it.
Georges Gutierrez, the prosecutor at nearby Grasse, has launched a murder and kidnap inquiry but said that it was “an extremely complex” investigation with “many questions to answer”. He said it was baffling as to why single bones were found and not other parts of the skeletons.
He confirmed that the humerus found was that of Stéphane Hirson, from Lagny-sur-Marne, outside Paris, and said that the bones appeared to have been in the water beside the Chemin des Douaniers for around 10 years.
The bones were actually discovered last February when a professional diver fishing for urchins spotted what he thought was a skull and bones in water 10 metres deep. He called gendarmes who recovered the bones and then, later, part of a jawbone lodged in rocks.
Police are still trying to identify the other victims, but after a long time in the water it was difficult to recover DNA.
Stéphane disappeared in 1994, less than three weeks before his 18th birthday and was thought to have left his home without papers and without money. His mother had several times tried to trace him, including travelling to Spain where she thought he had been headed.
Police are thought to have spent some time investigating leads into his disappearance in the area of Draguignan in the Var.
Writer Stéphane Bourgoin, a specialist on serial killers who has interviewed 75 of them for his works, told Nice-Matin that the spot where the bodies were found was not easily accessible, which meant that police would be looking for someone who knew the area or who lived nearby.
He said the discovery had the hallmarks of a serial killer who was well organised – but one who was atypical, as it was not usual for serial killers to kill both men and women.