Dozens of police officers and gendarmes joined forces to capture an escaped prisoner who is suspected of murdering two people since his escape.
He was caught close to Angers, Maine-et-Loire, on Tuesday (July 4) after the alarm was raised the previous evening.
The unnamed individual escaped whilst on leave from a prison in Normandy, where he was part-way through serving two prison sentences for attempted murder (12 years) and damage to the prison where he was incarcerated (three years).
He is suspected of the murder of a 40-year-old woman in Angers on June 22, as well as the killing of a 72-year-old mechanic in Chailland, Mayenne - around 100km north of Angers - on Sunday (July 2).
Multiple crimes believed to be related
The prisoner was granted temporary leave from prison to retrieve administrative documents, but police believe he instead took a train from Argentan (in Normandy) to Angers on June 20, according to BFMTV.
On June 22, a 40-year-old woman was found dead in her apartment in Angers, after being strangled – her ex-partner was housed in the same prison as the escaped fugitive and she had visited him in prison previously.
On Saturday evening (July 1), a car was found burning in Cantenay-Épinard, Maine-et-Loire.
The next morning, the 72-year-old owner of the vehicle – a former mechanic and town councillor in Chailland – was found dead in his home.
On top of these murders, a 26-year-old pregnant woman from Chailland was the victim of burglary, as well as attempted theft of her vehicle and attempted strangulation on June 28.
A passerby intervened, calling the police, with the aggressor escaping into a nearby forest.
“We suspect that all these events are linked,” said Eric Bouillard, the public prosecutor of Angers.
Local residents were instructed to ‘lock their doors’
The commander of the Maine-et-Loire gendarmerie Colonel Tanguy Landais said 52 gendarmes had joined the search for the fugitive on Tuesday, alongside a number of local police officers.
Officers searched at least 400 buildings in the area in their hunt, and the search was concentrated around a number of communes north of Angers – Avrillé, Montreuil-Juigné and Cantenay-Épinard.
The suspect presented a "dangerous criminological profile (...) He must be apprehended before another tragedy,” added the public prosecutor during Monday evening’s conference, before he was caught, adding that local residents should ‘lock their doors’ to protect themselves.
Anyone with information about the investigation has been asked to call 0800 877 668, although the individual has now been recaptured.