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French police investigate after attack by escaped ‘Pyrenees cannibal’

The victim of the attack said the man, a known cannibal and murderer, 'was there to kill me'

French police

French police have opened an investigation for attempted murder following an attack on a pensioner in Toulouse Pic: GERARD BOTTINO / Shutterstock

An investigation for attempted murder has been launched against a man - who is known for a gruesome act of murder and cannibalism in 2013 - after he attacked a pensioner in Toulouse on Wednesday (January 19), following his escape from a psychiatric hospital.

Jérémy Rimbaud, 34, known also as the cannibale des Pyrénées or the cannibale de Nouilhan, is a former soldier who suffers from severe mental disorders.

He has been in psychiatric hospitals since 2016, following a transfer from prison due to his mental state. 

But he managed to escape for several hours on Wednesday, and attacked a 72-year-old woman. 

“I was out walking my dog and I heard someone running. I turned around and it was this man coming at me with a huge stick. And then he started beating me. I screamed, I protected my head, because he was hitting my head with his arms,” the woman, identified as Françoise, told French media.  

"He was there to kill me."

Fortunately, a nearby neighbour had his window open and, after hearing her cries, ran to help. Other neighbours also came out to apprehend Rimbaud. 

Police and other emergency services arrived on the scene shortly after and Rimbaud was taken into police custody. 

He was returned to the hospital after police called in a specialist doctor to assess him and his identity was discovered. 

Françoise, who was hospitalised, suffered fractures to her arms and wounds to her head.

Who is Jérémy Rimbaud?

He is a former soldier who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder in 2013 after serving in Afghanistan. He also suffers from other psychological disorders. 

On November 15 of that year he attacked 90-year-old retired farmer Léopold Pébèbidau at his home in Nouilhan (Hautes-Pyrénées). He mistook the man for a member of the Taliban due to his delirious state.

Rimbaud cut out the tongue and heart of his victim and ate them. 

He was arrested and spent several years in prison before being placed in psychiatric care in 2016. 

How did he escape on Wednesday?

the Toulouse public prosecutor's office said that he “escaped the vigilance of the staff and left the establishment, without respecting the exit authorisations strictly provided for by his care programme”. 

No further details have been released as yet. 

What happens next?

An investigation for attempted murder has been opened by the Toulouse public prosecutor's office, aiming to establish the facts of the attack, including through means of pyschiatric expertise. 

Related stories:

Man, 22, shot dead by police on central Nice street during arrests

Are citizens arrests legal in France?

Family of ex-marine Carl Davies sets reward to find killer in Réunion

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