Police are appealing for witnesses to help identify a cyclist who was hit by a car whose driver was then accused of killing her with a shovel – although the body of the deceased has not been found.
The driver has been questioned and has appeared in court but in addition to the body not being found no missing person has been reported. Yet, investigators still believe that a crime has taken place.
The gendarmerie nationale called for witnesses in the north Évreux (Normandy) area. They believe that the driver hit the cyclist, killed her with a shovel, and then hid the body.
The crime is said to date to March, but gendarmerie began investigating only two months later, when a woman went to the gendarmerie station in Dieppe, Normandy, to report a murder.
She accused her ex-partner, a 46-year-old carpenter.
The prosecutor of Évreux, Rémi Coutin, described the event in a press conference this week. He said that the crime is thought to have taken place on March 9, with the alleged timeline as follows:
- March 9: The driver called his ex-partner in a drunken panic, to say that he had just been in an accident on a road in Eure. He finally said that he had hit a cyclist, but that the victim was in good health.
- The ex-partner said that one of her friends contacted her to say that they had passed by the driver’s house, and had taken photos of the windscreen of his Audi, which she said looked suspicious. In these photos, a “large circular impact” dent can be seen, with “a red mark in the centre”.
- The woman contacted the local gendarmerie in Bourgtheroulde, to ask if they were aware of a cyclist accident in the area. The gendarmerie had received no such reports and was not aware of any incidents.
- March 12: The woman went to her ex-partner’s house and said she herself could see what looked like “traces of blood” on the right side of the car
- March 13: The woman questioned her ex-partner and he admitted that he had hit the cyclist when he was drunk. The cyclist was a woman in her 60s, who looked like “a tramp”, the man said
- March 13: The man admitted that after having hit the cyclist, he put the bike and her body in his boot, and went to look for a spade to bury her. Upon coming back, he realised that she was still alive, and so finished her off with “several spade hits”, the prosecutor said.
The gendarmerie inquiry opened after several pieces of evidence corroborated the ex-partner’s story, especially the photos of the car found on her smartphone.
Another woman, who said she had had a brief relationship with the man accused, said that he had also told her that “he was not well in the head, because he had knocked down an old lady when at the wheel of his car, and had killed her before burying her”.
The gendarmerie also pointed to another fact: they found the man’s car burned out and abandoned. The man had reported it as stolen.
Murder inquiry: Accused says he ‘wanted to make a joke’
On May 24, the Évreux prosecutor opened an investigation into an alleged murder, involuntary injury by a driver, concealment of a corpse, and destruction of evidence.
The man was arrested and placed in police custody on June 21. At first, he said that he wanted to “make a joke” to his ex-partner, so that she would take pity on him and come to live with him again.
He later changed his story and said that he voluntarily damaged his car with a weight, and had spread ketchup and chicken blood on the vehicle. When confronted with the photos of his vehicle, he said that he had hit a cyclist, who was able to cycle away afterwards.
During his questioning, he then admitted to having burned his car himself, but answered no further questions. He is now in custody.
In more questioning on November 10, he changed his version again, and said that he had invented the entire story, so that his ex-partner would take pity on him.
No body found
The investigation is still ongoing, with investigators still yet to find a body.
Mr Coutin said: “Searches have been done but remain fruitless.” Similarly, no missing persons report has been filed, in Eure or in neighbouring departments. The European law enforcement agency Europol has also been informed, but no report has been received.
The gendarmerie is calling for witnesses to gather more information about the victim of the crime, which they “believe did take place”.
They say that they believe the deceased may not have been reported missing because she could be someone living alone, isolated, or could have just been passing through Eure. They also said she could be someone with two homes, who would not be noticed as missing by neighbours.
Anyone with any information that could lead to the victim’s identification is invited to contact the investigation sector of the Homicides group in Rouen, on 07 77 20 64 00, or by email on email@example.com.