Traces of blood stain the courtyard of the pavilion. And in the entrance hall, a 34-year-old man lies on the ground, a bullet lodged in the back. The body was apparently moved. When they enter this house located on the heights of Trouville (Calvados), on the night of May 15 to 16, investigators from the Caen judicial police, alerted by a neighbor who heard a detonation, come face to face with a woman whose name has long haunted the corridors of their service: Valérie Levillain. "A woman of impressive hardness", describes a relative of the investigation.
Acquitted in a resounding murder case committed in 1998 near Honfleur, this 50-year-old is the occupant of the pavilion. She was arrested on the spot in the company of her daughter, her partner and her daughter-in-law. Only the three women, aged 30, 35 and 52, are indicted for "murder and complicity in murder" after police custody. They were locked up on Monday. But the circumstances of the crime like the motive remain unclear.
According to testimony, the victim arrived at Valérie Levillain's home with three other people shortly before midnight. After an argument, the fifties, leaning on the window of the 1st floor, would have fired with a rifle at the request of his daughter.
According to a police source, the murder could be set against a dispute over a derisory narcotic debt - the victim was known to the police - contracted by a relative of the suspects. "But that remains as it is an unverified rumor," warns the Caen prosecutor, Amélie Cladière, citing contradictory testimony. The three women varied in their statements.
The enigmatic crime of Equemauville, in 1998
Did Valérie Levillain find herself involved in a deadly conflict that goes beyond her? This situation strangely recalls the enigmatic crime of Equemauville for which she was suspected. In November 1998, the body of Gisèle Loquet, a 67-year-old retired restaurateur, was discovered consumed on her Norman farm, near the fireplace. The widow only has a piece of skull and… one foot still slipped into a red slipper.
The PC of Caen suspects his stepchildren because their relations with the victim are abysmal, especially since the death of their father three weeks earlier. In addition to a dispute over the succession, they accuse Gisèle Loquet of being "a stepmother" who mistreated them during their youth.
The investigation stalled until, a year later, Ghislaine Loquet, one of the victim's daughters-in-law, made an appointment with the investigators at her father's grave. "She tells us that it is because of her that Gisèle was killed, but she does not say that she killed her," recalls a former head of the Caen criminal brigade.
"A piece of the puzzle was missing"
Ghislaine Loquet says that the evening of the murder, she had dinner and drunk in Trouville with her brother's companion, a certain Valérie Levillain… Unable to sleep with her sister-in-law, she would have got up in the middle of the night and would have gone alone to Gisèle Loquet's in order to have a frank explanation. She suspects her mother-in-law has already rebuilt her life and intends to recover papers and jewelry belonging to her parents. An argument would have broken out. Ghislaine Loquet, an alcoholic, allegedly slapped her mother-in-law and then struck her with logs. But she swears: on leaving, the victim faltered but was still alive. She denies having set her body on fire.
The daughter-in-law was sentenced to seven years in prison in 2000 for assault resulting in death without the intention of giving it. "But for us, there was a piece missing from the puzzle," slips the ex-investigator of the PJ. The old lady did not ignite on her own! We talk about an accidental fire caused by a cigarette, or even… a mysterious spontaneous combustion since the living room was intact! But these theses are not convincing.
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The case rebounded suddenly in the late 2000s. Before the courts, a woman who had been reported for violence against her children turned on her accuser: "She did much worse! And to reveal that this friend in question, who is none other than Valérie Levillain, is wet in the crime of Equemauville in 1998.
Acquitted for the benefit of the doubt
The investigation is reopened. On wiretaps, Ghislaine Loquet, released from prison since, betrays herself. "The police know everything," she said to a loved one. To the investigators, the first accused ends up telling that Valérie Levillain was present during the murder of her stepmother. She claims that it was her sister-in-law who strangled the victim, then put her body in a chair before setting fire to a sheet connected to the fireplace. She would not have wanted to denounce her because she felt it was her fault that Gisèle Loquet had been killed, Valérie having no liabilities with her stepmother. Clearly, she had to pay alone.
Charged for murder, Valérie Levillain, from a family of nine children from Deauville and former employee in the catering and hotel industry on the coast, was judged at the Assizes of Calvados in 2014. “Yes, I was there. But I didn't hit Gisèle Loquet, ”she hammered at the hearing. The Advocate General claims 12 years in prison but the court and the jury acquit him for the benefit of the doubt. To the dismay of the investigators, who did not rule out "miscarriage of justice". The mystery of the Equemauville crime remains intact.