A 48-year-old man was indicted this Thursday, June 18, for the rape and murder of an 85-year-old retiree whose body was found mutilated on June 9, 2019, in Saint-Laurent-de-la-Prée, at the gates of Rochefort (Charente-Maritime). According to the La Rochelle public prosecutor's office, he is the guardian of the residence for the elderly where the victim owned an individual apartment. Unknown until then by the police, this forty-something man still occupied this position Tuesday, at the time of his arrest. The website of the residence opened in 2013 also boasts among its services the presence of a "gardener-gardener".
The affair had started with the disappearance of Françoise Vrillaud. On May 22, 2019, her family, who came to visit her, had reported the unusual absence of this energetic and very committed retiree. Significant research had then been carried out in the commune, with the reinforcement of around forty students from the gendarmerie school, dog teams and a helicopter. An operation remained without result until the discovery by two walkers of a body without head or hands, hidden under branches, in a wood located less than three kilometers from the residence. The autopsy confirmed the identity of the body and the use of one or more blunt and sharp elements.
A mutilated body to "delay identification"
Faced with investigators as well as before the investigating judge, "the applicant admitted the rape and murder of the victim. In a panic, he would later mutilate the body to delay his identification, "said Thursday Julien Wattebled, the deputy prosecutor of La Rochelle. The soldiers of the Poitiers (Vienne) research section and of the Rochefort brigade were probably interested for a long time in this man "who had adopted suspicious behavior when the death was announced, and whose DNA was found in the deceased's home ". At the time, no trace of blood had been found in this apartment, nor any sign of a break-in. Françoise Vrillaud's bank account had not recorded any movement and her vehicle was still parked in front of the residence. Since then, nothing had filtered from this particularly locked investigation.
Octogenarian with blue eyes, Françoise Vrillaud led a busy life to the point of drama. A follower of walks, she walked regularly in the swamp where her body was found behind a recycling center. The retired woman, who often attended the municipal council, had also joined the Council of Elders of this village bordering the Charente river. According to the daily Sud Ouest, Françoise Vrillaud was also to serve as an assessor at a polling station during the European elections scheduled for the week of her disappearance.
The guardian of the residence was placed in pre-trial detention. Put on charges of murder, rape and attack on the integrity of a corpse, he now faces life imprisonment.