Inquiry into the death of Uni student will reopen
French Investigators will reopen an inquiry into the unsolved murder of Leeds University language student Joanna Parrish after new evidence has surfaced after 22 years.
The body of Miss Parrish, who was 20 years old at the time, was found in the river at Auxerre in Burgundy. She had been abducted after placing an advertisement in a local newspaper offering English lessons, and had been raped, beaten and strangled.
And, although two decades have passed sicne the tragedy, on Tuesday it was announced that the Paris court of appeal had overturned this decision and ordered investigative judges to “make new inquiries in all directions … including a new line of inquiry that has just been discovered”.
Didier Seban, the Parrish family lawyer, said the new evidence concerned “a man with a serious criminal record” whose name had been given to the police. “Joanna’s parents, who have often had the impression of being abandoned by the French justice system, have renewed hope of finally seeing a result to the inquiry,” Mr Seban told.
The lawyer added that investigators had DNA evidence that could produce new leads.
At the time of the incident, Parrish’s parents – Roger and former wife Pauline – accused French police of losing vital evidence. They further said that they believed serial killer Michel Fourniret, a 69-year-old former forest ranger who was convicted of the murder and rape of seven girls and young women in France and Belgium in 2008, was responsible for their daughter’s death.
Fourniret’s wife, Monique Oliver, twice told investigators he had killed Parrish, but the murderer, serving life imprisonment, has always denied any involvement in her death. Olivier was also given a life sentence for complicity in murder for assisting Fourniret in his crimes.
Joanna’s parents vowed not to give up until the murderer was identified. They were devastated when French judges closed the case in 2010, saying there was “no case to answer” against Fourniret, who was nicknamed The Beast of Ardennes.
At Fourniret’s trial in 2008, Roger Parrish, 68, a retired civil servant, said his family had been “living a nightmare”.
“But we will find the answer and will not abandon our fight for the truth … All we want to know is who killed our daughter,” he told French journalists.