Suspect Confesses to 14 Murders of Elderly Women
PARIS (AP) _ A suspect confessed Wednesday to killing 14 of the 38 elderly women who have been smothered, strangled or stabbed to death in Paris since 1984, police said.
Fingerprints found in the homes of seven murder victims matched those of Thierry Paulin, 24, who was arrested Tuesday, police said.
A spokeswomman said he apparently approached the women on the street and, if they were not nice to him, followed them home and killed them.
During questioning Wednesday, Paulin confessed to 14 killings between October 1984 and January 1986, investigators said.
About half of those women lived within a 1,600-yard radius of the Montmartre hilltop on which the Basilica of Sacre Coeur stands.
Police spokeswoman Marie-Laurence Roy said Paulin, a native of the French Caribbean island of Martinique, may be responsible for more of the murders. All the victims were women from 60 to 83 years old, and nearly all were severely beaten.
Paulin has a record of arrests for theft and drugs, police said, but the killings did not appear linked exclusively to money.
″It’s hard to say. Certainly money was involved, but there was something else,″ Ms. Roy said. She added that robbery seemed to be Paulin’s sole source of income.
″He is just starting to talk, but it seems that he tried to make conversation on the street with the women, who were not very nice to him,″ she said. ″So he followed them home and killed them.″
She said Paulin did not resist arrest, was relaxed during questioning and ″had trouble distinguishing between all the attacks he had committed.″
Another man suspected of being Paulin’s accomplice in at least one killing in 1984 was arrested Wednesday.
Jean-Thierry Mathurin, a 22-year-old native of Guyana on South America’s north coast, is believed to have acted alone in a second murder of an elderly woman the same year, according to police.
Ms. Roy said Paulin was suspected in ″a good part″ of the 38 murders committed since 1984, but not all. Police have been hesitant to link all the murders to the same killer or killers.
Most occurred in three groups during October-November 1984, late 1985-early 1986, and the most recent, in which four women have been killed since Oct. 20.
In an interview with The Associated Press last year, Commissaire Thierry Boulouque of the criminal police said it was ″the first time in France that we have had a great series of crimes like you hear about in the United States.″
He said some ″were carried out with an enormous amount of violence. You could even say torture. There were broken noses. Some victims were burned.″
After the latest killings, police again assembled a special multi-agency investigative team and circulated a description of the suspect.
An officer in the seedy St. Denis neighborhood stopped Paulin on the street Tuesday because he matched the description.
About 350,000 people 65 or older live in Paris, including 120,000 women over 75 who police describe as weak, easy to spot and follow, and often with cash at home.