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Former Public Enemy No. 1 Killed by Police

December 10, 1990

ALENCON, France (AP) _ Police killed a man once considered France’s public enemy No. 1 during a robbery attempt at the home of an elderly widow, officials said Monday.

A policeman was wounded in the abdomen in the exchange of gunfire Sunday night, and Jean-Charles Willoquet, 46, was killed by a bullet to the head, officials said.

Willoquet was granted early release last year from a prison term imposed after he was convicted of attempted murder and hostage taking during a 1975 escape.

On Sunday, he and an accomplice entered the Normandy home of Rosa Kahn, 81, representing themselves as policemen investigating a band of thieves, police said. A young girl called police after hearing cries from Mrs. Kahn, who was beaten.

In the ensuing gunfire, Willoquet died, the policeman was wounded and Willoquet’s accomplice escaped in a car.

Willoquet was first arrested in 1968, when police said he was working by day as a hair stylist and burglarizing chateaux in the Loire Valley in his free time. He was sentenced to five years in prison, with three years suspended.

He was arrested again in 1974 in Paris in connection with 11 armed attacks and a dozen racketeering charges.

During his trial in 1975, he earned a reputation as public enemy No. 1 by escaping from the Palais de Justice with the aid of his wife, who entered the hearing room disguised in the black robe of a French lawyer.

She took out a grenade and passed her husband a pistol. Willoquet took the judge and his assistant hostage and fled, wounding two gendarmes. He was captured a year later, months after his wife was apprehended.

He was sentenced to serve two concurrent 20-year terms and was freed after 14 years. He wrote a book, ″Anything To Be Free,″ while serving time.