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DNA clues reopen French boy murder case from 1984

</head> <body> <p>By Thierry Leveque</p> <p>PARIS (Reuters) - French detectives have found DNA traces on evidence from a child murder case that obsessed the nation in the 1980s, raising hopes that advances in genetic science could help identify the killer at last.</p> <p>Gregory Villemin, a 4-year-old boy, was found dead in October 1984 with his feet and hands bound in the Vologne river, near his home in a village in eastern France.</p> <p>The gruesome discovery set off a dramatic chain of events that became known simply as "the Gregory Affair" and gripped the French public, spilling more ink than any other crime in the country's 20th century history.</p> <p>Jean-Marie Beney, state prosecutor in the eastern town of Dijon, told Reuters on Thursday that DNA traces from a man and a woman were found on a threatening anonymous letter sent to Gregory's parents after the child's death.</p> <p>The discovery is significant because the letter was one of a series sent by a mysterious figure who claimed to be the killer.</p> <p>The writer, who became known as "the Crow" because of a colloquial expression designating those who send unsigned letters, has never been identified.</p> <p>Beney said that the DNA traces had been tested against those of Gregory's parents and they were not the same. The boy's mother, Christine Villemin, was once a suspect though she was cleared in 1993.</p> <p>The decision to reopen the bags of evidence collected during the original Gregory investigation and look for DNA was taken by a Dijon appeals court in December last year, at the request of the boy's parents.</p> <p>News that DNA had been found immediately shot to the top of all French radio and television news bulletins, showing that no one had forgotten the Gregory Affair.</p> <p>The child's uncle, Bernard Laroche, was initially charged before being freed after several key pieces of evidence against him were thrown out because of procedural errors by prosecutors.</p> <p>Convinced that Laroche was the murderer, Gregory's father Jean-Marie Villemin shot him dead and served four years in jail for the killing.</p> <p>During the same period, Christine Villemin became a suspect because witnesses said they had seen her at the post office the day a vengeful letter from the Crow was sent. She was placed under formal investigation but later cleared.</p> <p>"Your money won't give you back your son. That's my revenge, you bastard," the Crow wrote in the letter.</p> <p>In one of the infamous moments of the Gregory Affair, the avant-garde author Marguerite Duras wrote in the newspaper Liberation that Christine Villemin was guilty but argued that she was downtrodden by her husband and the murder was justified.</p> <p>In words that became a black mark on Duras's name, she wrote that Christine Villemin was "sublime, obviously sublime."</p> <p>(Writing by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Philippa Fletcher)</p> </body> </html> </div><!-- end article-body --> </div><!-- end aticle-body-wrapper --> <aside> <ul class="social-share-btns clearfix"> <li><g:plusone size="medium" href="http://wsau.com/news/articles/2009/oct/22/dna-clues-reopen-french-boy-murder-case-from-1984/"></g:plusone></li> <li><div id="fb-root"></div><script src="http://connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#appId=112315878855956&xfbml=1"></script><fb:like 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