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  • Writer's pictureElsa Moreira

Jean-Michel and Jean-Louis Jourdain: the recidivists

Hi everyone, I hope you're doing okay ! Today, I'm going to tell you about two guys who managed to commit a horrible quadruple murder when they shouldn't even have been out to begin with. Without further introduction, I present to you the Jourdain brothers !

The best day of the year

This case begins on February 11th, 1997 in The Portel, a small city near Boulogne-sur-Mer, in nothern France. 20-year-old Peggy Merlin and her sister, 16-year-old Amélie, are getting ready for the final day of the yearly carnival. This year is extra special for them, because they get to make their friends, Isabelle, 20, and Audrey Ruffin, 17, discover the carnival.

Once they are ready, they kiss their mom on the cheek and go meet their friends. They laugh, they drink, they dance...and then they disappear.

Don't worry, they ran away...

Peggy and Amélie Merlin's mother is waiting for the four girls to eat breakfast, but the girls never show up. She calls Isabelle and Audrey Ruffin's mother, who says that she hasn't seen them either. As the day passes, the two mothers are more and more worried. They have called everybody they know, no one as seen them.

Finally, the two families go to the police station in Boulogne-sur-Mer, where the police officers basically tell them "don't worry, they are probably hungover on one of their friends' couch" even though the two mothers had told them that they had called all of their friends and the girls were nowhere to be found. The police officers then accepted to open a file on them, but only under the "Runaway" label, basically leaving the work to the families.

The first clues

The two families start searching everywhere for the girls: beaches abandoned tunnels and buildings, former WWII bunkers...nothing. They print little flyers with Isabelle and Audrey's mom's number on them and put them everywhere in the region. Soon, people are calling and telling them about a white truck with green stripes that was seen around the carnival creeping up on people. The families return to the police station with this information, but the police officers are still convinced that the girls ran away, so the families turn to media outlets, and a newspaper accepts to publish the girls' missing poster, as well as the creepy truck's description.

After that, more people start calling about the white truck with the green stripes, and the police finally start taking things a little more seriously. Investigators from the Lille precinct are put on the case and an official number for tips is put in place.

The two suspects

On February 17th, a woman calls Isabelle and Audrey's mother about the white truck. She tells them that it belongs to the Jourdain brothers, and that they live in Dannes, 20km away from The Portel. She also says that they are known for violence against women.

As soon as they hear that, the missing girls' friends jump in a car and go straight to Dannes. They see the mess that the Jourdain brothers are living in (family of 9 in a 3-room house without running water) and call the cops immediately. For those that expect a SWAT team breaking open doors and hauling people out...NAH. Two cops came, they looked at the place from afar, and went home. Yay, police work !

Now that they are suspects, let's talk a bit about the Jourdain brothers:

  1. Jean-Louis was born on June 21st, 1959. He had been convicted three times for sexual assaults and got out early for good behavior. He looks like a frisbee with down syndrome.

Jean-Louis Jourdain

  1. Jean-Michel was born on January 30th, 1962. He had been convicted for sexual assault, shooting his father and the murder of a woman, but someone he got out seven years early.(?????) He looks like a can of beer that somehow grew a mustache.

Jean-Michel Jourdain

On February 18th, someone anonymously calls the police to disclose the location of the white truck with the green stripes. Once the police has gotten a hold of it, they reach out to the owner listed on the matriculation registry, who says that he sold the truck to Jean-Michel Jourdain. With that information, the police has enough to arrest the brothers, which they do on the 20th.

The arrest and the confession

In the interrogation room, the Jourdain brothers are completely silent. They aren't new to this, so they know that if they keep their mouths shut long enough, the investigators will have to release them. The investigators know that too (obviously) so they try absolutely everything to make them talk.

Jean-Louis is the first one to crack. When one of the investigators mentions his dead sister, he leans back and says "they can't be helped now". And three seconds later, he's convulsing on the floor. Lucky for the investigation, the detectives don't give a fuck about that and give a pen and paper. He draws the location where the girls are buried and as soon as they can, the detectives take him there, on the Sainte-Cécile beach. He guides them to the top of a dune and points to the sand. So they dig. And as they find the bodies of Peggy, Amélie, Isabelle and Audrey, Jean-Louis Jourdain plays with a police dog.

The rage and the trial

As soon as the case is published in the mainstream media, the the whole country erupts in rage. The Jourdain clan has to be evacuated by armed forces, and the day after they leave, their house (if it can be called that) in burned down. Everyone wants their head on a stick and the rage hasn't died down when the trial starts on October 16th, 2000.

The brothers behave in court like they behaved in the interrogation room. They are completely silent and regularly start staring battles with the victims' families. They only answer questions with "yes", "no" or "I don't know".

We learn during the trial that before the carnival, the brothers had tried to kidnap a woman with their newly acquired truck, but had backed off after seeing that the woman in question was accompanied by a man. This episode proved the premeditation of the quadruple murder.

After five hours of deliberation, the jury returns with a guilty verdict. Jean-Louis is sentenced to 20 to life, while Jean-Michel is sentenced to 22 to life.

Jean-Louis died on March 6th, 2019 from natural causes, and Jean-Michel is still rotting in a cell, brushing his mustache.

That’s it for today ! Don’t hesitate and tell me what you think about this case on Reddit (r/Murder_Wine_Cheese), and if you want to make a suggestion or a donation, everything is on the homepage (you can switch it to English). I’ll see you on the next article !

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