Serial killing couple in France get life sentences

A court in France has sentenced a husband and wife to jail for life in a series of sex murders of girls and women between 12 and 21 years of age.

A court in France has convicted a man accused of being one of the country's worst serial killers and sentenced him to life in prison without parole, while sending his wife and accomplice to jail for at least 28 years.

Monique Olivier and her husband Michel Fourniret, who hunted for young girls and women to rape and kill, are shown in 2008 file photos. ((Denis Charlet/Associated Press))

The court, in Charlevilles-Mézières, near the border with Belgium, found 66-year-old Michel Fourniret guilty of rape, murder and kidnappings in the deaths of seven girls and women between 1987 and 2003.

The court heard testimony that Fourniret's wife, Monique Olivier, had helped him hunt for young virgins and found her guilty of complicity in several of his murders and kidnappings.

The couples' victims were between 12 and 21 years old. They were strangled, shot or stabbed with a screwdriver.

The lead prosecutor in the case called Olivier a "witch," while Fourniret's court-appointed lawyer described him Tuesday as "indefensible."

Michel Fourniret and his wife Monique Olivier were sentenced to life in prison Wednesday in one of France's biggest serial-killing cases. ((Bruno Arnold/Associated Press) )

Fourniret, who had admitted to his crimes and said he would not appeal, operated mostly in the heavily wooded Ardennes region of northern France and in Belgium.

CBC's David Common in Paris said the case bears a resemblance to the infamous Canadian case involving Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka.

Common said European police are looking into the possibility that Fourniret and Olivier ranged farther afield in their search for victims.

"There are investigators in Belgium and in the United Kingdom who are looking into cold cases from many years back," he said. "So they want to talk to [Fourniret] about sexual assaults and murders to see whether this serial killing is that much worse than many people think."

Common said the convicted couple met when Fourniret was already in jail, serving time for earlier sex crimes.