'Ogre of the Ardennes' confesses to murdering Leeds languages student in France

A convicted serial killer has reportedly confessed to killing a University of Leeds student in France 27 years ago.

Joanna Parrish, 21, who was studying French, was raped and murdered in Auxerre in 1990, while working as an English teacher during her placement year abroad.

Convicted rapist and murderer Michel Fourniret, dubbed “the Ogre of the Ardennes”, had for a long time been the prime suspect in the brutal attack on the student.

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And according to Ms Parrish’s family lawyer the killer has finally admitted to her murder.

Lawyer Didier Seban said that over the past week Fourniret had appeared in court “two to three times” and admitted the killing on each occasion.

He added that Fourniret would now be questioned further, which “should lead to charges”.

Ms Parrish’s father, Roger Parrish, said the confession had come as a “shock” and that he hoped it was not another “false lead”.

In May 2008 Fourniret was sentenced to life in prison for the joint rape and murder of seven girls.

Joanna, who was from Gloucestershire, was just a week away from finishing her placement when she was found dead, having been raped and beaten and strangled. She had been working at a local school, and had also placed adverts in a newspaper in Auxerre offering private English lessons. She was lured to meet her killer outside a bank on the pretext of tutoring his son, but never returned from the appointment.

Her parents had been planning to visit her and take her belongings home before they got the devastating news. She had been intending to travel to Czechoslovakia, where her boyfriend and fellow student was spending his own year abroad, after leaving Burgundy.

In 2015 to mark the 25th anniversary of her death friends and relatives gathered in St George’s Fields to plant a cherry tree in her honour. A memorial plaque was also put up.

In 2007, another University of Leeds languages student, Meredith Kercher, was murdered in Italy during a sandwich year studying Italian at the University of Perugia.