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‘He had scratch marks on his face’: Witness comes forward with ‘crucial new evidence’ in ‘cold case’ murder of British student Joanna Parrish

‘He had scratch marks on his face’: Witness comes forward with ‘crucial new evidence’ in ‘cold case’ murder of British student Joanna Parrish

access_time June 21, 2012 chat_bubble_outline 0 comments
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  • 20-year-old beaten, raped and strangled while teaching in France in 1990
  • Woman tells police she remembers her ex-boyfriend coming home
  • Had ‘scratch marks on his face’ and was carrying similar bag to Joanna’s
  • Named only as TV, new suspect currently in jail for violent, sexual crimes

By Ian Sparks

PUBLISHED: 03:48 EST, 21 June 2012 | UPDATED: 03:55 EST, 21 June 2012

A witness has come forward with crucial new evidence in the ‘cold case’ murder of British student Joanna Parrish in France 22 years ago.

The 20-year-old was raped and strangled before her body was dumped in a river in Burgundy.

She had arranged to meet a man who had answered her newspaper advert offering private English lessons before she vanished.

Now a woman has told police how she remembers her ex-boyfriend returning home one evening in May 1990 with ‘scratch marks on his face’. 

Evidence: Joanna Parrish (left) was found raped and strangled in a river in 1990.  The new investigation is probing convicted killer Michel Fourniret (right) and a new suspect named only as TV

The witness, who was living in the same area of Burgundy near the River Yonne, said her former partner had also been carrying a similar denim bag to one Joanna was known to have owned.

A second woman who dated the same man ten years later has also told police that he boasted to her of having murdered a young woman in Burgundy in 1990.

The suspect – named only by his initials TV – is currently serving a prison sentence for separate offences and had now been quizzed by detectives, the regional L’Yonne newspaper reported.

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Didier Seban, the French lawyer for Joanna’s parents Roger and Pauline Parrish, described the latest development as a ‘serious lead’.

He told L’Yonne newspaper: ‘On the basis of this new evidence, which is still being verified, investigators are following up a serious new lead regarding a man with a long criminal past.

‘Joanna’s parents, who have often had the impression of being abandoned by the French justice system, have renewed hope of finally seeing a result to the inquiry.’

Roger and Pauline Parrish are still fighting for justice, 22 years on

Roger and Pauline Parrish are still fighting for justice, 22 years on

The investigation into the unsolved murder was re-opened on June 6 when detectives agreed to re-examine evidence against a second suspect, convicted serial killer Michel Fourniret.

Fourniret, 69, was dubbed the ‘Beast of the Ardennes’ after he strangled, shot or stabbed seven girls aged between 12 and 21 in remote rural spots in France and Belgium.

He was convicted of multiple murders and sentenced to life in prison in 2008.

Fourniret had been in the Yonne area of Burgundy when Joanna, from Newnham on Severn, Gloucestershire, was murdered,

But earlier attempts to prosecute him for her murder failed after police were accused of extracting evidence from his wife under duress.

Roger Parrish, 68, said after the latest evidence emerged: ‘We are very pleased. They said there are now two strands to the investigation.

‘One is Michel Fourniret and his ex-wife and there are many questions to be answered about that. The new lead we don’t know much about.

‘All I know is it’s a man who is serving a prison sentence for violent sexual crimes and in the investigations an informant told the police they suspected he was involved in Jo’s murder.’

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