An ex-companion of the accused painted an ambiguous portrait of him.
The Somme Assize Court examined Thursday, June 10, the confessions of Jacques Rançon for the murder of Isabelle Mesnage, on which he retracted and which, for the defense, does not coincide with the facts.
These confessions, made in June 2019, at the seventh and last custody hearing of Jacques Rançon, implicated in this “cold case” dating from 1986, took the investigators by surprise. Laure Brunel-Dupin, behavioral analyst for the gendarmerie, described “Confessions that come suddenly”, in a form “quite rare”, without the slightest change of tone.
In the midst of the confession, the suspect “Had a moment’s pause and asked if he should invent. We told him not to invent but to continue his story “, indicated Hervé Gobourg, gendarme who led the investigations relaunched in 2018 after the establishment of a possible link between the murder of Isabelle Mesnage and the crimes committed in Perpignan by Jacques Rançon, in 1997 and 1998.
“No confessions at all costs”
He finally recounted having raped Isabelle Mesnage in her car, having strangled her, then having cut her penis and her breasts to erase her DNA. He had repeated his confession before the examining magistrate, before retracting by mail, claiming to have confessed so that he would be left alone.
“It wasn’t confessions at all costs”, assured Hervé Gobourg. But “In these confessions, I find a lot of Moktaria Chaïb”, one of the two victims of Perpignan, “And not a lot of Isabelle Mesnage”, launched for the defense Me Xavier Capelet. The investigators repeated to him “36 times” that the mutilations of the bodies of Moktaria and Isabelle were strictly identical, he accuses, pointing out that Isabelle did not have her breasts cut, or at least not entirely.
The photos of the two mutilated bodies were distributed, as well as a map showing the proximity of the place of discovery of Isabelle’s body and those of an attempted kidnapping and rape committed by Jacques Rançon. Lawyers for the 61-year-old former forklift operator claim that the second investigation was conducted against the “Killer of Perpignan station”, sentenced to life imprisonment in 2018.
Several testimonies came to complete Thursday the portrait of this man described since Tuesday as silent, “Crude”, “primary”, giving in to his sexual urges. On the contrary, friends of youth evoked a man nicknamed “Teddy bear”, “nice” and “helpful”. A friend claiming to be his “confidant” at the time remembered that this shy who was too fat “Cried [quand une fille le rejetait] saying that no one would ever want to go out with him, like a child who does not have his toy ”.
His partner in 1986 and mother of his first child, Carole, whom the accused described on Tuesday as a “great love”, draws a much more ambiguous portrait. In a soft voice, she begins by portraying a Ransom “kind” at the start of their relationship and says he has it “Shoved only once”.
Then, questioned by Me Didier Seban for the civil parties, remembers that he slapped her because she watched a «ex». Pushed down the stairs when she was pregnant. Pursued by car when she left him, then watched behind a tree and strangled. On the other hand, she assures that she has never suffered sexual violence.
A former victim at the helm
A former victim, Virginie, provided a chilling testimony by videoconference: Jacques Rançon strangled her in a park in Amiens one night in August 1999, before trying to load her into his car.
In an attempt to save herself, she lets him stroke her chest. So “He said to me ‘go away, go away quickly'”, she said, still traumatized. “I’m sorry for what I did to him”, apologized the accused, fists on the hips, without showing any emotion.
But to Me Seban who asks him if he never draws a lesson from his convictions, whereas he had already been convicted before these facts for rape with a weapon and for having threatened a woman with a knife, he answers: “I do not think so”.