In the Anglophone world, the name Patrice Alegre is far from well known. This monster spent almost a decade preying on women in the southern French city of Toulouse. Alegre would have just been another psychopathic killer in France if not for his supposed links to a conspiracy involving the European elite, drugs, and accusations of a secretive pedophile network.
The crimes of Patrice Alegre so rocked French society that some talked in the early 2000s about mass insurrection against Paris. In a nation with a revolutionary history, such talk is not idle. Alegre, a lust killer, became the centerpiece of a murder story that tantalizingly promised to reveal evil deeds carried out by the supposed pillars of European society.
Patrice Alegre was born in Toulouse in 1968. These days, Toulouse is infamous as one of the most violent cities in all of France. Toulouse in 1968 was little better. Life inside the Alegre household was equally terrifying.
Patrice was the eldest son of a young couple. His father was a member of the reserve arm of the French National Police. His mother was a hairdresser. Patrice’s parents never wanted children in the first place, and they often took out their frustrations on their children.
Patrice’s father frequently beat him without mercy. When he wasn’t abusing Patrice or his wife, Patrice’s father carried on extramarital affairs and drank himself to death.
As for Patrice’s mother, she gave her son plenty of affection. However, she also worked as a prostitute and used Patrice as her lookout during the times when she was with a customer. Patrice would later tell a court that he rarely watched his mother having sex, but he always heard the sounds of her sleeping with strange men.
Before becoming a serial killer, Alegre lived the life of an aimless and abused kid. At age 14, he moved in with his grandparents. Patrice began committing petty crimes around this time. By age 16, he was a drug addict who had already been convicted of his first sexual assault.
At age 20, Patrice met and married a woman named Cecile Chambert. The couple then had a daughter named Anais. Patrice tried to provide for his family by working a series of odd jobs, but he eventually settled on working at a cafe near the Toulouse train station. Patrice also repeated the sins of his father by drunkenly beating his wife and occasionally carrying on affairs behind her back.
The first-known victim of Patrice Alegre was 22-year-old Valerie Tarriote. The rape and murder of Tarriote would set the pattern for the rest of Alegre’s murders: She was a brunette, was sexually assaulted prior to death, knew Alegre somehow, and initially refused to have sex with Alegre before he attacked her. Another commonality in all the murders is that Alegre was almost always drunk during the commission of the crimes.
Patrice reportedly met Valerie at the Toulouse café, where she worked as a waitress. Patrice was sexually attracted to her, and on the night of February 22, 1989, he asked Valerie to have sex with him. When she said no, Patrice forced his way into her home, violently raped her, and then used a scarf to strangle her to death.
Police ultimately found Tarriote’s nude corpse on her own bed. Her hands were bound to the bed, and the killer had stuffed underwear into her nose and throat.
Nineteen-year-old Laure Martinet did not live to see January 25, 1990. The night before, Martinet was killed by her neighbor, who just happened to be Patrice Alegre.
At the time of this killing, Alegre lived in Saint Genies-Bellevue, a small commune in southwestern France. Like all his victims, Martinet was raped, beaten severely, and strangled.
Alegre’s thirst for sex and violence seemed to be satiated for seven years. He would not commit another known murder until February 1997. This time, the victim was 29-year-old Martine Matias. Alegre raped and strangled her. Then he decided to try to burn up her entire body.
Police not only found that Martine’s killer had set two fires in her home, but he had also left behind traces of her blood in the bathroom and a piece of a semiautomatic pistol in the living room.
The coroner in the case also concluded that Martine’s killer had given her chloroform prior to her death. Despite these clues, the coroner initially tried to rule Martine’s death as a suicide.
The murder of Mireille Normand broke at least a few of Alegre’s patterns. First, Normand was much older than Alegre’s other victims. At the time of her murder in 1997, Normand was 36 years old. Also, unlike the other killings, which either took place in Toulouse or in southern France, Normand was killed in the northeastern city of Verdun.
Alegre’s final murder occurred on either September 3 or 4, 1997. The last victim, 31-year-old Isabelle Chicherie (some French language sources put her age as 28), was raped and attacked inside her apartment.
Alegre reportedly left around 4:00 AM and later returned to set the apartment on fire. The fire quickly came to the attention of the Parisian police. At the crime scene, investigators found conclusive proof that Isabelle had been sexually assaulted by her attacker. Just a few days later, Alegre was placed in handcuffs by police, who discovered several items belonging to Isabelle Chicherie in his possession.
While in police custody, Alegre proved to be a very talkative criminal. He first admitted to detectives that he had tried to strangle one of his girlfriends when he was just 17. Next, Alegre admitted that he was responsible for the five murders attributed to him. He also admitted to two other murders.
Alegre said that his two other victims were prostitutes, one of whom was a transvestite named Claude Martinez. Prior to receiving a life sentence in February 2002, Patrice Alegre hinted that he may have killed over 30 victims between 1989 and 1997. This high body count, however, was not the most shocking confession that Alegre made at his trial.
By 1997, Alegre no longer worked at the cafe near the Toulouse train station. He had graduated to working as a bouncer at a popular dance club. He supplemented this income by also working as a pimp providing prostitutes to johns in Toulouse, Paris, and beyond. It was in this capacity that Alegre supposedly met several influential French citizens.
During his trial, Alegre said that his job was to provide prostitutes to S&M parties run out of a chateau. The chateau was publicly owned and therefore technically the property of the government of Toulouse.
Two prostitutes named Fanny and Patricia came forward during Alegre’s trial to confirm his claims. Fanny told investigators that she saw Alegre strangle two other prostitutes at these sadomasochistic parties. Fanny, Patricia, and Alegre all said that these orgies were attended by magistrates, police officers, and politicians.
Alegre’s statements about drug-fueled sex orgies in chateaus rankled plenty of feathers. One of the people named by Alegre was former mayor of Toulouse Dominique Baudis, who fought against the allegations. Baudis accused Alegre of smearing his name because of his attempts to ban the distribution of pornography in Toulouse.
While Baudis managed to clear his name somewhat by confronting Alegre in court, there were other chilling hints that certain members of the city’s high society were indeed involved in sex crimes.
Beginning in 1997, a special homicide squad was formed in Toulouse to investigate all of the 115 missing females who had disappeared from the city since 1992. Alegre was active in the city during the time, and it is possible that he may have been responsible for some of these disappearances.
Whatever the truth, Alegre’s statements managed to convince many in the French public that the leaders in Toulouse were up to something at that chateau.
On April 1, 2003, the Toulouse-based prostitute called “Patricia” told the French newspaper Le Figaro that Alegre managed to commit so many crimes because he had police protection.
Patricia told the newspaper that she had been interviewed by Homicide 31, the special unit tasked with solving the city’s many disappearances. Patricia said that several officers had expressed their horror that some of Alegre’s crimes were originally categorized as suicides despite the obvious indications of murder.
Patricia further stated in the newspaper interview that Alegre was protected by two police officials and several judges. These men wanted to keep Alegre’s crimes quiet because he was a member of a circle of pimps, drug dealers, and racketeers. Patricia said that this ring included police officers.
The final revelation of Patricia’s interview was her contention that Alegre was hired to procure underage girls for use as models for the production of child pornography. Patricia said that Alegre had killed Claude Martinez because Alegre’s protectors worried that the pictures taken of Martinez were about to fall into the hands of clean detectives.
Alegre’s allegations astounded the French public between 2002 and 2003. However, such allegations have been made in connection to other cases involving pedophilia and child murder.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Belgian serial killer and pedophile Marc Dutroux killed at least five young girls and may have killed many more. Dutroux, who lived in the French-speaking and working class city of Charleroi, purportedly wanted to build an underground city populated by his child victims.
Following his arrest in 1996, Dutroux and his legal team claimed that Dutroux had provided underage girls to wealthy clients in both Belgium and France. Dutroux’s claim took a very strange turn when at least 20 potential witnesses died mysteriously before they could testify.
One of the people who bravely came forward was Regina Louf, a young woman who claimed that Dutroux frequented sex parties that included young children, sadomasochism, and drugs. Louf claimed that the pedophiles who used Dutroux as a courier included several prominent politicians and businessmen. But she was quickly cast aside as “nuts.”
In 2018, Detroit native and licensed private investigator J. Reuben Appelman published a book entitled The Kill Jar. This book claims that the Oakland County Child Killer (OCCK) case involved a pedophile ring that included several prominent citizens of Detroit.
Appelman and others have noted that one of the strongest OCCK suspects was Christopher Busch, the son of a General Motors executive who was himself occasionally accused of being a pedophile. In an interesting connection, Christopher Busch, a convicted sex offender, had attended the expensive Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland.
At Le Rosey, Busch rubbed shoulders with European nobility, the sons of Middle Eastern sheiks, and the sons of American millionaires. Busch taught at the school for a brief time.
Like the possible cover-ups during the Alegre crimes, Busch’s “suicide” in 1978 indicated that he may have been murdered to keep the full truth of the OCCK case quiet.
Benjamin Welton is a writer based in Boston.