Crimes,  France

Barrie Taylor, The American Woman Who Killed Her Lover’s Estranged Wife In France

In 2009, Barrie Taylor was sentenced to twenty years in prison by a French court. It took sixteen years for the French justice system to put behind bars this American criminal who put an end to her rival’s life in 1993, on French territory. Sixteen years playing cat-and-mouse with a devious woman whom French justice finally punished.

September 1993. A family’s destiny turned upside down

Barrie Taylor lived at Philippe Pavageau's
Barrie Taylor got arrested in September 1993, in Versailles

September 28th, 1993. Versailles, France. French police knocked on the door of a beautiful house in Versailles, the famous French royal town. A sweaty woman armed with a shovel opened the door. It was Barrie Taylor, an American known for being somewhat provocative and eccentric. The investigators were looking for Roxane Pavageau. And their search will end just a few yards from this front door.

A few yards further on, the police were interested in a specific area of the garden where a hole had been dug. The body of Roxane Pavageau was found in two trash bags in the staircase leading from the garden to the cellar a few minutes later. Her face had received some twenty blows. Roxane was Philippe Pavageau’s estranged wife and Philippe had an affair with Barrie. Roxane’s children had been looking for their mother for two days.

A murderer hard to deal with

A black and white photo of Barrie Taylor
Barrie Taylor

Roxane Pavageau, herself American-born, was a 53-year-old teacher at the Saint Germain en Laye international high school, a few kilometers from Versailles. Barrie Taylor proved a particularly difficult culprit with the French authorities. The American, who introduces herself as a lawyer, seems to have a very random memory. She studied law but never became a lawyer. In fact, investigators are even wondering whether she has been involved in prostitution since she arrived in France two years earlier.

The accused claimed self-defense, as Roxane Pavageau had arrived at her home in a rage and threatened her with a hammer. Taylor said she grabbed the hammer and struck Pavageau. Amazingly, she hit Pavageau with twenty blows, which seems extreme. And forensic evidence showed that Roxane Pavageau was in a sitting position when she was hit. Barrie Taylor was unable to say what she did with the hammer ; it has never been found to this day. The police fond bloodstains in the living room, proving that Taylor’s attack on Pavageau was offensive.

Roxane Pavageau was 53 when she got killed
Roxane Pavageau was a mother of 3

She was sent to prison pending investigation and trial. French justice being unjustifiably slow, she had to wait until 1998 to be tried. Her lawyer obtained her release months before the trial, as Taylor weighed only 36kg (79lbs) for 1.64 metres (5.4ft). Her passport was confiscated, but Taylor rushed to the American embassy, saying she had lost it and wanted to get another one to sue the French state. And the American authorities issued another passport.

In December 1998, she flew to Los Angeles, where she spoke out in the media about the investigating judge’s anti-Americanism, the abuse she had suffered in prison and from the French police. She went so far as to say that the judge refused to shake her hand because she was American. The investigation proved these allegations to be false. The investigation also proved that Roxane Pavageau was a discreet woman, very well integrated into French society and very peaceful despite her future ex-husband’s affair with her compatriot.

A long extraditory process

As France had signed an extradition treaty with the United States, the French judicial authorities initiated proceedings with the American authorities. In June 2000, Barrie Taylor was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment in absentia by a French court.

Despite the attentive ear of the American media, Taylor forgot that she was accused by the French justice system of having killed another American woman on French territory. And this is what convinced the American authorities to extradite her. In 2007, Barrie Taylor was put on a plane to Paris after serving time in a Californian prison from November 2003 to October 2007. On arrival on French soil, she was transferred to prison.

A provocative and merciless woman

Fleury Merogis prison in France
Barrie Taylor was jailed in
Fleury Merogis prison

Taylor and her lawyer made the decision to appeal the thirty-year prison sentence imposed in absentia. A new trial was held in April 2008 and Barrie Taylor’s sentence was reduced to 18 years’ imprisonment. The American decided to appeal. Her lawyer pled that it was impossible for this slim, short woman to kill Roxane Pavageau alone, as Taylor claimed to have amnesia about the two days between the murder and the arrival of the police on behalf of Roxane’s three children.

This did not convince the court, and Barrie Taylor’s sentence was increased to twenty years’ imprisonment. The accused’s lack of regret and her provocative, eccentric attitude were sanctioned by the court. As she had been imprisoned between October 1993 and May 1998 in France, between November 2003 and October 2007 in the USA and from November 2007 in Paris, Barrie Taylor was released in 2012 thanks to sentence remissions. She is now living in California.

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The Barrie Taylor – Roxane Pavageau case is a tragic story of love, betrayal, and murder. The case has been the subject of much public debate, with some arguing that Taylor was unfairly treated by the French justice system, while others believe that justice was served. I believe justice was served.

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