Crimes,  France,  Russia,  Serial killers,  USA

When police officers turn to the dark side: three portraits of law enforcement officers turned serial killers

three portraits of law enforcement officers turned serial killers

In the world of crime, some individuals have tipped over to the other side of the law, transforming themselves from representatives of order to ruthless killers. In this article, we take a look at three striking portraits that shed light on this dark transformation, revealing disturbing aspects of human nature and the complexities of the criminal psyche. Let’s discover together these fascinating stories that defy logic and raise profound questions about the duality of the human being.

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The Dark Confessions Of Gerard Schaefer: The Twisted Mind Of A Cop Hiding A Serial Killer

Gerqrd Schaefer killed women in Florida

The Gerard Schaefer case is an emblematic case of serial killing in the United States. Gerard John Schaefer Jr. was a former Florida police officer convicted of murdering two young women in 1973. He is suspected of numerous other murders, but has only been convicted of two. Schaefer was known for his sadistic behavior and psychopathic tendencies, which helped make him one of the most notorious criminals of his time. This case has aroused considerable interest in the field of criminology, and continues to be studied by many experts in criminal psychology.

Facts and background

Pamela Wells and Nancy Trotter escaped Gerard Schaefer in 1972

On July 21, 1972, in the suffocating heat of a Florida summer, Pamela Wells and Nancy Trotter were hitchhiking on the outskirts of Fort Pierce. They came across Martin County policeman Gerard Schaefer, who, in lieu of a ticket, took the two young women to a secluded spot before tying them to a tree and threatening them with death by yoking them with his service weapon. Schaefer received a call from dispatch and had to leave. He let the two young women know that he’d be back to play them. Despite their panic and the restraints on their limbs, Pamela and Nancy managed to escape. They reported the incident to the local authorities. Schaefer was arrested for kidnapping and assault. In November 1972, he was sentenced to one year’s imprisonment and three years’ probation. What the court didn’t know was that the policeman had done much worse in the meantime.

On September 27, 1972, Fort Lauderdale residents Susan Place and Georgia Jessup, aged 16 and 17, fell prey to a psychopathic police officer. The parents of the two teenagers told the police that their daughters had gotten into the blue-green Datsun of a certain Shepherd to go and play guitar on the beach. They remembered part of the car’s registration number. Seven months later, three walkers on Hutchinson Island stumbled upon two skeletons. Susan Place and Georgia Jessup were identified on the basis of their dental records. The two young women had been tied to a tree and tortured before being violently killed. Gerard Schaefer had been incarcerated since January 15, 1973, following his conviction in the Wells and Trotter case. His Datsun was found shortly after the bodies were discovered. The link with Schaefer was established.

Investigators searched his home. They were astonished to discover objects belonging to missing women, gold teeth and newspaper clippings, as well as a diary in which Gerard Schaefer had given free rein to his criminal fantasies in highly degrading terms and with illustrations demonstrating the great cruelty and perversion of his acts. The investigation linked Schaefer to 34 victims. But the lack of tangible evidence led to an indictment for only two murders, those of Place and Jessup. In October 1973, Gerard Schaefer was sentenced to two life terms in prison. His lawyers filed some twenty appeals, but were unsuccessful. From prison, Schaefer became very litigious, unsuccessfully suing a large number of people on sometimes spurious grounds, such as having been described by a writer as an overweight man. In 1995, Schaefer was stabbed to death forty times in the head and neck by fellow inmate Vincent Rivera.

The psychiatric drift of a psychologically tortured man

Gerard Schaefer was a police officer in Florida

Gerard Schaefer’s psychiatric profile is marked by psychopathic personality traits, characterized by a lack of empathy, a propensity for manipulation, emotional superficiality and impulsive behavior. The investigation also revealed that Schaefer used his position to commit criminal acts, taking advantage of the access and authority conferred by his status as a police officer. He had begun his career as a police officer in 1971, when he joined the police department in the small town of Wilton Manors, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale. With a mediocre performance, he was laid off after six months. In addition to his poor results, Schaefer had been in the hot seat after arresting female drivers in order to obtain their personal information. On June 23, 1972, he made his debut as a sheriff’s deputy in Martin County, some 30 miles north of Fort Lauderdale. Psychiatrists emphasized his paranoia, acute sexual perversion and extreme dangerousness.

François Vérove: The Enigmatic Career Of An Elusive Criminal Who Was A French Police Officer

François Vérove was a French serial killer

François Vérove was a former gendarme with the Garde Républicaine (Republican Guard) in Paris and ex-police motorcyclist in Montpellier. He committed suicide on September 29, 2021 in Le Grau-du-Roi, admitting to being the serial killer “Le Grêlé” (the acne-prone skin killer), who was active in the Île-de-France region in the 80s and 90s. He is responsible for at least three murders and six known rapes, using the Spanish garrote technique on his victims. The uncovering of Le Grêlé put an end to one of France’s oldest cold cases. However, Vérove’s suicide did not put an end to the legal proceedings, since the authorities doubt that he stopped his criminal activities after 1997.

Facts and background

Sketch of Le Grêlé who was a serial rapist and killer
Sketch of Le Grêlé

Paris, 19th district, May 5, 1986. The body of Cécile Bloch, aged 11, is discovered in the underground parking lot of the building where the Bloch family lives. Every lunchtime, Suzanne Bloch, the little girl’s mother, used to phone her daughter to make sure everything was going well before she went back to school in the afternoon, as Cécile didn’t have lunch in the school cafeteria with other students. That day, her daughter didn’t pick up the phone. After questioning the school staff, shopkeepers and neighbors, Suzanne and Jean-Pierre Bloch, Cécile’s parents, called the police. Meanwhile, the building’s janitor searched the common areas. Cécile’s body was found under a piece of old carpet in a third-basement utility room. The child had been raped, stabbed and strangled. A sperm sample was taken by the forensic police. By cross-checking various testimonies, the investigators realize that Cécile must have found herself alone in an elevator with a man unknown to the neighborhood and described as suffering from skin blemishes. A sketch was drawn up and the criminal was given the nickname “Le Grêlé”.

The investigators probed the police archives in an attempt to match the profile of Cécile’s killer to previously arrested individuals, based on the modus operandi observed and the anthropometric elements reported. Despite a thorough investigation, the case was dismissed by the courts in 1993. The criminal brigade decided to keep the case open.

Imgard Muller was a German au pair
Imgard Muller was murdered on April 29th, 1987

Paris, 4th district, April 29, 1987. The brigade criminelle discovered a crime scene of unprecedented violence: Irmgard Müller, a 20-year-old German au pair, and her employer, Gilles Politi, a 38-year-old Air France mechanic, were found with a large number of wounds. The young German woman was discovered almost completely naked, hanging by her arms from a bunk bed; beneath the belt of her bathrobe wrapped around her neck, her throat had been slit. The murder weapon, a kitchen knife, lying at her feet. Gilles Politi was found totally naked, lying on his stomach, his arms and feet tied behind his back with ties and belts. He had been strangled using the Spanish garrote technique: his bonds were twisted around a poker to use it as a spinner, compressing the victim’s limbs and neck. Cigarette burns were found on the bodies. The Spanish garrote was reminiscent of the killing of Cécile Bloch, and the same DNA was found at the scene. No forced entry was found, and the investigators concluded that one of the victims had opened the door for her executioner. Unfortunately, years went by and the investigation remained at a standstill.

Paris, 14th district, October 27, 1987. A 14-year-old girl was stopped by a policeman on the pretext of carrying out an investigation. Once inside the girl’s apartment, the man handcuffed and raped her, then burglarized the apartment and left, leaving the girl traumatized. In 1996, DNA samples taken during the investigation identifed Le Grêlé.

Mitry-Mory, June 29, 1994. Ingrid G., an 11-year-old cyclist, was abducted near a railway line by a man who told her he was a policeman. He told her to get into his car to drive her to the police station. The girl was driven to Saclay, more than an hour away, to an abandoned farm where she was tied up and raped for several hours.The man let her live. Once again, the DNA collected by the investigators is that of the man with the damaged skin.

Francois Verove took his own ,life a few days before a hearing in 2021
François Vérove committed suicide

After years of investigation and hundreds of leads analyzed, the investigation took a new turn in 2021 with the summoning of a tighter pool of gendarmes by investigating judge Nathalie Turquey. On September 24, François Vérove, one of the 750 recipients of the summons, committed suicide with a cocktail of barbiturates in a rented apartment in Le Grau-du-Roi. He had received a summons by telephone three days earlier, and the hearing was scheduled for October 6. Vérove’s interlocutor had stated that the summons was linked to a criminal case from the 80s, and that his DNA would be taken. François Vérove was Le Grêlé.He was 59 years old. In a posthumous letter, he claimed to have taken control of his life since 1997, curbing his criminal instincts in favor of a healthier, more stable life.

The devil in uniform

“He was a courteous and sympathetic person,” says the mayor of Prades-le-Lez, a commune in the Hérault region where Vérove joined the municipal council in 2019. That same year, he retired from the police department, which he joined in 1988 after five years as a gendarme in the Republican Guard cavalry. Between 1995 and 1999, François Vérove was on sick leave on numerous occasions due to depression. Although described as sometimes somewhat tormented by his superiors and colleagues, he was considered a serious and kind colleague. Contrary to the sketch widely circulated throughout France for years, Vérove had no acne scars.What is known is that he used his status as a law enforcement officer, displaying a police card and using professional equipment such as handcuffs, a walkie-talkie and his service weapon. Although to date he has not been linked to any post-1997 criminal cases, investigators doubt that he was inactive for nearly 25 years.In addition to the above cases, François Vérove is strongly suspected of having killed Karine Leroy, who disappeared on her way to school and whose body was found on the edge of a forest a few miles from Meaux, Ile de Frqnce, in the summer of 1994. The child had been killed using the Spanish garrote technique, with the aid of an electric wire and a piece of wood.

The Siberian hunter: into Mikhail Popkov’s troubled mind

Mikhail Popkov is a Russian serial killer

Mikhail Popkov, also known as “The Siberian Wolf”, is a Russian serial killer convicted of committing brutal murders. Born on March 7, 1964 in Angarsk, Popkov was a police officer for many years. However, behind this respectable façade lay a ruthless predator. Between 1992 and 2010, Popkov committed at least 81 murders of women in Eastern Siberia. He mainly targeted women he considered “immoral”, luring them with his police car before sexually assaulting and killing them. His preferred method was to stab them to death and then rape them post-mortem. Popkov was arrested in 2012 and confessed to his crimes, claiming that he was seeking to “purify” society.

Facts and background

Mikhail Popkov killed many women in Siberia
Some women murdered by Mikhail Popkov

Born on March 7, 1964 in Norilsk, north of Krasnoyarsk in northern Russia, Mikhail Popkov was raised in Angarsk in the Irkutsk region of Siberia. In the early 90s, he became a police officer in the same region. From 1992 onwards, he gave free rein to his extremely violent criminal instincts, offering his future victims a ride in his police car before taking them to remote locations, where he raped and murdered them, usually with blunt objects, striking them repeatedly in the head. He varied the killing methods, occasionally using a knife, screwdriver, ice pick or even an axe. He took advantage of being a police officer by targeting women who were alone at night, often intoxicated and willing to strike up a conversation with him. Popkov shamelessly used his uniform and patrol car to gain their trust, offering them alcohol before committing his crimes.

Mikhail Popkov managed to elude the police for many years thanks to a combination of factors. Despite several in-depth investigations and the testimony of surviving victims, he eluded the police for almost two decades. Popkov also used his marriage to Elena Popkova, who was also a member of law enforcement, to provide him with alibis, thus deflecting suspicion. He took great pleasure in investigating the gruesome murders of the Irkutsk sadist. Investigators eventually linked him to the crimes thanks to tracks left by a Lada 4×4 vehicle, an SUV manufactured in Soviet times and frequently used by local law enforcement, which led to his capture in 2012 after DNA tests were carried out on around 3,500 serving and retired Irkutsk police officers.

Popkov had a double life, appearing to those around him as a model citizen, which enabled him to avoid suspicion. He also confessed to taking weapons from the police evidence depository to help him commit the murders. In 2015, he was convicted of 22 murders and sentenced to life imprisonment. In 2018, after new evidence was gathered, he was convicted of a further 56 murders. The Popkov case shocked the entire world. His capture put an end to a series of murders that had terrorized the Irkutsk region for years. Mikhail Popkov remains one of the most notorious serial killers in Russian criminal history.

A devious policeman with an incurable hatred of women

Mikhail Popkov had an absolute hatred of prostitutes and was extremely misogynistic. His sexual sadism was amply demonstrated during the investigation. His brutal crimes were motivated by a desire to “cleanse the streets of prostitutes” and a mistaken belief in his wife’s cheating. Popkov’s psychological profile revealed a complex individual with a flawed sense of morality. His actions and misdeeds during the investigation suggested a high level of deception and manipulation.

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The murderous madness of these three serial-killing officers, Gérard Schaefer, François Vérove and Mikhail Popkov, sheds light on the darker aspects of human nature and raises questions about trust and integrity within the forces of law and order. These individuals, who are supposed to protect and serve society, have betrayed their oath and committed unforgivable acts. Their horrific crimes remind us of the crucial importance of vigilance and responsibility in maintaining justice and security for all. Identifying and eliminating such predators within law enforcement institutions is essential to prevent such tragedies in the future. Whatever their profession, every human being remains fallible and permeable to mental illness.

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