In France, suspects can only be held in police custody for 48 hours before being charged or released. French detectives have two days to gather conclusive proof or get a confession, in a full-on race against the clock. 48 Hours looks back at a successfully solved crime, using official reports, investigation files, interviews with key protagonists and reenactments to plunge viewers into the heart of a 48-hour custodial investigation. We slip behind the closed doors of a never-seen world… where fates are decided.
At 8 a.m. on July 24, 2012, the small village of Doué la Fontaine in Maine et Loire awoke to the sirens of the fire department. Yvette Julien, a 90-year-old woman, was found in a pool of blood on her kitchen floor. Her skull was shattered and her wrist severed. The house was searched, but the doors and windows were locked. Yvette Julien will survive with serious after-effects. Attacked from behind, she was unable to provide any information to the investigators of the Angers Research Unit, who were working full time. Ten months later, they questioned her nephew, Maurice Boiteux, a retired bus driver, garage owner and company director. He lives in the Vosges, 700 kms away… The gendarmes in Angers wait for him to finish his shift before taking him to the gendarmerie in Neufchateau in the Vosges. At 2.15pm, he was taken into custody.
In the middle of summer 2008, a ten-year-old boy was murdered with 44 stab wounds in the Ain region of France. Public opinion was horrified, the government outraged… The gendarmes investigate all leads. One patrol remembers checking on a couple on the fringes of society, who claimed to be pilgrims. They were lodged in the parish hall of the neighboring village. Their sketch was immediately circulated and they were spotted 200 kms away in Ardèche. They were arrested and taken to the Bourg-en-Bresse gendarmerie. One team of gendarmes was assigned to the man, Stéphane Moitoiret, and another to the woman, Noëlla Hego. In an attempt to reconstruct the facts and establish who is responsible for what, the gendarmes first focus on questioning the woman…. It’s midnight, and she’s taken into custody.
Chérence, a hamlet in the Vexin region. It was here, on the night of April 7, 2012, that emergency services received a desperate call from a young man who had just found the lifeless body of his partner Maëva Rousseau, collapsed on top of their 11-month-old baby. The 23-year-old woman had bled to death, her skull crushed by multiple blows. The house was not searched, but her handbag was missing. For several weeks, the investigation stalled: with no DNA, no fingerprints, no murder weapon, the gendarmes looked for witnesses… Some implicated the best friend of Maëva’s father, Alain Berruet. The investigators found no trace of blood at his home. However, the examining magistrate authorized the gendarmes to clear up their doubts. On June 27, 2012, they arrested Alain Berruet. At 6pm, he was taken into custody.
In 1985, the man the press dubbed the “Robertsau Strangler” unleashed a reign of terror in this residential district of Strasbourg. He broke into apartments at night, strangling and sexually abusing young girls. Until 1986, when the serial crimes stopped… But the rapist was still nowhere to be found. Time passes and the case becomes France’s oldest cold case. When, 27 years later, a palm print found on one of the victims was matched. It was that of Nicolas Charbonnier, 52, father of an 8-year-old daughter, recently divorced, living in Bordeaux. He was living in Strasbourg at the time of the crime. The investigators went back over the thousands of pages of the file and dissected his life before arresting him at his home on January 21, 2013. To optimize the time spent in police custody, the police relocated the hearings to the Bordeaux police station. It’s 2.10pm, and he is taken into custody .
Hidden behind its ramparts, Perpignan has lived for twenty years to the rhythm of a drama known as the “Disparues de la Gare”. One night in autumn 95, 17-year-old Tatiana Anjar vanished without a trace. Then the bodies of Moktaria Chaïb and Marie-Hélène Gonzales were found atrociously mutilated. Three pretty, dark-haired young women who alternately disappeared at night in the vicinity of Perpignan station between 1995 and 1998. As time passed, the investigation stalled and lost its way. Until October 10, 2014, when a suspect was identified by DNA. The news came as a relief to Perpignan’s PJ. After years of tracking and an extraordinary investigation, the man was apprehended by PJ officers in a home on the outskirts of Perpignan. It’s 12.05pm, his name is Jacques Rançon and he’s taken into custody.
March 16, 2013, village of Vritz, some forty kilometers northwest of Angers. Anne Barbot, 38, leaves her farm in the morning and disappears. Her husband launched a search the very next day. The mobilization around Didier Barbot grew and a 700-strong white march was organized… to no avail. 12 days after her disappearance, Anne’s car was found burnt to a crisp. In the trunk, her body was charred. She was already dead when she was burned. For the Angers research unit, the mystery was total. Three months after his wife’s death, Didier Barbot attempted to kill himself. The investigation remained deadlocked for 9 months. Until November 26, 2013, when Didier Barbot was arrested at the same time as Stéphanie Livet, with whom he had a secret relationship. Investigators took them separately to the Angers research unit. Didier Barbot and Stéphanie Livet are taken into custody.
With the participation of France 5