On 11th August 1987, the mutilated body of a young girl was found on the side of the A10 motorway, in the Loir-et-Cher region, south of Paris. A few weeks ago, DNA analysis finally enabled to put a name to the victim. Her parents, who never reported the missing child, are now being investigated in connection with her murder.
Sometimes, short news items capture the attention of the press, and the imagination of the people. So, was Christian Ranucci, accused of the murder of an 8-year-old girl, victim of his own incapacity to defend himself, and of a popular uprising directed against him. He was condemned to death and executed, in 1976, although he may have been innocent.
The case described here, has also the potential to cause a public outrage and a psychological execution of the perpetrators. The only notable difference with the Ranucci case, is that the death penalty no longer exists in France, but DNA techniques do.
It all started on 11th August, 1987, when maintenance workers discovered the body of a young girl, wrapped in a blanket, on the side of the A10 motorway near the French town of Blois. The autopsy revealed that she had been severely beaten with an iron, suffered multiple burns, and had several deep bite marks. There was also evidence of multiple bone fractures that had spontaneously healed, prior to the discovery of her body.
The little girl was buried in Suèvres, a small village situated a few kilometers from the spot where the body was found. Since there was no identification, and no reports of a missing child, she was buried anonymously, a few simple words marking the final resting place for the little girl who did not live – “In memory of the A10’s little unknown girl.” The villagers have kept on remembering her by regularly laying flowers, and children placed toys to comfort her.
In 2013, DNA tests were carried on carefully preserved samples, in the hope of getting new information on a case that run the risk of being definitely classified and forgotten. A second DNA profile was found. The profile was searched in a national database, but no resulting matches were found.
A breakthrough came in 2017 when, following routine testing, the second profile did find a match in the database. Following a brawl, the DNA profile of one of the little girl’s brothers was entered into the database. After 30 years, “the unknown little girl of the A10 motorway,” finally got a name – Inass Touloub. She had two sisters and four brothers.
On 12th June 2018, the French gendarmes knocked on the door of Ahmed Touloub, aged 66, and Halima El Bakhti, 64. They were both escorted to the central police station, in Orleans. Touloub was relieved that, 30 years on, he was finally delivered from his unbearable secret,
For 31 years, I’ve been waiting for you [the police] to come. – Ahmed Touloub
The transcripts relating to the interrogation reveal that, “he was living hell with his wife, she was violent towards him and his three daughters. He was scared of her, and was living under her domination.” According to Touloub, the family were going on holiday to Morocco, but needed money to do so. Touloub went out of the house to borrow 5000 Francs from a friend, and when he came back, Inass laid unconscious on the couch, having supposedly fallen down the stairs. The reason why Touloub didn’t go to the police, was that his wife was living illegally in France, and he was scared that she would be deported and the children placed in care.
Halima El Bakhti changed her story several times during the inquest. She first wondered why she was being questioned at all, convinced that her daughter was alive and living in Morocco. She even later claimed that she wasn’t the girl’s mother. At a hearing, she told the judge that she was victim of domestic violence and denied being implicated in the death of her daughter, although she did admit to having hit her several times in the past.
The case is complicated. Both the parents accuse each other, and Inass’s brothers weren’t born or were toddlers, at the time of her death. The two sisters, aged 9 and 6, at the time, were seated in the back of the car when Inass was driven and dumped on the side of the A10 motorway. They remain conspicuously silent.
So many questions remain unanswered, in this case. Did the parents act together in killing their daughter? Why didn’t the two sisters react when Inass suddenly disappeared from their lives? Have they completely forgotten what happened, or do they not want to testify and condemn one or both of their parents? It reminds me of Plato’s dialogue, Euthypro where, in the first scene, Socrates encounters Euthypro, who is on is way to denounce his father for having murdered a worker, by leaving him to die in a ditch. For Euthypro, it is the pious thing to do, because it would be appreciated by the Gods.
Only time will tell what really happened. In the meantime, the story will continue to make headlines in the French press. I ask myself why such an isolated case, even though it is extremely violent and inhumane, attracts such attention as to warrant its publication on newspaper front pages. It is probably the sheer inhumanity of it all, that grabs people’s attention. The atrocity of the crime is further magnified by the innocence of the victim – a 4-year-old girl.
In a perverted sort of way, we all like to delve into evil, just for a few minutes. We are fascinated by the fact that someone, out there, is capable of acting beyond what we thought was rationally possible. Upon reading the unfolding story, comprising a detailed analysis of the psychological profile of the perpetrators, we all become amateur psychologists, in a matter of minutes. The present case, is no exception to the rule.
What could be more gripping that a brutally murdered toddler who remained nameless and unwanted by her parents for over 30 years? We are also fascinated by the devotion of the police who want to solve the case, no matter how long it takes. They are trying to explain the inexplicable, and are now confronted with parents who blame each other, and sisters who remain conspicuously silent. It all makes for fascinating bedtime reading, and makes us nearly forget who the victim was, and what she went trough. Isn’t it all innocent though, because we are all just reading about it?
Imminent news, it contains in itself all its knowledge. You don’t have to know anything about the world to consume it. – Roland Barthes
Post based on, “Inconnue de l’A10: ‘Cette affaire ne fait que commencer.’ “, published in Libération, July 2, 2018