Claux admitted to one murder while in detention, claiming to be a practicing satanist. Unidentified skeletal bones, blood bags stolen from a hospital’s blood bank, funerary jars filled with human ashes, and hundreds of extreme S/M videotapes were discovered during a search of his apartment.
Nico, who was described by court psychiatrists as a “almost insane sadist,” astounded investigators when he detailed how he relished chewing strips of muscles off the corpse lying on the mortuary slab at St. Joseph hospital. He also talked about how he liked searching through Parisian cemeteries, digging up new graves, and drinking human blood mixed with human ashes and powder protein.
Nico was only charged with one case of premeditated murder and six charges of grave robberies due to a lack of evidence linking him to the other crimes. Psychiatrists testified throughout his trial that he couldn’t be held totally responsible for his acts. In May 1997, he was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 12 years in jail as an unrepentant necrophilic cannibal.
Lurking in Graveyards
Officers from the Parisian “Brigade Criminelle” detained Nicolas Claux, 22, on suspicion of murdering Thierry Bissonnier, 34, outside the world-famous nightclub Moulin Rouge on Nov. 15, 1994.
Bissonnier’s murder on October 4 was one of a series of homosexual assassinations, with seven of them occurring in October alone. Gilbert Thiel, the preliminary investigator for the murder team, believed a single person was responsible and was eager to bring Claux back to headquarters for questioning. Claux claims that Thiel, a veteran of a number of high-profile cases, was unprepared for the web of murder, cannibalism, and sadistic crimes he had weaved in his brief existence.
Mr. Claux’s narrations are included in the following report to give a better picture of a killer’s life and crimes. Claux’s written observations have been trimmed, polished, and rearranged to provide a more narrative flow.
Claux: “I was sent back to the Parisian Crime Department for questioning after my arrest.” Unbeknownst to me, crime scene investigators were already searching my apartment at 9 Rue Coustou with a search warrant. They discovered a.22-caliber handgun under my bed, which they sent off for ballistics testing right away. While they were almost certainly not startled to see the pistol, they were almost surely not expecting the gruesome scene that greeted them.
“Bone fragments and human teeth were strewn around like loose change throughout my apartment; vertebrae and leg bones hung from the ceiling like ghastly mobiles; and hundreds of videocassettes, predominantly slasher and extreme S&M flicks, piled high on my bookcases. One can only guess what the detectives were thinking as they glanced about my living quarters.
“Bone fragments and human teeth were tossed around like loose change throughout my apartment; vertebrae and leg bones hung from the ceiling like ghastly mobiles; and hundreds of videocassettes, predominantly slasher and extreme S&M flicks, piled high on my bookcases. One can only guess what the detectives were thinking as they glanced about my living quarters.
A bullet-riddled target hung on one wall, while jars of human ashes rested on top of a TV set across the room. Several bondage publications were stacked in a far area, and my backpack, which included handcuffs, surgical instruments, and duct tape, was discovered close. Investigators discovered many stolen blood bags inside my refrigerator, in addition to my likes and décor.”
The ballistic test results arrived quickly, and when Nico was confronted with evidence that the tests were positive, he confessed to Bissonnier’s murder. While investigators were relieved to have solved a heinous crime, they were reasonably concerned about the human bones strewn about his flat and the blood bags that filled his refrigerator.
Claux : “I told them I had been robbing the graves of various Parisian gothic graveyards and mutilating the mummified bodies with little difficulty. When I was questioned why I kept stolen blood bags in my refrigerator, I simply said that I drank the blood on a regular basis. I had been working as a mortuary assistant for ten months, and I had been utilizing my job to fulfill a lifelong dream of mine: cannibalism. I would take strips of meat from the ribs and eat them when I was left alone to suture the bodies after the autopsies. I would occasionally carry back parts of flesh to my house, where I would cook and eat them as well.”
Claux alleged that when investigators heard his confessions, they inquired, “WHY IS THIS THE CASE? Why did you murder? Why did you consume and drink human flesh and blood? And why did you go digging for bodies?” The solutions to those questions were not as straightforward as they appeared. Nico’s history may hold some hints.
Nicolas Claux was born in the African country of Cameroon on March 22, 1972. Nico’s father was a French citizen who worked at a bank and was frequently deployed to other countries with his family for extended periods of time. Nico was too young to remember his childhood in Cameroon, but he does remembers his family relocating to London when he was five years old, and then to the southernmost section of Paris when he was seven, where they stayed until he was twelve.
“My childhood was mostly typical, except that I was pretty reclusive and had only a few friends,” Claux says. I was a lonely kid who didn’t have any brothers or sisters to play with, so I spent the majority of my time alone in my room.
“While my parents were always kind and provided me with all I needed, I never had a deep bond with them.” They never embraced or kissed me, preferring to leave me alone the most of the time. I eventually become emotionally numb. I had a hard time feeling empathy for other people, and most of the time I was just indifferent.
“This was also the time when I became interested in death and the occult. I used to spend a lot of time reading books about vampires and werewolves. I was particularly taken with a photograph of a statue of the Sumerian demon Pazuzu. It was in a book my parents had purchased in England. It represented something really ancient and powerful to me, and it was something I admired. After seeing the identical statue in the movie Exorcist a few years later, my interest in the occult got even deeper.”
Death fascinates me
Nico’s grandfather died of a brain embolism when he was ten years old. Nico always felt that his family blamed him for his early death because the two had been fighting at the time. This was a pivotal point in his life, according to him, and it caused him to become physically obsessed with death. He claims that he became intrigued with funeral customs, wakes, and the ambience of morgues after that.
Nico and his parents relocated to Lisbon, Portugal, when Nico was 12 years old, and stayed for four years. Nico’s obsessions remained the same, regardless of the setting. He was once again without pals because none of his classmates shared his hobbies. His emotions of loneliness grew stronger, and he developed a virulent hatred for everyone around him.
Claux: “We came back to Paris when I was 16, and I lived alone with my father.” Graveyards have always fascinated me since I was a child. I know every cemetery in Paris like the back of my hand in no time. I spent the majority of my free time in graveyards between 1990 and 1993. As a botanist who studies plants and flowers, I’d inspect rusted locks and weigh cement lids. Mausoleums were one of my favorite things. Pere-Lachaise, Montmartre, and Passy cemeteries have the most impressive ones. I’d look in through their windows to see what was on the inside. Furniture, paintings, and statues adorned some of the rooms. It wasn’t long before I started formulating a strategy to have a closer view.
Nico eventually made his own lock-picking tools, with an L-shaped key being his favorite. He would use a crowbar or enter through a window if a lock on one of the mausoleums was too rusted to pick. He claims he “felt like a monarch reigning in Hell” once inside. It was going to be his domain. He claimed that he would often enter a mausoleum during the day, only to emerge at night when the gates were locked and he could go about his business without fear of being detected.
Nico Claux claimed that simply loitering in cemeteries and breaking into mausoleums was no longer satisfying his wants. His visions morphed into vicious designs, tools for satisfying his new desires. It’s unclear if this shift began at this point or years previously, but it’s evident that he thought he’d reached a new level.
The succeeding narrations in this post have been adapted from one of Nico’s several statements, which he eventually delivered to Parisian authorities while in detention.
“One day, I awoke with a horrible desire to dig up a corpse and mutilate it. In a rucksack, I packed a tiny crowbar, pliers, a screwdriver, black candles, and a pair of surgical gloves. After that, I took the subway to Trocadero station. It was almost midday. The Passy Cemetery’s gates were wide open, yet no one was inside. The undertakers had gone out to eat.
“Passy is a tiny Gothic cemetery with numerous large mausoleums dating from the nineteenth century. It is impossible to get inside at night because it is sandwiched between two wide avenues. But, in any case, no one could ever envision someone looting graves at noon.
“I had a particular tomb in mind.” It was a tiny mausoleum, the final resting place of a family of Russian immigrants who had arrived in the United States after the 1917 revolution. I had pried open the iron door a few days before and then closed it, making it appear as if no one had ever touched it. It was only a matter of kicking it open… My head was in complete disarray at this moment. In my thoughts, I had visions of death. I inhaled deeply and descended the steps leading to the crypt.
“It was a little one, with wet walls, and it was hidden deep within the cemetery grounds.” Other than the candles I had packed, there was no other source of light. To begin, I removed one of the massive coffins from its stone casing for more than an hour. It was very difficult not to let the casket fall to the ground all at once, but I managed to do so without making too much noise. When the coffin reached the ground, one of the edges grazed my lower leg. But that didn’t deter me in the least.
“I looked at the coffin for a while. It was made of solid oak and was secured with large screws. I expected to encounter a recently deceased corpse because it appeared to be brand new. First, I took less than 10 minutes to unscrew the casket. Then I used the crowbar to pry it open. The box emitted a foul stink of putrefaction once it was opened. It smelt like Thanatyl, a chemical used by embalmers to slow down the deterioration of a body.
“Then I noticed a body inside.” It was a half-rotten elderly woman, wrapped in a white sheet with brown stains all over her. Her face was coated with oil, but it was actually death fluids seeping from her flesh. The stink was so strong that I almost passed out. I tried to lift one side of the sheet off her petrified skin, but it was stuck. Although her teeth protruded from her mouth, her eyes were missing. I was staring into the vacant eye sockets when something unexpected occurred to me. I felt like I was being sucked into a whirlpool.
“I grabbed a screwdriver at that point. The body within the casket began to stir slightly, as if it had foreseen what was about to happen. So I started stabbing my stomach, ribs, and shoulders. At least 50 times, I stabbed her. I honestly have no idea. All I remember is that my forearms were coated in corpse slime when I awoke.”
Nico claimed that after desecrating his first grave, he spent much of his leisure time searching the cemetery for more graves to desecrate. He foresaw that this pattern would continue until his arrest.
Getting A New Job
Nico enlisted in the military at the age of 20 and received training as a gunsmith, cleaning and repairing firearms. However, he quickly became bored with this way of life. His only source of pleasure was dreaming about murder. Nico moved on after only a year and stated that he was considering a career as a mortician.
Claux: “After my application to the one and only local school for embalming was turned down, I went to work at the Saint Vincent-de-Paul Hospital in Paris, a children’s hospital. This was the only way I could do what I wanted for a living, and I discovered it was also the finest way to come into contact with corpses. I was assigned to the position of morgue attendant, and my first encounter with a corpse occurred while assisting with the autopsy of a 10-year-old girl. The other attendant demonstrated how to sew up her tummy, and it was the first time I had ever handled a fresh corpse. Her organs were bright red and spotless, which astounded me.”
Nico did not stay long at Saint Vincent-de-Paul, and in December 1993, he began working as a morgue attendant and stretcher-bearer at Paris’s Saint Joseph Hospital. Helping with autopsies, cleaning up the morgue slabs, and preparing the dead for wakes were among his responsibilities. Bereaved relatives could later view the bodies of their loved ones in a modest chapel placed up the steps.
His Fantasies Became Reality
Claux : “We, the morgue attendants, performed the majority of the autopsies. We’d make a Y-shaped incision, remove the ribs at the joints, then use an electric saw to open the cranium. The pathologist did nothing more than dissect the organs and place them in a box.
“After the autopsy, I’d be left alone with the body to make the stitches, which were my expertise. This is when I started chewing muscle strips off the bodies. I always started by looking at their medical records. I once spoke with a butcher who told me that meat tastes better three or four days after it is killed. This was something I’d always wanted to do, and now I’d have the chance to do it on a regular basis.
“I would occasionally bring home selected meats to be cooked, but I preferred to eat them raw. It tasted like carpaccio or tartar steak. The massive muscles in the thighs and back were fantastic, but the breasts were merely fats with no real meat. People frequently inquire about my thoughts the first time I engaged in my cannibalistic fantasies. To be honest, I said to myself, “Wow!” I’m now a cannibal. Cool!'”
Nico’s other position at Saint Joseph Hospital was in the intestinal surgery department. One of his responsibilities was to transfer blood bags from the hospital’s blood bank to the operating room. He claimed that it didn’t take him long to discover that bags were frequently left behind, and that he eventually created a plan in which he would pull the sticker off the unused bag, making it appear to be opened, and then hide it in his locker.
He stated he’d transfer the bag to his backpack at the end of his shift, carry it home, and start cooling it in his fridge. He would combine the blood with powder proteins or human ashes and consume it once the temperature was reached. Because the bags contained no plasma, the blood was incredibly thin, which is why he decided to thicken it.
Nicolas Claux stated that on the morning of October 4, 1994, he decided it was time to make another of his fantasies a reality. This was a special fantasy for Nico, one that would elevate him well above petty tomb robbing and body mutilations in his imagination. He’d been waiting for the ideal moment, and now he was ready to cross the line, an irreversible step that might change a man’s life forever.
Nico stated he spent the morning looking for a victim, any victim, regardless of age, ethnicity, or sex. He was just interested in death and nothing else. Nico decided to try his luck on Minitel (an early form of the Internet) in the early afternoon and quickly began conversing with a man named Thierry about bondage and S&M. After some time, the two decided to meet up, and the man provided Nico his address. Thierry’s mind never knew Nico had no interest in sex.
Claux: “Meeting on Minitel was a typical practice in the gay community back then.” They would make contact this way since it was quick and simple for them. I discovered that it was a simple way for me to kill them with no witnesses, and I also had the assurance of keeping anonymous because the chats on Minitel could not be traced back.
“As a result, I promised to meet Thierry at midday.” I had a single-shot 22-caliber handgun with me, which I concealed under my jacket. I knocked on his door and gave him the fictitious first name I had given him on Minitel when I got at his house, a one-room flat beneath the roof of an old building. He unlocked the door, I stepped inside, immediately spun around and pulled out the gun as he closed the door.
“I saw the rifle pointing at his eye as he turned his head towards me and I glanced at his face.” I pulled the gun after a few uneasy moments. Without saying anything, he collapsed face down. It was quite terrifying. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. I then stood there watching him bleed on the carpet. Soon after, I decided to check out the flat and went around for a while.
“When I returned to where he was resting, I noticed that he was still moving and making obnoxious breathing noises on the floor, as if he were breathing through a straw.” I reloaded the revolver and fired another shot, hitting him in the back of the head this time. I reloaded and fired a few more shots, but he remained alive and making noise. I was startled that he was still alive after the first shot; I had anticipated him to die.
“I walked into his kitchen after a few minutes and grabbed some cookies to eat, then sat in a corner of the room and observed him as I ate. When I was finished, I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible, so I shot him in the back one last time. I also smashed a large plant pot on his head, crushing it slightly. I then cleaned down my fingerprints, took his checkbook, credit card, and wallet (complete with ID papers), his driver’s license, an alarm clock, and an answering machine, and then departed the scene.”
Investigation,Capture And Trial
Thierry Bissonnier’s body lay on the floor of his flat for three days, until his parents went to his apartment, distressed about not being able to contact him, and discovered the gruesome scene. The details of Thierry’s life are vague at best. Claux alleges that upon the discovery of Bissonier’s body, little was spoken in the press, and that during Claux’s subsequent trial, the press was “blacked out,” meaning that no members of the press or public were permitted inside the courtroom.
Claux feels that the victim’s family did not want their relative’s life to be made public, and that there were aspects of the case that were too “sensitive” for the general public to see. In any case, the 34-year-old victim was a restaurateur and part-time classical pianist who was in a long-term relationship with an older guy.
Nico Claux might have gotten away with the murder of Thierry Bissonnier if he hadn’t made a fatal mistake. Claux attempted to purchase a VCR by forging one of Bissonnier’s bank checks in mid-October. Claux submitted Bissonnier’s driver’s license to the shop clerk when asked for identification, which he had attempted to counterfeit by substituting his own photo. When the clerk compared the signatures, however, the deception was swiftly discovered. Before the cops arrived, Nico Claux disappeared. As a result, the hunt began.
Claux claims he was examined by a court-ordered team of professional psychiatrists and psychologists over the next two years. Hundreds of tests were conducted, the results of which revealed a borderline psychotic personality condition, he claims. Claux also claims that he has been diagnosed with necrophilia and sexual sadism by the experts. They could not, however, find any psychological or neuropsychic problems that could have hampered his judgment or control of his actions.
Nicolas Claux was convicted of premeditated murder, armed robbery, fraudulent use of a bank check, falsification of his driver’s license photo, and attempting to defraud the video camera retailer. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison after that.
Claux was never convicted of grave robbing or the theft of blood bags, notwithstanding his account of events.