Jérémy Rimbaud, the cannibal of the Pyrenees who dreams of escape

On January 19, 2022, the news fell like a chopper: Jérémy Rimbaud, 34, better known as the “cannibal of the Pyrenees”, escaped from the Gérard Marchand psychiatric hospital in Toulouse. He succeeded in thwarting the vigilance of the supervisors. Found in extremis by the police, in the middle of the street, he still had time to attack Françoise, a 73-year-old lady. Armed with a broomstick, the madman jumped up and started hitting her. It was without counting on the heroism of a neighbor, who came to take aim at the cannibal with an unloaded gun to save the septuagenarian. Since then, Jérémy Rimbaud has been imprisoned again in the unit for difficult patients at Cadillac, in Haute-Garonne. He has been staying there since 2013, for the murder and attack on the integrity of the body of Léopold Pédebidau and attempted murder of Jean Camy, in Nouilhan, in the Hautes-Pyrénées.

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On November 14, 2013, it was 8 p.m. when the gendarmes of the town of Vic-en-Bigorre, in Occitanie, were called to Nouilhan. A house has just been burnt down in this Tarbes town. The emergency services are already on the spot, warned by the son of the owner. In the kitchen, a corpse lies on the floor. It’s about a man, a farmer nonagenarian, Léopold Pédebidau. His body is charred. His chest opened. His intestines bare. At the same time, a report is made: a 41-year-old farmer, Jean Camy, has just been assaulted with an iron bar, not far from the scene of the crime.

At 9:24 p.m., the gendarmes were warned of the theft of a semi-automatic shotgun, still in the town of Nouilhan. The individual fled. At this stage, no link between the cases has yet been established. A patrol sets out to find the rifle thief. At 11:30 p.m., the attention of the gendarmes fell on a suspect, aged around 30. He approaches their vehicle, a shotgun in his hand. The corporals get out of their car and order him to drop his gun. The man ends up complying and puts his weapon on the ground. The gendarmes control him, when suddenly, the thirty-year-old starts screaming: “ The old man, I killed him. I ate his heart, his tongue and then I ate the beans in the fridge. »

Hannibal Lecter

The stranger is called Jérémy Rimbaud, he is 26 years old. A former soldier, he returned a year earlier from a six-month mission in Afghanistan. Caught in the act, he was immediately taken into custody. From the start of his interrogation, he admits that he has not slept for three days. He comes from Pau, the city where he lives. Faced with the gendarmes, Jérémy begins an incoherent logorrhea: “ I said I wanted to go to this old man, I don’t know him. This old man represents the pig. “He admits all the same the murder of Léopold Pédebidau and the attempt on Jean Camy:” In the scheme of things, I should have gone to the silo to kill two guys. The old man was at the edge of the window, he seemed to be waiting for death. I smelled the smell of pig, a smell of piss. He thought I was someone else, he was expecting his son. Jérémy goes scrupulously, without any question in return, to describe his crime: I found three objects, one of which was rounded iron, about 50 cm long and hit on the head. I put a first blow, it did not even move. I put another three or four blows, always on the head. »

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Jeremy then approaches the fireplace, determined, he grabs the firelighters, the matches and the wood: I lit the fire, like Johnny. » At his words, Jérémy sketches a slight satisfied smile. ” Before the fire, I had to catch my tongue, my visions, my logic, the messages addressed to me, told me so. The gendarmes know it, Jérémy is not clear. His soliloquy continues and confirms the fears of the brigadiers: The message addressed to me was “eat your dead”, those who have hurt us. I have a huge feeling in this house, a story with Jews. Then I cooked the tongue and the heart. My head turned to the fridge. I found a plate of Tarbais beans left there. It was moldy, I ate. It made me sick, I threw up on the old man. Reminds me of Hannibal Lecter. »

Jean Camy, the surviving farmer

After his sordid murder, Jérémy takes to the road again, on foot. He walks in the forest, supposed to follow the indications of a map. Voices arise:You have to kill Gaspard.” I went into a house and by chance a person was watching television, a gun was there, and I took it. The dog barked, I ran away. That was after the story of the tractor. Despite a hallucinatory speech, Rimbaud is fully capable of retracing the chronology of events. The story of the tractor, as he calls it, is the attempted murder of Jean Camy.

This November 14, the farmer gets into the saddle on his tractor. As he was about to start, Jérémy Rimbaud attacked him from the side and struck him several blows, using a metal tube, on the body and in the face. Jean manages to disarm Jeremy, the two men fall backwards, on either side of the tractor. Rimbaud throws himself on Jean Camy and snatches the metal tube from him. He hits him again. Miraculously, Jean manages to flee. During his hearing, the farmer will explain Jérémy’s plan to the gendarmes: “ Throughout the assault, he kept screaming:I’m going to kill you” “.

Supported by firefighters, Jean Camy is taken to Tarbes hospital. After filing a complaint, he will be examined by the medico-judicial units of Pau. Forty-five days of interruption of working time, will be delivered to him. Jean Camy comes out alive, but multi-fractured and completely traumatized: “ I have trouble sleeping, I need to talk and I talk a lot. I always see the same movie, when he attacks me and I hear “I’m going to kill you! I’m going to kill you!” “.

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After his custody, Jérémy Rimbaud is brought before a judge. After placing him in pre-trial detention, the justice system quickly decided to transfer him to the Unit for Difficult Patients (UMD): “ It is about a young career military man who has taken action, as part of a mystical delirium. He says he is commissioned by a divine force to ‘do good’. He totally adheres to this delirium. This symptomatology is associated with an emotional coldness “, notes on November 20, 2013, the psychiatrist in charge of his expertise.

Nine months later, at the request of the prosecutor, a college of experts is appointed to examine it again. Among them, Roland Coutanceau. The psychiatrist meets Jérémy at the UMD in Cadillac, nine months after the events. The expert previously looked at his medical and family history, his story. Two facts are significant, his first mission as a soldier in Afghanistan, in 2010. On the spot, Jérémy suffered a sound trauma to his right ear, caused by a Famas shot.

post-traumatic stress

Back from the operation, Jérémy will be diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress. He continues his military career all the same but will no longer go into operation. On February 25, 2013, around 8:30 a.m., his regiment was in Modane (Savoie), for a foot race. An avalanche is triggered, one of his comrades dies before Jeremy’s eyes. After this event, Jeremy leaves the army. The young man is idle. A week before the tragedy, his girlfriend left him. He takes refuge in alcohol and cannabis.

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On November 10, 2013, Jérémy joins a friend. The two men consume ketamine, an anesthetic for pachyderms, also used as a hard drug. Data likely to explain Jeremy’s condition at the time of the events. But drugs and trauma do not explain everything. When Roland Coutanceau met Jérémy, he was marked by his attitude: “ We are struck by his mechanical gait, with a face without blinking, a gaze that often remains fixed on his interlocutor, a dangling lower lip that retains traces of excessive salivation. Surely the sign of taking neuroleptics, says Roland Coutanceau. During his interview, Jérémy finally expresses remorse at his gesture: “ At times, Mr. Jérémy Rimbaud breaks down in tears, explaining that he cannot bear the acts committed. Their evocation also provokes anxious manifestations in him which often express themselves by unfounded abdominal pain. »

Criminal irresponsibility

The review continues, at Cadillac’s UMD. The expert will mention Jérémy’s hallucinatory delusions: ” Monsieur Jérémy Rimbaud remains convinced that he was under a spell leading him to obey an invisible force that penetrated his body. The voice that directs it does not express itself verbally, it acts by imposing itself on its will. A whole lot of intuitive associations were only the consequence. Doctor Roland Coutanceau concluded that he had schizophrenia, with a paranoid dimension.

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Me Martial, Jean Camy’s lawyer, remembers the trial: ” At the hearing, I saw Jérémy Rimbaud out of the world. I had prepared my client for the question of criminal irresponsibility, he accepted the decision well. The penal sanction is therefore not the appropriate response to Jeremy’s psychiatric situation. “ When he spoke, it felt like the treatments had yet to find their purpose. He was inconsistent and told us about his visions. His place is in Cadillac, not in prison. “As long as the door of the establishment remains closed…

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