The Vampire of Paris

In the summer of 1994, the Parisian "Brigade Criminelle" was investigating a series of random homophobic .22 caliber shootings, when they arrested a 22 years old mortician, Nicolas "Nico" Claux.

In custody, Nico confessed to one murder, claiming to be a practicing Satanist. A body search revealed that he was covered in occult tattoos. A search of his apartment in the Pigalle district turned up unidentified skeletal remains, blood bags stolen from a hospital's blood bank, funeral jars filled with human ashes, and hundred of hardcore S/M videotapes.

Described by court psychiatrists as being a "nearly psychotic sadist", Nico shocked investigators when he described how he enjoyed eating strips of muscles from the corpse lying on the slab of the St Joseph hospital mortuary. He also described in full details how he prowled the Parisian gothic cemeteries, digging coffins and stabbing the corpse inside with a screwdriver, and how he would drink human blood mixed with human ashes and powder protein.

Due to the lack of evidence connecting him to the other crime scenes, Nico was only charged with one count of premeditated murder and six counts of grave robberies. During his trial, psychiatrists confirmed that he couldn't be held entirely responsible for his crimes, because he lacked substantial ability to appreciate the wrongfulness of his acts and ability to control his impulses, where as the prosecution maintained that he was aware that killing and mutilating corpses was wrong.

On 15 November, 1994, the Parisian police arrested Nico, 22 years old, in front of the world famous cabaret the Moulin Rouge. They had recognized him from the photograph of a forged driving license, that was used 1 month earlier for the purchase of a video camera. The fake I.D. belonged to murder victim Thierry Bissonnier, 35 years old, who had been found shot to death in his apartment. The investigation around Bissonier had showed absolutely no clue, indicating that the killer was probably a total stranger.

Under custody, Nico confessed to the murder when shown ballistic evidence. The gun used in that case would soon be found under his bed. But the police search quickly turned his case into one of the most bizarre the Parisian "Brigade Criminelle" has investigated since the 1981 arrest of Issei Sagawa, the Japanese cannibal.

Nico small apartment , located in the infamous Pigalle district, was nothing less than a shrine dedicated to death. Bone fragments and human teeth were scattered around. Vertebrates and leg bones had been tied together, hanging like morbid mobiles. Hundreds of videotapes, mostly slasher and hardcore S/M flicks, filled the shelves. A bullet riddled target was hanging on the wall. Funeral jars filled with human ashes were resting on the TV set. Bondage magazines were piled in a corner. Surgical instruments, handcuffs and duct tape were stuffed in a backpack. The whole place reeked of death.

The worst was yet to come. Further investigation showed that had been robbing the graves of several Parisian gothic graveyards since he was 17, stealing the bones, and mutilating mummified remains. When asked the reason why he was storing stolen blood bags inside his refrigerator, Nico simply answered that he drank it on a regular basis. He also confessed to being on a very special diet. Working as a mortuary assistant for 10 months, he had been using his position as a means to fulfill his lifelong fantasy, anthropophagia. When left alone to stitch the bodies after the autopsies, he would cut strips of meat from the rib, and eat them. He sometimes brought pieces of flesh to his place, where he cooked them.

Being faced with this modern vampire, investigators had one last question to ask: why did he began to kill ? At first, Nico claimed that the motive was robbery. But the coldly calculated Modus Operandi he used, as well as the unnecessary overkill (5 shots in the head, and the use of furniture to smash his victim's skull) and the careful removal of fingerprints, proved that something far more sinister was involved. That indicated a clearly senseless, yet premeditated, murder. The victim being homosexual, investigators at first wondered if there was a sexual component in this case. But there was none. It simply turned out that the young killer was looking for any victim, male or female. and the killer wasn't looking for sex. He was just looking for death.

Over the couple of years preceding his trial, Nico revealed some of the complexity of his warped mind to board of specially chosen court psychiatrists. Dozens of tests were made on him, revealing a borderline psychotic personality. He showed signs of suffering from visual and audio hallucinations, specially while performing acts of grave robbery. But his craving for human flesh remained a mystery.

The trial took place in May 1997. After lengthy debates over the mental sanity of the accused, Judge Waechter convicted Nico of one count of first degree murder, but since that the defendant was lacking substantial ability to control his impulses, according to law 242 of the french system, Nico was condemned to a relatively short sentence of 12 years. Nico's early prison years were spent in Fleury-Merogis, just south of Paris, where he remained for four years and two months, until February 1999, when he was transferred to Maison Centrale Poissy, about 15 miles northwest of Paris. In all, there are six "Maison Centrales" in France, each holding at least 200 inmates. Considered maximum security, Poissy has a reputation among inmates as being the place where they lock up serial killers and terrorists. During his stay there, Nico shared his block with at least six serial killers.

After serving seven years and four months of a 12-year sentence, Nicolas Claux was released from prison on March 22, 2002. Since his release, he divides his time between painting, tattoo work, the Internet (he displays his art on his website) and graveyards.


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