For decades the crimes of a notorious serial killer have haunted the Paris crime squad.
But now a former military police officer is said to have confessed to being the murderer known as Le Grêlé – the pockmarked man – before he died.
In a suicide note, the man, named by French media as François V, said he was the killer whose crimes shocked Paris in the 1980s and 1990s.
Le Grêlé is suspected of being behind several murders and rapes.
DNA tests are yet to confirm that the man is the wanted serial killer. But the dead suspect’s confession could mark the end of one of France’s most notorious uncracked cases.
The killer was given his nickname in reference to his face, pockmarked by acne.
Among the shocking crimes attributed to him was the murder of 11-year-old Cécile Bloch. She was reported missing after failing to show up to school in the town of Fontainebleau in 1986.
Her body was later found under a piece of old carpet in the basement of the apartment building she lived in. Officials said she had been raped, strangled and stabbed, and the case sent shockwaves across France.
Residents, including Ms Bloch’s half-brother Luc Richard, recalled seeing a man with pockmarked skin in the elevator on the day of the crime.
Mr Richard, who helped police draw a sketch of the suspect, has described the man as seeming “very sure of himself”.
“He said something to me like, ‘Have a very, very good day,'” he recalled in an interview with the Sud Ouest newspaper in 2015.
DNA evidence linked Ms Bloch’s killer to other murders and rapes.
Local media reports say he has also been linked to the 1994 murder of 19-year-old Karine Leroy, who was found dead on the edge of a wood more than a month after disappearing while on her way to school.
In rapes committed against a 26-year-old German woman and two girls, aged 14 and 11, the suspect is reported to have identified himself as a policeman.
A picture of Le Grêlé has hung for decades on the walls of the criminal brigade of the Paris judicial police.
But recently there were some signs that the mysterious killer could finally be unmasked.
Reports say François V had been summoned for questioning in relation to the case and to give a DNA sample, but he did not show up.
While few details have been confirmed, Le Parisien newspaper reported that François V was a 59-year-old former gendarme – a policeman attached to the French military.
Le Point newspaper reported that the man had married and had two children.
In his final message he reportedly said he was “not well in life” at the time of the killings, but that he had since “got himself together”.
Mr Richard has previously spoken about how the case has haunted him, saying he has lived with a “great feeling of injustice”.