Jean-Claude Romand is a French con artist-turned-spree killer and family annihilator. He pretended to be a medical professional and researcher working for the World Health Organization and kept lying to his family and friends for 18 years.
Background and Imposture
Jean-Claude Romand was born in Lons-le-Saunier and grew up in the village Clairvaux-les-Lacs in the département of Jura. He studied at the lycée of Lons-le-Saunier until his baccalauréat. In 1971, he registered at the classes préparatoires of Lycée du Parc in Lyon, but dropped out after one term. Afterward, he enrolled as a medical student.
The deception began with a simple lie: Romand claimed that he had passed a second-year medical examination that he did not take. He therefore never qualified as a doctor, a fact unknown to his parents.
Romand fooled his family and friends for 18 years; they thought he was a successful medical professional and researcher in the World Health Organization (WHO). He managed to give the impression that he had researched arteriosclerosis and that he had contacts with political figures.
In reality, he spent his days wandering and used the free information services of the local WHO building. He lived close by in Prévessin-Moëns, France. Periodically he left for a supposed work trip but only traveled to Geneva International Airport and spent a couple of days in a hotel room there, studying medical journals and a travel guide about the various countries he lied about going. Romand lived off the money his wife and he had made by selling an apartment, from his wife's salary, and from sums of money which were given to him by various relatives, who relied on his assurances that he was investing the money in various imaginary hedge funds and foreign ventures.
Killing Spree and Suicide Attempt
On 9 January 1993 Romand withdrew 2000 francs and borrowed a .22 Long Rifle carbine from his father for which he purchased a suppressor, and gas canisters, and asked for them to be gift wrapped. That night, he beat his wife to death on the couple's double bed with a rolling pin. He left her body until the morning, sleeping as normal. The next morning, he woke his children, had breakfast, and watched cartoons. He put them to bed that night, and once they had fallen asleep, shot them both in the head. After these killings, the only people who could expose him were his parents and his ex-mistress, who wanted back 900,000 francs that she had given him as a favor.
The next morning, Romand traveled to his parents' house, where he joined them for a meal. Immediately after the meal he repeatedly shot them both and the family dog.
That night he picked up his ex-mistress, telling her they were invited to a dinner with the then health minister, Bernard Kouchner. Pretending that they were lost, he made her exit the car, and as she did so he attempted to strangle her with a cord and sprayed tear gas into her face. After she fought back, he apologized and drove her back to her home, after making her promise to never tell anyone about his attempt to murder her. He then returned to his family home, which still contained the bodies of his dead wife and children.
He sat and watched television before he poured petrol around the house, set it on fire, and took an overdose of sleeping pills to create the appearance of an intended suicide. Whether this attempt was genuine is doubtful, since the pills he took were long expired, and he had access to more effective barbiturates; additionally, the manner in which the fire was set and the timing of his taking the pills made his rescue inevitable. He was rescued by local firefighters who were alerted by the road cleaners at 4:00 the next morning.
He survived the blaze, but refused to talk to police during subsequent questioning; it was initially believed that he was too traumatized to speak.
Trial, Incarceration, and Aftermath
Romand's trial began on 25 June 1996. On 6 July 1996 Romand was sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole for 22 years; he has been eligible for parole since 2015.
French author Emmanuel Carrère entered into correspondence with imprisoned Romand to write a book, published in 2000, L'Adversaire (The Adversary), based on the case. Nicole Garcia directed a movie, L'Adversaire (2002), based on the book; actor Daniel Auteuil played the part of Romand (renamed Jean-Marc Faure in the film).
Romand lied to his friends and family for 18 years, pretending to be a distinguished medical professional. He profited of his fake reputation and trustworthy appearance in order to con his acquaintances and his own family, by pretending to invest their money into attractive investments projects. He claimed knowing renowned medical figures and other famous people, like Bernard Kouchner. He would sometimes claim to have cancer as a mean to arouse mercy in other people. Also, some of his scams involved an inexistent cancer cure he said he could have access to due to his position at the W.H.O.
He is suspected of having killed his father-in-law by pushing him down the stairs.
During the course of his killing spree, he bludgeoned his wife to death with a rolling pin before shooting his own children with a suppressed .22 Long Rifle caliber carbine he had borrowed from his parents. The latters were also shot dead along with the family dog.
He attempted to kill his ex-mistress by spraying her with tear gas and strangling her with a cord.
Days before his rampage killing spree, Romand suffered several stressors that probably worsened his already staggering behavior and psychological balance: His ex-mistress started asking the money she had given to him, his wife became suspicious and started questioning his non-existent double life. All this factors contributed to increase the pressure to which Romand was normally exposed. The point of no return was probably reached (although this is not proven) in the middle of an argument he had with his wife the night of the murders, during which she became finally aware of the entirety of his lies.
He was declared to suffer from narcissistic personality disorder as well as from mythomaniac tendencies. He surely considered himself to be highly important for his family's lives, if not fundamental.
- January 9, 1993:
- Prévessin-Moëns, Ain:
- Florence Romand (his wife, bludgeoned to death with a rolling pin)
- Caroline Romand (his daughter, shot with a suppressed .22 Long Rifle carbine)
- Antoine Romand (his son, shot with a suppressed .22 Long Rifle carbine)
- Clairvaux-les-Lacs, Jura:
- Aimé Romand (his father, shot with a suppressed .22 Long Rifle carbine)
- Anne-Marie Romand (his mother, shot with a suppressed .22 Long Rifle carbine)
- Forest of Fontainebleau:
- Chantal Delalande (his ex-mistress, survived, sprayed with tear gas and attempted to strangle with a cord)
- Prévessin-Moëns, Ain:
- He was also suspected of having killed his father-in-law by pushing him down the stairs, because he had began to represent a threat to Romand's lies.
On Criminal Minds
- Season Five
- "Parasite" - While Romand was never directly mentioned or referenced on the show, he appears to have been an inspiration for the episode's unsub, Bill Hodges - Both were con artists-turned-spree killers who lied to their own families for many years and ultimately snapped after the weight of their lies became too much, killing victims who they believed would ultimately unmask their ruses, and both their killing sprees ended with some form of suicide (Hodges committed suicide by cop, while Romand seemingly tried to kill himself, but survived).