As a general rule, gentlemen of the cloth have enough to do saving souls without going around killing people.
But as we all know, it is the exception to the rule that makes life so very interesting.
The 400 citizens of the tiny French village of Uruffe were delighted when Cure Guy Desnoyers was assigned to their village to assist their aged Abbe in his divine tasks.
At 31, Father Desnoyers was somewhat older than the average novice priest, having spent the first two years of his education pursuing a medical degree.
Father Desnoyers’ parents could not afford to financially assist their son. As a result, he had to leave the field of medicine, eventually to arrive at ecclesiastical pursuits.
Father Desnoyers was soon dispensing quasi-medical advice for minor ailments.
He also organized a teenage theatre group. When the Abbe went to that great parish in the sky, Father Desnoyers became the village’s chief spiritual leader.
In August 1956, an incident took place in Uruffe that would have far-reaching effects on Father Desnoyers’ religious career.
Nineteen-year-old Regine Fays checked her lunar calculations one more time. There was no doubt about it. She was pregnant.
Her mother cried. Uruffe girls didn’t do such things. In Paris, yes, but not in their own village. There would be a scandal. Worse, a disgrace on the Fays’ good family name.
When Madame Fays had spent her wrath, she gingerly inquired, “Who’s the father?” Regine refused to tell.
When Papa Fays heard he would soon be a grandpere, he also begged for the name of the father. Regine declared that she would go to the grave with her secret.
That night, Mama and Papa Fays discussed the mystery and came up with a solution. Their daughter had made love to a stranger. Who knows, she might not even know her lover’s name. Mon Dieu, what is the world coming to!
Months passed. Regine no longer could conceal her delicate condition.
It was a juicy scandal. Truth to tell, Mama and Papa Fays wouldn’t have made it through that fall if it hadn’t been for Father Desnoyers. The kindly priest spent many an evening comforting the parents of the disgraced girl.
On Saturday, Dec. 1, Father Desnoyers had dinner at the Fays’ home. He told Monsieur Fays that he would be travelling to Applemont to visit his parents on Monday. Monsieur Fays remarked that he would also be away from the village that day. He was travelling to Commercy to purchase a carriage for his expected grandchild.
On Sunday, Father Desnoyers conducted services and showed a movie at the village hall. At the movie’s conclusion, he announced he would be visiting his parents for a few days.
Bright and early the next morning, Father Desnoyers raced away in his Citroen. Monsieur Fays left for Commercy by bus. That evening, at 6 p.m., Regine told her mother that she was going for a walk. Some villagers saw her strolling through town. While she was out, her father came home with the new baby carriage.
A few hours passed. Regine failed to return home. Monsieur and Madame Fays worried. They took to the streets, inquiring about their daughter. Some people had seen her walking, but that was all.
In desperation, they called Father Desnoyers in Applemont. He told them not to worry, but was himself disturbed enough to return to Uruffe immediately. By 10 p.m., he was in the Fays’ home.
A search party was organized. More than 100 volunteers trampled to help in the wee hours of that cold December morning. Searchers didn’t find Regine.
Father Desnoyers, accompanied by three men in his Citroen, came across a crumpled heap about three kilometres from the village. Regine lay partially nude under her overcoat. She had been shot in the back of the neck. Her abdomen had been slashed open. Beside her on the road was a 6 mm cartridge case. Not far from her body lay the body of her newborn child. The baby had been stabbed several times. Both mother and child were dead.
Father Desnoyers advised the villagers to guard the bodies, while he returned to Uruffe for the police. Police from Nancy had been assisting in the search, and it was these officers who returned with Father Desnoyers.
The bodies were removed and examined by medical experts. Unbelievably, Regine had been subjected to a caesarian operation performed by someone with some medical knowledge, but no skill.
Her unborn child had been taken from her body after she was dead. Doctors stated that the child was alive when delivered and subsequently stabbed to death.
Commissaire Jean Chapuis headed the investigation. He found out immediately that there was only one registered automatic pistol in Uruffe. It was owned by none other than Father Guy Desnoyers.
Chapuis received a strange visitor at his make-shift office. She was a young girl of the village who would only divulge her information with the understanding Chapuis would never reveal her identity.
He agreed and the young girl told how she had been a virgin until Father Desnoyers had his way with her.
She believed other girls of the village had been shorn of their virginity by the priest. She also believed Father Desnoyers was the father of Regine Fays’ baby.
Chapuis called on Father Desnoyers and asked him to produce his pistol.
Ballistic evidence proved the automatic was the murder weapon. Father Desnoyers maintained his innocence for some time before suddenly exclaiming “It was I.”
He then revealed he had been intimate with Regine on 31 occasions. He admitted killing her and using his pocket knife to perform the caesarian operation.
He had arranged a clandestine rendezvous with Regine for Monday at 7 p.m. Regine got into his car and they drove away, stopping three kilometres from the village. Regine was puzzled. Father Desnoyers told his astonished interrogators that he told the girl he wished to give her absolution.
Regine ridiculed him and ran from the car. Father Desnoyers ran after the fleeing girl, firing two shots into the back of her neck.
He claimed he had no memory of what transpired after the shooting, stating he came to his senses while wiping blood from his knife.
He then raced to his parents’ home in Applemont in plenty of time to receive Monsieur Fays’ phone call. Later, Father Desnoyers revealed he had baptized his baby daughter before killing her.
When his confession became public knowledge, Desnoyers was defrocked as a priest of the Roman Catholic Church and excommunicated.
His murder trial was nothing more than a formal stage for one of the most horrendous crimes ever committed. Desnoyers was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labour.
After being confined for 22 years, Desnoyers was freed in August 1978, due to an amnesty granted by the French government.