A brother and sister are chatting on the balcony of their sixth-floor Monte Carlo condominium. It’s the afternoon of the Grand Prix in May of the 1970s. There is a shimmering effect from the sun on the dinghies in the turquoise harbour. The foliage on the trees is so dense that they appear almost black.


The Unraveling of an Expert on Serial Killers

Stéphane Bourgoin is the younger brother, and he’s in his twenties. From Paris, he’s made the trip to see his sister, Claude-Marie Dugué. Dugué watches the race cars go around the city and careen onto the straightaway on Boulevard Albert 1er from his apartment.

The Unraveling of an Expert on Serial Killers

Bourgoin comes in close and tells her, over the rumble, that he had a girlfriend who had been murdered and “torn up into bits” in America, where he had recently been residing. Hélène was her given name.

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It was one of those “remember exactly what you were doing that day at that particular moment, the news is so startling and indelible,” as Dugué reflected subsequently upon Bourgoin’s revelation.

In the midst of the roaring F1 engines, there was utter confusion and a palpable sense of dread. Both Dugué and Bourgoin have the same father but separate mothers. Dugué didn’t feel comfortable asking questions about a girlfriend she hadn’t met or heard of before that day because they’d only recently become friends. She finally spoke up about how unsettling the situation was for her. She merely expressed regret to Bourgoin.

Bourgoin was working in the field of B movies at the time, reviewing fright flicks for fanzines and even dabbling in adult fare. Eventually, he began penning his own books, which quickly established him as France’s preeminent authority on serial killers.

Grasset, a prominent publishing house, produced five volumes of his masterpiece, “Serial Killers,” a thousand-page compendium of depravity. Bourgoin gained an especially fervent following among the true crime subculture thanks to his tireless touring of book festivals.

One of Bourgoin’s fans, he claims, sent him copies of his novels that had been annotated with objects like scissors, razors, and pubic hairs, which the reader had attached to the pages to represent concepts or ideas in the books.

The Legal Community And the Police Force Both Admired Bourgoin.

“He was one of the first persons in France to argue that serial killers weren’t solely in America,” Jacques Dallest, the general prosecutor of the Grenoble appeals court, told me.

In light of Dallest’s admiration for Bourgoin, the latter was invited to deliver a lecture at France’s prestigious École Nationale de la Magistrature (the “National Academy of Judges and Prosecutors”).

Bourgoin also spoke at France’s Centre National de Training à la Police Judiciaire, where he boasted of establishing the country’s first squad of serial-killer profilers.

Bourgoin, Ever the Vivacious Promoter, Made Regular Media Appearances.

A total of eighty-four television appearances were logged over that one month, he claimed. “I get up at 4:45 in the morning to be on the morning shows and then I go home at midnight to eat.”

He purposefully went for an appearance that was something between Ace Ventura and Sherlock Holmes (ascot, horn-rimmed glasses) (cerulean blazer, silky skull-print shirt). He was a fan of eccentric footwear and would occasionally don a pair of white brogues with fake blood splatters.

Claiming to have the serial killer from Florida’s (Gerard Schaefer) remains, he posted them on Facebook. He declared in 2015, “To each person who buys my book, I will offer a tiny bag containing a little bit of Schaefer” (fingernails, hair, ear, kneecap, skin, bones, etc.).

He also said that female admirers would be prioritised. For his conversations with convicted killers, Bourgoin is well known. He claimed to have led 77 over the period of 40 years, “in the four corners of the earth.”

Stories of his interviews with serial killers such as “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz (“David, I come here, you agreed to meet me, but I hope you’re not going to tell me the same bullshit that you told at your trial”), “Killer Clown” John Wayne Gacy (“He confesses seventeen additional crimes to me that he hadn’t even been suspected of”), and “Homicide Hospital Orderly” Donald Harvey (“He confesses seventeen additional crimes to me (who, Bourgoin said, grabbed his buttocks during the encounter).

In his 2012 book “Mes Discussions avec les Tueurs” (translated as “My Talks with Killers”), Bourgoin warned that confronting such people could be mentally risky. The only way to get through to a psychopath—someone who is skilled at manipulation and deceit and has no moral compass—is to let down your guard and reveal yourself to them totally.

When you tell people that your life’s work is studying serial killers, the first thing they ask is, “Why?” Bourgoin said that after Hélène’s death, he felt compelled to experience “a type of catharsis” or “a personal exorcism” by confronting the worst that humanity has to offer.

The Americanized version of her name, “Eileen,” entered his vocabulary at some point. He said that they met in the 1970s while he was living in Los Angeles and doing B movies; that they moved in together; that he went on vacation in 1976; and that upon his return, he found her body “mutilated, raped, and almost beheaded” in their shared home.

After two years on the run, the killer was caught and confessed to over a dozen more killings. He had been sentenced to death and was now waiting to die.

When an Interviewer Asked to See a Picture of Eileen,

Bourgoin would pull out a black and white photo of the young couple. That was so well put together that it looked expertly done. It’s a closeup of the two of them staring directly at one other.

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Eileen’s hair is shaped like feathers, and her brows are a colourful rainbow. It looks that Bourgoin is dressed in a leather jacket with a large shearling collar and has long hair. He is taking a defensive stance, with his back to her. She raises her crooked grin to his face. A physical contact of the noses is imminent.

‘Eileen was his hook,’ Hervé Weill, who co-runs a crime-fiction festival at which Bourgoin frequently participated, said to me. The public’s reaction to the news of her death was intense, giving Bourgoin’s work an air of moral superiority.

YouTube commenter “I knew of Stéphane Bourgoin well before this programme having seen practically all his interviews with prisoners, but I’m only now learning that he was the partner of a victim” describes how familiar they were with Bourgoin before discovering that he was the spouse of a victim. Amazing human being.