“Jean-Marc Reiser is an intelligent person, but who prefers to be cruel”

Madame Emilli rummages through a pile of papers. One by one, the prisoners’ letters pass under his fingers. At 70, the straight-shouldered lady hears people’s comments well. She knows what they think of her work as a prison visitor. “Why do you want to see such people? Criminals and rapists…” Mrs. Emilli understands that we may find this strange and unacceptable. But she does not talk to the inmates for what they have done. Simply for what they are: men.

Suddenly she pulls an old envelope out of the pile. Jean-Marc Reiser. His memory had not failed him. When this name appeared in the media following the disappearance of young Sophie Le Tan in 2018, Ms Emilli wondered if it was really him. Twenty years earlier, in 1999, she had met Jean-Marc Reiser in Besançon prison. He was then 39 years old. She visited him every Thursday. After that they had carried on a correspondence. As often, the letters were distributed in time until the contact was lost.

Me Pierre Giuriato leans against the microphone installed on the defense benches. On the screens at the Bas-Rhin Assize Court, Madame Emilli wears a smart suit and a white square.

“–Did you see a part of humanity in Mr. Reiser?asks the lawyer.

-Of course. Of course. To me it is as if there are two people in one.replies Mrs. Emilli.

She remembers a man open to psychology, religion, spirituality, meditation, who at the time planned to study archaeology. “Intelligent, brilliant, cultured. This is the man I knew in detentionMrs. Emilli continues. And there was a man outside who might be inhabited by certain demons. But I never saw him.”

When Madame Emilli went through her correspondence at the end of 2018, the investigators searched Jean-Marc Reiser’s past. They were looking for Isabelle B., the first Isabelle in her life. Her maiden name, like her married name, was a common surname in Alsace. So one by one the investigators called all the White Pages numbers. Each time they appeared and simply asked: “Do you know Isabelle B.?” Nobody knew Isabelle B. Until a man answered. “It must be about the Reiser case”had responded Isabelle’s father-in-law.

Isabelle B. met Jean-Marc Reiser in 1980. She was 19 years old. She couldn’t leave him until she was 24: “It took me a year to leave. I had packed my suitcase. I left on a Saturday without telling him anything. She remembers the stitches in the emergency room at 3 a.m. after he threw a drink at her head. She remembers that he hated cats and animals in general. About the trip to Venice, where they had to go home because he had a fight with the driver of their taxi. From his love of ancient stones and Greek mythology.

She can talk about her unhappy childhood, her abusive father and her mother who left them alone. “Always the same excuses.” As he walked, Jean-Marc Reiser tapped his right heel on his left heel after a few steps. She wonders if he kept this tic. She says: “If you leave me on the jury, he will be convicted.”

“He calculated everything he did”

At the helm, Isabelle M., the other Isabelle who shared Jean-Marc Reiser’s life, is carried away: “I would have liked to have been voiceless today. What is the point of talking? I spoke. And he’s still there! He is always there! He’s always there!”

It was a long time ago, but Isabelle M. has not forgotten anything. In the summer of 1986, she had only wanted to work for a few weeks to pay for her biology studies. She had got a job as a letter carrier. Jean-Marc Reiser was immediately insistent. She wasn’t “not very motivated”, but ended up saying yes. To have peace, basically.

36 years later, she still has to tell about those weeks of hell. Curious, unpleasant remarks (“Don’t eat this, you’ll get fat”), and this feeling of being caught in a vise. From the first days she had wanted to leave him. Jean-Marc Reiser repeated to her that she was the woman of his life. An Isabelle had left him and he had prayed to God to find another Isabelle.

One day, Isabelle M. wakes her up and goes to the swimming pool with a friend. Jean-Marc Reiser finds her and forces her into his car. He talks incessantly, drives like a madman, eyes bulging. He insults her. Isabelle M. tries “to make oneself very small”, but the vehicle does not stop. They arrive at a forest. Jean-Marc Reiser has always had a weakness for forests. As a child, he lived with his family in forest houses, the official residence of his father, who at the time worked for the National Forestry Office. He likes to go there for hours, his mother confirmed. So on this summer day in 1986, Jean-Marc Reiser still wants to go there.

Isabelle is scared. He pulls her out of the vehicle by throwing her to the ground and kicking her several times in the stomach and back. “He was satisfiedshe explains. I didn’t have any bruises, I… If he wanted to kill me, he would have hit a lot harder, you know? He contained himself.” Anne, Reiser’s last companion, said herself: “He knew where to hit to hurt. Even a little kick.” “He calculated everything he did.”

Jean-Marc Reiser takes Isabelle M. to a river. She thinks he will drown her. She doesn’t know what to do “do not arouse his hatred”. She just wanted to work that summer and now night falls and she doesn’t know what will happen to her. Jean-Marc Reiser looks at her and spits: “You’re not even crying!” He beats her and brings her back to the car. When he returns, he locks her in his apartment. She sleeps in the living room. First tries to escape, but he constricts his throat. “I was unlucky, it was summer vacation and no one was there”, she told the court. Her brothers are gone, her best friend too.

“Mr. Reiser is still someone who goes crazy”

When her older brother comes home, she manages to make a deal with him. He waits for her outside. She jumps over the window with her bag and runs to seek refuge with her parents. Then Isabelle M. no longer goes out. A few weeks later she traveled to Brest to continue her studies, this time in geology. At the station, Jean-Marc Reiser is waiting for him behind a newsstand. He hits her. She gets on the train. In Finistère he appears behind his window or in the university restaurant and then ends up leaving. For a year, he sends her a bouquet of flowers or a love letter every day: “Flowers I give them, love letters I throw them away”breath Isabelle M.

“Mr. Reiser is still someone who goes crazy”, Joëlle also says. She stayed with Jean-Marc Reiser for ten years, from 1987 to 1997. Together they had a daughter. They did not live together.

“I cooked for him. If he didn’t like it, he let it be known by throwing the plates against the walls., she explains. Anne, who became his partner when he was released from prison in 2010, has similar memories. When she invites Jean-Marc Reiser to her home for the first time, she prepares him a pan-fried vegetable and a minced steak. Jean-Marc Reiser looks at her. “Next time it will be mashed fish”he warns.

Joëlle remembers the blows, her back falling on the stove and her eyebrow banging violently on the furniture lock. Faced with her best friend Gabrielle, who advises her to get closer to associations to find help, Joëlle shakes her head: “You don’t know what he’s capable of.” She wants to leave him, or rather that he leaves her life: “He was the one who didn’t understandspecifies Joëlle at the helm. Anyway, Mr. Reiser is always the one who doesn’t understand.

“He’s just very much in love.
Don’t play with fire”

At the beginning of his relationship with Joëlle, Jean-Marc Reiser left to study at the Regional Institute of Administration (IRA) in Bastia. He meets Virginia there. They go out for a bit, maybe a month, but Virginie quickly notices Reiser’s quirks.

One day he brings her “a bunch of children’s drawings” and asks her to write them down, like a school teacher. Another on the terrace tells her: “I dream that in another life I am a king and that hundreds of maidens are brought to me. And this king would have a son who would be called Victor because it means ‘The Victorious.’ Victor is Jean-Marc Reiser’s middle name.

These are small things, Virginie admits to the Assize Court, but “little things that run through your head”. When she wants to leave him, Jean-Marc Reiser swings the chairs across the room before she leaves Virginie’s apartment. Then the ordeal begins: at night he calls her from a phone box, tries to break down her door, then leaves and drops bits of toilet paper on it. It says insanity: “I’ll Smash Your Ass” and other insults. Virginie is horrified.

At the police station he was told: “Ma’am, we’re not complaining about that. We’ll talk to him and we’ll get back to you.” Virginie asks to spend the night there. She will sleep anywhere. The police refuse. When they call back two days later, they explain to her: “It will stop. He’s just very much in love. Don’t play with fire.” But Virginie doesn’t play with anything, and it doesn’t stop. At school, he brushes past her in the hallways and whispers words in her ear. “I think ‘bitch’ was the word I heard the most that spring”she smiles sheepishly.

They are in the same workgroup. Jean-Marc Reiser stands in front of her and watches her for an hour without saying anything. “An hour is a long time when you’re scared”, Virginie told the court. School officials use the same language as the police: “Oh you know, he’s a very loving person.”

We offer him to change group, we offer him to transfer it to Lille. Virginia refuses. It’s not up to her to go. The men of his family then serve as his escort, accompanying him morning and evening to the IRA in Bastia. She always has a small knife in her pocket. Until a gym class. The PE teacher, a Corsican, moves towards Virginie.

“–Are you the one with a problem with a boy?he asks.

-Yesshe replies.

“It’s going to stop.”

Things ended well.

“A funny smell, a hospital smell”

Antoine Giessenhoffer, the president of the Bas-Rhin Assize Court, turns to the accused’s box.

“-Sir. Reiser, what is your image of women?

– It is difficult to answer this question. In general, I do not have a negative image of womenhe answers under his surgical mask. What Virginie doesn’t say is that she had a boyfriend in Paris at the same time…

– Yes, and you were with Joëlle at the same time.

-Yes it is true, he murmurs. But hey… it came to me… maybe it comes from my childhood.”

In front of the court, Anne, Jean-Marc Reiser’s last companion, ties herself up: “I have the impression that he is very small inside. He is a dwarf playing the giants. One who is wise but prefers to be cruel.”

Moving her apartment in 1998, then separated from Jean-Marc Reiser, Joëlle emptied her fridge. At the bottom she found a vial. Veterinary anesthetic, she thought. Isabelle B., his companion from 1980 to 1985, for her part, in front of the investigators, recalled the smell of Jean-Marc Reiser when he came home in the middle of the night: “A funny smell. A hospital smell.

Joëlle got rid of the product and didn’t tell anyone. Until the investigators question him. “Jean-Marc Reiser is an icebergshe told them. Ten percent over and ninety percent under. No one really knows him.”

Leave a Comment