The genesis of a curse. More than fifty years before the sordid assassination of little Grégory, the death of a child had already come to damn the family with innumerable secrets. It is the manslaughter of Étienne Villemin by his own mother, Jeanine Hollard.
Aged 23 at the material time, the young woman was married to Gaston Villemin, a bricklayer a year his senior. Together, they lived in Herpelmont (Vosges) with their three children: Étienne, Yvette and Albert. Albert who is none other, you may know, that the paternal grandfather of Grégory Villemin.
The couple then waited their fourth child, a little girl.
Étienne Villemin, victim of his mother’s violence?
If the small family seems ordinary at first glance, the patriarch noticed on several occasions that the oldest of his children, only four years old, presented traces of blows, especially on the face.
When he alerts his wife, she replies casually that the brat had scratched himself when he fell.
On February 14, 1931, Gaston Villemin discovered his son’s injury
Everything changes on the evening of February 14, 1931. Coming home from work, Gaston Villemin surprises his wife putting their son, Étienne, to bed… With a beret on his head.
While Jeanine refuses to answer her husband’s questions, the latter removes the child’s headgear to discover with horror a “long and deep head wound”as evidenced by an article by The Republican East published on May 14, 1931.
Overwhelmed by Gaston’s questions, the mother of the family ends up confessing: in a fit of anger, she had thrown the little one against the stove a fortnight ago.
If the wound seemed insignificant at first, the compresses applied by the father were not enough to contain the wound, and the boy began to have a fever.
Thus, the mason ended up calling a doctor who ordered the immediate dispatch of little Etienne to Bruyeres Hospital…
Death of Étienne Villemin: what does the autopsy say?
Unfortunately, and despite the care given to Étienne, he succumbed to his injuries. next February 21due to wound infection.
“The doctor in charge of the child’s autopsy estimated that this one must have been abused for some time and that he had no not been fed enough“, added the regional daily.
The death of the child immediately led the arrest of Jeanine Villemin. The investigation determined that her two other children were “not kept very cleanly”and questions were asked about his addiction to alcohol.
Jeanine Hollard sentenced to three years in prison for failing to care for a child
judged for the violence inflicted on her sonthe great-grandmother of Grégory Villemin recounts in detail the course of events.
The young mother got angry after little Étienne vomited on his plate, and threw him headlong against the stove. If she thought, at first, that it was a simple sore, she dared not call a doctor afterwards.
After appealing, Jeanine Hollard was sentenced to three years in prison for failing to care for a child, and gives birth to her daughter, also called Jeanine while still behind bars in 1932. She was released in 1934where she returns home to her children and her husband.
In 1942, Jeanine abandoned her husband and children to flee with a German soldier.
If Gaston Villemin hired a divorce proceeding against his wife since this affair, it appears that he has finally forgiven her for his abuse. Because in 1939, the mason still lives with his family when he was mobilized during the Second World War.
The 30-year-old is taken prisoner, falls ill and returns to his family in 1942… Where he finds no one, because his wife has made the trunk with a German soldier, a certain Hanscame to compensate for the labor with the isolated farmers.
Jeanine sells the animals and her belongings, entrusts Yvette and Albert to a friend and leaves with her lover, taking her youngest daughter with her.
The suicide of Gaston Villemin
When he returns from the front, Gaston cannot bear the shock and hangs from a tree in the little wood, behind the church of La Neuveville-devant-Lépanges.
A drama that marks for life Albert Villeminwhich has just celebrated its tenth candle…