When Pauline Picard was just two years old she disappeared from her family home in Goas Al Ludu, France (April 1922).
A large search mission was put together by the police force that involved hundreds of local volunteers – they had no luck whatsoever in locating her.
Locals began pointing the finger at various gypsy groups in the area – had they kidnapped this young child and integrated her into their community?
A Few Weeks Later…
The situation looked pretty dire really – the gypsies seemed to know nothing about the girl and she remained missing…until word came that a young girl matching Pauline’s description had been found wandering alone in Cherbourg.
Now, Cherbourg was just over 300 miles away from Pauline’s home – how had she managed to get this far across the country?
Her parents managed to identify her through a photograph taken by a Cherbourg police officer and the girl was rushed back home to Goas Al Ludu.
At first the girl’s parents were over the moon about the safe return of their daughter, but within hours they realized something was very wrong.
Pauline seemed extremely distant with her parents – like she didn’t really recognize them. On top of this she did not respond when spoken to in her native Breton dialect.
But she was home safely, and that was all that mattered…
God Help me, I am Guilty…
A few weeks after Pauline’s return her parents began to suspect that she was not really their daughter. During this period a neighboring farmer (Yves Martin) called to their home and asked them if they really thought they had found Pauline.
Without warning he suddenly broke down and exclaimed “God help me, I am guilty”. He then turned and ran off into the local fields.
Yves Martin was found babbling outdoors a few hours later. He made no sense whatsoever and was eventually committed to a local insane asylum.
A short time later another neighboring farmer was walking across the Picard farmland when he found something truly disturbing: the body of a very young girl.
This young girl had actually been decapitated and brutally disfigured. A search of the area found her skull lying in the undergrowth nearby.
The body was in an advanced state of decay so identifying the girl was extremely difficult. Eventually her clothes were found and Pauline’s mother claimed that they were the same clothes her daughter was wearing the day she vanished.
The problem with all this was that the exact same area had been canvassed by the police during the initial search for Pauline. The body had been left their AFTER the search had finished.
When the skull was eventually included in the autopsy the authorities realized that it did not belong to the body of the young girl – it was actually an adult male skull.
The case seemed to have a never-ending list of questions that twisted their way from start to finish – unfortunately it has never been solved…
- Did Yves Martin kill Pauline?
- Who did the skull belong to?
- Who was the girl from Cherbourg and how come her real parents never came forward?
- How did Pauline’s parents get this wrong – why were they convinced this was their daughter?
The body found on the Picard’s property could never be properly identified – all they had to go on were the clothes found nearby.
The young girl they thought was Pauline, was sent back to Cherbourg and ended up in a local orphanage. The Picard’s lived out the remainder of their lives searching for the truth about their daughter…
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