The Pauline Picard Disappearance

The Pauline Picard Disappearance

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.

The Change

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.

The Body

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.

Article on The Dead Bodies

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…

If you have any thoughts or opinions on the subject we have covered here today, please leave them in the comment section below.

11 comments on “The Pauline Picard Disappearance

  1. It’s probably stupid of me but I feel rather sad that they sent the poor girl back to the orphanage. She needed a home, and for a moment she had one, and then they took it back off her 🙁

    I think the farmer was the culprit in all of this. For him to lose his mind the way he did tells me that he couldn’t handle the guilt of what he did. The male skull though, and lack of child’s skull……that’s a weird one :-/

    1. I actually feel the same way Kellie – my heart skipped a beat when I found out she was discarded so easily and put into an orphanage…
      Seems heartless to make such a bad situation even worse doesn’t it?

  2. True….it was really bad of them to put the child in an orphanage but I guess they had a terrible grief of losing their daughter …
    Where the neighbour is concerned according to me he did not kill anyone but was a witness to what happend to their daughter….. The story is mysterious …..but what if the killer kidnapped the child to blackmail and once he heard that they got their child back (which he knew wasn’t their actual child) he thought it would be hard to convince the parents that that’s not their daughter ..their daughter is actually kidnapped so he killed the child as the child was useless to him this explains why the body was not found when they carried out a search mission for the first time ……..the skull of an adult male would be a another murder case altogether….. it was just a coincidence of it being in the same place or intended to confuse the police

    1. All good points there Sakshi – thank you for taking the time to read the article and leave your opinion! 🙂

  3. The only reason I could think of why the family would send the girl back to an orphanage was before for 1) the murderer was never discovered for them, and they may have feared it happening again and 2) they may have believed there was hope of the girls real family coming back to claim her. I do believe the farmer did it. He had a psychological break down when visiting the area near the abandoned body because he couldn’t handle the guilt. He kept the girl’s head as a souvenir, and who isn’t to say the male skull wasn’t a previous victim of his?

    1. It’s also possible that the farmer witnessed something in connection to the disappearance, but was unable to do anything or did not speak out. Hence the guilt.

      Or there is simply no connection between the farmer’s words and the child’s disappearance. He was mad and blurted out words that had no real meaning – we are only giving meaning to his statement from our perspective.

  4. Orphanage is better and safe place for the other kid, than with these incompetent parents. I suspect it could be them doing some kind of satanic rituals killed their own child. At least look a like child is safe in orphanage. The neighbor farm might have became insane seeing the Pauline parents acting innocent and getting away with it.

  5. Read the well known Dave Paulides books on bizarre cases of missing people. Throughout the world and to this day,2018, adults and/or children just go missing even a few steps near their parents, found in great distance …sometimes over two mountain ranges where they never could have walked, clothes folded neatly sometimes, found AFTER the searches were conducted over and over again. Farmer could have done it but not all these other worldwide cases. He could indeed be guilty but also affected by some extreme shift of spacetime or phenomenon.

    1. Hi Kim – I really like your angle on extreme shift of space-time or phenomenon linked to disappearances, there could be a cool article in there somewhere! 🙂

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