by Alison Flood, in The Guardian
Stéphane Bourgoin, whose books about murderers have sold millions, says he invented much of his experience, including training with FBI.
An online investigation has exposed French author Stéphane Bourgoin, whose books about serial killers have sold millions of copies in France, as a serial liar.
Bourgoin is the author of more than 40 books and is widely viewed as a leading expert on murderers, having hosted a number of French television documentaries on the subject. He has claimed to have interviewed more than 70 serial killers, trained at the FBI’s base in Quantico, Virginia, and that his own wife was murdered in 1976, by a man who confessed to a dozen murders on his arrest two years later.
But in January, anonymous collective the 4ème Oeil Corporation accused him of lying about his past, and Bourgoin has now admitted to the French press that the wife never existed. He also acknowledged that he never trained with the FBI, never interviewed Charles Manson, met far fewer killers than he has previously claimed, and never worked as a professional footballer – another claim he had made.
“My lies have weighed me down,” he told Paris Match last week in his first interview about the accusations. “I have arrived at the balance-sheet time.”
In a wide-ranging interview with Le Parisien on Tuesday, he went further, describing himself as a mythomaniac. “I completely admit my faults. I am ashamed to have lied, to have concealed things,” Bourgoin said.
The wife he had said was murdered never existed, he admitted, saying that she was drawn from a young woman called Susan Bickrest, who he briefly met in a Florida bar. In 1975, 24-year-old Bickrest was murdered by the serial killer Gerald Stano, who later admitted to killing 41 women and was executed in 1998.
“It was bullshit that I took on,” Bourgoin told Le Parisien. “I didn’t want people to know the real identity of someone who was not my partner, but someone who I had met five or six times in Daytona Beach, and who I liked.”
Bourgoin told Le Figaro that he felt he needed psychological counselling, and that “all these lies are absolutely ridiculous, because if we objectively take stock of my work, I think it was enough in itself”. He said he had exaggerated and lied about his life because he had always felt he was not really loved.
“I am profoundly and sincerely sorry. I am ashamed of what I did, it’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said.