On March 22nd, 1997, a police officer discovered 9 garbage bags containing the body parts of 3 different women, along the Rue Emile Vandervelde in the village of Cuesmes, (very close to Mons, Belgium).
The next day on the 23rd of March another series of garbage bags were discovered, this time in Mons itself. This bag contained a woman's torso, which police believed had been "surgically" dismembered. This torso was believed to belong to a woman who had very recently been killed, whereas the other murders were believed to have been older and stored in a refrigerator.
In April, more body parts were found near the Haine River, approximately a 30-minute drive away from Mons. In these bags, they found one head, one foot, and one leg. In addition to body parts, some of the bin bags contained brightly coloured women's underwear. We also know that one of the body parts discovered did contain a trace amount of semen.
Carmelina Russo (42) disappeared on Thursday 4th of January, 1996. Her pelvis was discovered on the 21st of January in the Scheldt, in the department of Nord in France just across the border with Belgium. Carmelina worked in a department store as a demonstrator. On the day of her disappearance, Carmelina visited her son (who was in prison) and was last seen in a store near her apartment. When she is reported missing police initially believe she may have committed suicide.
Martine Bohn (43) had previously worked as a sex worker and was from France. She went missing on Sunday the 21st of July 1996, the same month her torso was discovered by the Haine River. Martine was transgender and had sadly lost all contact with her family. She worked in "seedy" bars in both France and Belgium, and when her remains were discovered her breasts had been cut off.
Jaqueline Leclercq (33) went missing on Sunday 22nd of December, 1996. She was a mother of four children. Her arms and legs were discovered on the 22nd of March, 1997, in one of the first garbage bags discovered below the rue de Emile Vandervelde in Cuesmes. Jacquline had previously split from her husband and did not have custody of the children. She was known to hang around the train station in Mons before she went missing. I've seen it reported that she was last known to have been going to the butcher's shop before she disappeared.
Nathalie Godart (22) disappeared in March 1997. Her bust was found in the Haine River. Nathalie was a mother, however her child had been taken into care. At the time of her murder, she lived in a bedsit in Mons and would visit downtown bars. The bartenders described her as promiscuous, however, her sister was clear that she did not engage in sex work.
Begonia Valencia, (37) disappeared from her home in Frameries (Belgium) in the summer of 1997. She was divorced and had a daughter. Begonia had been treated for schizophrenia and had stayed in rehab for some time. Her daughter described her as being incredibly weak, struggling to walk, and having black ulcers on her back from lying down so much. Her remains were found in an orchard near Hyon, however, other parts of her remains had previously been found in the garbage bags. A neighbour told the police that Begonia would ride a bus every evening.
The Killer / Information
Interestingly, the places where the garbage bags were discovered all had morbid names like Rue de Depot (Dump Street), Chemin de l’Inquietude (the Path of Worry), and the rivers Haine (Hate) and Trouille (Jitters). The police believed that the killer had some medical experience and released the following statement in 1997: "This is clearly the work of a highly intelligent, ritual psychopath, as you can see from the way the body parts are cut, the way they are wrapped and the places in which they are deposited." However, it's important to note that since then police and the FBI have backtracked on this statement. One reason they no longer believe he is a butcher or a medical practitioner is that on one of the thighs discovered in a garbage bag, the perpetrator had to cut in three different places before he found the right place.
The FBI also said that the killer likely had a steady job due to the women all being murdered on weekends. However, I can't find substantiating evidence to confirm that the women were killed on weekends (when Carmelina went missing on a Thursday and it's not confirmed exactly when Nathalie and Begonia disappeared.)
The official assessment of the Butcher of Mons made by Belgian psychiatrists concluded that the unknown killer was a “meticulous anal retentive” whose murders were neat, if not obsessive. However, this contradicts the finding that three cuts had to be made in the thigh to find the right place to sever it.
Martine's breasts being cut off could also give us a window into the psychology of the killer. It's possible that this mutilation was done in outrage at discovering that Martine was transgender. These murders were likely committed out of a sexual motive - and so perhaps the killer flew into a rage when he discovered that she wasn't the gender he expected.
Despite the women being killed months apart, each of the body parts initially discovered were "fresh" - with the discovering officer saying he'd know if they weren't due to the smell. This led police to believe that the women's bodies had been kept in a refrigerator. This could mean that the killer worked as a butcher, a mortician, or in a hospital with access to a morgue. Although other professions could give access to refrigeration storage. Although in the food industry or a factory setting you would think bodies would be noticed, whereas in a morgue or a butchery, they could be hidden/remain unnoticed. The killer could have also had his own refrigerator, however, it would need to be of a good size and it in that case it would make sense that he lived alone. Another potentially crucial piece of evidence is that all the garbage bags were tied in the same way, almost like a signature. However, some remains were found outside garbage bags (for example the skull found in the orchard.)
Something that is incredibly important to understanding a killer's psyche and modus operandi is victimology. Each of the women was vulnerable in their own ways, be it from the dangers of sex work, mental illness, drink or drug dependence etc. Many of the women also used public transport and some of the women were described at the time as "promiscuous". All of this means that a predator seeking women whom he could get into a car willingly or even by force would have had the opportunity with these women.