Sophie Toscan du Plantier: My Final Theory
In trying to set this case aside, I offer my strongest theory about what happened on the night of 22nd / 23rd December 1996.
There are so many lurid claims and theories about this case. None more so than now, with so many TV documentaries, podcasts and books. Virtually all of the visitors to this site come looking for answers about Sophie. I am pleased to share with you my answer, but I know already that you will not like it. This will be the final public post on Crime Guy about this terrible crime.
Any theory should be as simple as possible. I take these facts: that Sophie was killed some time on the night of Sunday, 22nd December 1996. It might have been after midnight, of course. I do not think the precise time is relevant. Sophie was killed outside. There is no disruption inside her house, no trail of blood. She was killed where she was found, inside the gate to her own drive. There is blood on the gate, her blood. No blood from the killer was ever found anywhere at the property. It is clear that Sophie did not reach the gate. She stopped (or was forcibly stopped) just before she reached it. Her clothing is caught on the wire fence. The killer used heavy objects found at the scene, which means he did not bring a weapon or, if he brought one, he only threatened with it and did not use it. These are the basic parameters.
One of the aspects of the lore of this case revolves around whether the main gate to the driveway was open at the time of the attack. Partly the importance is because Sophie was known to be particular about the gate being shut at all times, mainly to secure livestock but also to emphasize that it was the beginning of a shared but private drive, not the continuation of a public lane. Until this case is resolved, we cannot be certain whether the gate is important or not. So I have attempted two theories covering each possibility.
Option 1: Gate Open
It seems important whether the gate was open when Sophie arrived at it. She obviously arrived at the gate under her own free will. She was not carried there. She might have been chased there, but I do not think so. She often wore her boots inside the cottage, perhaps as some people wear slippers. I believe she was outside by choice. She either heard an engine, or some other noise outside, and went to investigate. Or else she had gone out and about to roam, on one of her evening walks. Yes, it was late, but it was a clear night, a nice night to explore.
One reason I think the status of the gate might be important is because if it was open at the time Sophie was attacked, it might reasonably be supposed that the killer arrived by car. It is certain that Sophie would have stopped to shut the gate after driving her own car through it earlier that night. So the gate was shut by Sophie when she returned home, and therefore anyone who thinks the gate was open when she was attacked is likely to believe it was the killer himself who opened it, the most likely reason being to drive up to the cottage by car. I think this is why the gate takes on such significance.
This is a remote location and only someone very familiar with the surrounding area is thought likely to walk over the fields to this location, which is why many people assume the killer drove to Sophie’s cottage. Perhaps this reduces the possibility that they came with the intent to kill: cars can be traced quite easily by their registration plate. The engine of a car might be the sound that caused Sophie to look out of the window, to rush down the hill to the gate to see who it was, to repel a possible intruder. Someone coming with murder in mind would at least consider approaching on foot.
However, were the gate open, how do we explain the position in which Sophie was found? If she was running away, why did she not just run through the open gate? What is the chance of her attacker catching up with her precisely at the location of the gate, unless it was closed? How did her clothing get caught up in the fence? One plausible explanation is that she tried to climb over the fence because it was lower than the closed gate, and closer too. The more I look into the crime scene, the more I try to find a narrative, the more certain I am that the gate was closed during the attack.
Initially, last summer, I always thought the gate had been open. If it was, then perhaps the reason her blood is smeared on the gate is because the killer leaned on it during and after for support. But on reflection I think she only stopped where she did because she could go no further.
Option 2: Gate Closed
My personal theory is that she stopped at the gate because it was closed. When I first started looking into this case, my instinct suggested that the killer drove to the cottage, knocked on the door, and was likely known to Sophie. She opened the door, they chatted, they argued, it got heated, she ran away… this no longer makes sense to me based on all of the additional sources and emails I have received. If she was being chased, the fence would have seemed easier an obstacle than a high, shut gate. She would have tried to clamber over the fence. And even if she was not being chased, it remains a sensible place to stop to either chat to the person making the disturbance or (if she sensed a threat) to challenge that person, to make them leave.
The disagreement went too far at this point, whatever it was about. Sophie was attacked and killed. The killer opened the gate, whether in a car or on foot, smearing her blood onto the gate, and left the scene as quickly as possible. He did dash up to the house first to check there was nothing to make people worry about Sophie. Perhaps it was the killer who pulled Sophie’s door shut at this point, smearing her blood near the handle. An open door causes people to ask questions. A closed door is normal. This part of the story tends to suggest Sophie was not out for a stroll. She had left in a hurry, sensing a disturbance or an intruder down by the gate. She was not wearing a coat.
Who perpetrated this crime? It is clear to me that this man did not come to kill. He brought no weapon. In my view also, he brought no vehicle. Perhaps he was in some respect a vagrant or someone with an itinerant lifestyle, perhaps staying at that time in one of the various communes in the area. I think he has a lot in common with the supposed killer of Madeleine McCann, Christian Brueckner. Read as much as you can about him and I think you have the profile of Sophie’s killer too.
Am I right? I am increasingly of the view that we will never find out. If it was a Christian B sort of guy, he is quite likely in prison for something else, or even more likely dead. Leaving no friends or relatives, nobody with whom he shared his terrible secret, this is the end of the road. The fact that no credible new breakthroughs have happened in so long makes me even more sure that something like this explains the deafening silence. If you are killed by someone you do not know, and there are no witnesses, and it is 1996, with precious little DNA knowledge or collection techniques, and no CCTV, your killer will most likely get away with murder.