Never Quit Looking
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Never Quit Looking

François Thillman (Missing Person)

A recent international student graduate vanished after leaving a nightclub in one of several similar cases across France in the winter of 2010–2011. He remains the only one still missing.

Nickname: Unknown
Alternative Name: Unknown

Spëtznumm: Onbekannt
Alternativ Numm: Onbekannt

La Apoda: Desconocida
Nombres Alternativos: Desconocida

The Disappearance (Verschwannen) (La Desaparición)

Date: October 4, 2008 (Saturday)
Location: Sedalia, Missouri, United States
Taken By: Unknown
Situation: Missing

Vermësst aus: Ivry-sur-Seine, Paräis, Frankräich
Vermësst Datum: 11. Dezember 2010 (Freideg)
Verdächtegen: Onbekannt

Fecha: 4 de octubre de 2008 (sábado)
Falta de: Sedalia, Missouri, Estados Unidos
Sospechoso: Desconocido
Situación: Desaparecido

Circumstances (Ëmstänn) (Circunstancias)

For François Thillman, it was meant to be only a brief visit to Paris. No one knew the stopover would tragically turn into a missing persons case that remains unsolved more than a decade later.

A native of Beringen, Luxembourg, François was a well-travelled, globally-oriented young man with experience studying abroad and fluent in several languages. In 2010, he had just graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Paris VIII and was moving on to Berlin, Germany with a new job. The position required an official copy of his university diploma, so he returned to collect what he needed and visit with some local friends before moving on. While in town, François arranged to stay with his girlfriend’s family at Puteaux (Hauts-de-Seine).

Two days after arriving in the city, he arranged to meet up with some friends on Friday night, December 10, in Ivry-sur-Seine, a suburb south of central Paris. Intending to return home after they finished, François left his phone, identity documents, and all other personal belongings at his girlfriend’s home.

Sometime in the early morning of Saturday, December 11, the group relocated to a party they heard of on Facebook at 13–15 Jean-Jaurès Avenue. Unfortunately, on arriving at the party, they found themselves turned away due to overcrowding.

At around 3:00am (*timing unverified*), the group began hunting for a taxi at the Gambetta roundabout, which proved more difficult than expected. The first taxi refused to take them because they were still carrying alcohol that they had purchased for the party. A second arrived and agreed to accept them; however, things turned for the worst as François refused to get into the second taxi and eventually ran off without his friends.

The reason for this incident is unclear. Some sources suggest François simply was not ready to go home. Others say the taxi driver wanted François to abandon the drink he was holding but he refused. In any case, it appears that his reasoning and behavior was significantly impaired by alcohol and that he was acting out of the ordinary at this point. One friend said later that François did have a tendency to be more open to going along with strangers when under the influence, but that running away was not something he had ever done before.

His friends lost track of him, but it seems likely that François headed northwest along Paul Vaillant Couturier Boulevard. A resident at a private home along the Boulevard later came forward with a potential sighting of François as an unknown man who knocked on their door at around 4:00am that same morning. The witness apparently recognized François from an earlier sighting at the Facebook party where he and his friends were trying to get in.

Click Here for a Google Map of Key Locations

According to the witness, François had apparently been injured on the right side of his head. There was blood on his face and the right arm of his glasses was broken. François was speaking “incoherently” but it is not clear if he was speaking French unclearly or another language altogether (e.g., Lëtzebuergesch). In the first case, it is possible the witness was able to grasp something of note, but, if so, nothing has been made public. In the second case, it is possible the witness did not understand him at all.

François rather quickly disappeared into the night once more without providing any sufficient explanation as to how he ended up in that state. Whether he fell and hurt himself or he was the victim of some assault is not known. Nor was the witness able to say which direction he walked towards after leaving. One also wonders why François knocked in this door out of all of those on the street — what brought him to ask this particular home for aide?

François failed to return to his girlfriend’s home the following day and rather quickly his family filed a missing person’s report with the police.

It seemed clear from the beginning that François’s disappearance was involuntary.

He was not suicidal nor showed signs of depression. He had a good relationship with his girlfriend; he had just graduated from university and was still celebrating that achievement; he had a new job and showed every sign of intending to move on to Berlin to start as soon as he got his diploma. He did not take with him any of his possessions, money, or identity documents.

Whatever happened, it likely either involved foul play or was the result of some tragic accident. Despite more than a decade passing since that early morning, François has not been seen or heard from since.

The Conspiracy

Some online netizens have questioned whether François’ disappearance was related to other similar disappearances that occurred around the same time.

Multiple young men — relatively fit and in their twenties to early thirties — vanished in the early morning hours (often around 4:00am) after an evening out drinking and dancing with friends at local nightclubs/bars and all in the area of a nearby stream. Six of those men disappeared within a span of only 10 days. All listed have since been found, victims of what appear to be accidental drownings. Only François, continues to remain missing.

Although this article observes the individuals mentioned in the online discussions — we want to reiterate that police have stated there is NO CONNECTION between these cases nor is there evidence that any were victims of foul play. The similarities between the victims listed below are purely based on discourse by the general public.

Click for a Map of Key Locations

Rémy Calmejane

Rémy was 18* and a university PE student at the University of Nantes. He spent the night of December 2, 2010 at Calysto, a nightclub along the river in Nantes. He was drinking that night (how heavily is unclear) and started to sleep on a chair inside causing security to send him home. At approximately 4:00am on December 3, Rémy left the club alone and vanished.

Police initially investigated a person of interest involved in an argument with Rémy’s friend at the nightclub. The unidentified male made apparent death threats during the altercation. The man was described as European, 1.85m tall and of average build, wearing a black coat and scruffy faced. It is not clear if police were ever able to locate this individual. He had no known contact with Rémy personally nor was he seen the following night when Grégoire disappeared.

The more prevailing theory was that of drowning. The river was explored using helicopters, sonar technology and divers near the area previously with nothing found, but it is a difficult river to search. Police dogs tracked his scent to a nearby ferry terminal, though it was unclear if this was from coming or going.

Finally, on February 22, 2011, three months after his disappearance, Rémy ‘ remains were found floating in the river Loire near Cheviré bridge. There were no signs of violence, reaffirming the assumption of accidental drowning.

*News articles say he was 19, but his memorial shared by family says 18.

Grégoire Rigault

Grégoire was 24 and a university student at the National Institute of Economic and Accounting Techniques (INTEC), working towards becomming an accountant and excited about the work he was doing to redesign his home. The night after Rémy disappeared, Grégoire went to same nightclub — Calysto — and disappeared in the early hours of the following morning under unknown circumstances.

His mother raised the alarm when she arrived to pick him up for his driver’s license exam and failed to find him. Police were notified of his disappearance on December 8. Police continued combing the area and river for both men, but without much success.

Several months later, on the afternoon of May 2, 2011, Grégoire’s remains were also found in the same area of the Loire river near Cheviré bridge. His identity papers and clothing were still on the body and police again suggested that it was likely the result of an accidental drowning.

They found no evidence connecting him to Rémy beyond the nature of their disappearances and the general consensus remains that they were tragic accidents related to an often dangerous and hard to search river.

Anthony Carteron

Anthony was 21 and a new university student at IUT de Belfort-Montbéliard, a branch of the Université de Franche-Comté. On December 9, Anthony headed to Le Palace, a nightclub in the area of Montbéliard. Between 3:30–4:00am on December 10, he left alone but forgot to collect his jacket with his identity papers and keys. This would be his last sighting and there was no response to his friends’ phone calls when they realized he was missing.

Investigation revealed he did not take the shuttle back to his university, but there were no signs as to what path he did take. Again, police primarily believed Anthony was another accidental drowning and began searching the nearby riverside.

Nonetheless, detectives remained open to the possibility of a connection with Rémy or Grégoire (neither had been found at this point) and cooperated with Nantes police to investigate the situation. The public was becoming more concerned, especially once Websleuths reported three suspicious comments posted online between 11:17pm — 12:10am on December 9, the same night Anthony disappeared but prior to him leaving the club. An anonymous user under the pseudonym ‘Montargis’ wrote on an article about Rémy and Grégoire the three phrases: 3jeune, tony enlever, & demain. The meaning of the first seems to translate to “3 youth.” The second is supposed to mean “Tony Removed” and the third to refer to “tomorrow”. The online discussion revolved around whether these three phrases were meant to point to a third youth named Tony disappearing in the morning of December 10.

According to the media, police were able to identify Montargis and would later attest that he/she was unrelated to the case. They went on to accuse online netizens of generating conspiracies without a basis and at the expense of the victims’ families (Link).

Eventually, Anthony would be the first recovered almost two months later; found in the Doubs river near Lougres on January 30, 2011. The site was not far from the nightclub where he was last seen. Again, there were no signs of violence or foul play.

Jérôme Cano

Jérôme was 26 and an engineer working and living in Calais. On December 12, he was partying at a nightclub along the canal downtown when he too disappeared.

Unlike the others, his body and vehicle were recovered from the canal relatively quickly on December 20. Again, there was no sign of foul play, and the conclusion was accidental drowning.

The main reason netizens voiced suspicions about Jérôme’s disappearance was that a few days after he disappeared, his answering machine message was supposedly altered by an unknown person. Netizens also quickly observed that Calais, Belfort, and Nantes are all relatively equidistant from the actual town of Montargis.

Antoine Brahy

Antoine was 31 and a rising engineer when he disappeared on the morning of January 1, 2011. . . the first of the tragic string of incidences to extend into the next year.

Antoine had spent New Year’s Eve partying and celebrating with friends and was last seen parting company with them sometime between 6:00–7:00am at the door of Villa Rouge, a local nightclub.

Again, initial searches were carried out without any new insight into his path after leaving the club.

Tragically, on February 7, Antoine’s remains were located in the Moselle river near the Metz university campus. He had his clothes and belongings still on him. Two separate autopsies were performed with the overall conclusion that no signs of violence were found and it was a case of death by drowning.

Samy Haikel

Samy was an 18 -year-old fashion design student in London who disappeared from the streets of Strasburg, France. Samy had gone out with friends to a student nightclub the night before and said goodbye to them at a bridge over the Ill River in the city center around 5:00am on January 7, 2011.

With rumors ranging from kidnappings to drug abuse, police faced a difficult investigation that again included suspicion of an accidental drowning. The river was particularly high and murky due to floods and dam openings nearby complicating efforts to drag the river.

Five weeks of searches drug out until his body was finally recovered from the river (exact location unknown) by unsuspecting kayakers.

No signs of violence were found, and cause of death was determined to be drowning.

John Ani

The next three victims all disappeared from the same town (Lille) and will be discussed together though the first (John Ani) was the first of all these victims to disappear chronologically.

On October 6, John (33) spent the evening partying with his friends at an apartment in the Wazemmes district. At some point in the morning of Oct. 7, he left alone and disappeared from there.

Detectives began an in-depth search of the nearby parks and river but to no avail. It would not be until February 11, 2011 (4 months later) that John was found and recovered from the Canal along the Deûle River.

The autopsy found no signs of foul play but did find signs of narcotics and/or alcohol. John appeared to have some injuries (scratches on his face and an injury to his lip) as referenced by his brother, but it was not clear if these came from some type of assault or were from his fall into the river. The final conclusion was an accidental drowning.

Thomas Ducroo

Only a couple of weeks after John’s remains were recovered, Thomas (26 years old and a local motorcycle dealer) vanished on the night of February 5 after spending an evening out at a bar with friends. He was located on February 23 in the same part of the Deûle Canal as John.

With no sign of assault and evidence of narcotics and alcohol being involved, the conclusion was death by drowning.

Jean-Mériadec le Tarnec

Jean-Mériadec was 22 and a local law student in Lille who went out to a party in old Lille with his friends the night of February 19th. At approximately 6:00am the following morning, he parted company with them.

His body was recovered shortly afterward on February 25, also in the Deûle canal. All of his belongings remained on him including his original clothing, cell phone, and debit card(s). The conclusion was death by drowning, likely accidental.

Demographics (Beschreiwung) (Descripción)

Date of Birth: July 10, 1985
Age at Disappearance: 23
Ethnicity: Caucasian
Nationality: United States
Gender at Birth: Female
Hair: Brown with Red Highlights. Shoulder-length and wavy.
Eye Color: Hazel
Height: 5’2″ or 5’3″
Weight: Between 100–135lbs*
Language: English

Gebuertsdatum: 25 Juli 1982
Alter: 28
Ethnie: Kaukasesch
Nationalitéit: Lëtzebuerg
Geschlecht: Männlech
Hoer Faarf: Brog Hoer
Aen Faarf: Brong Aan
Héicht: 175cm (1.75m)
Gewiicht:
Sproochen: Franséisch, Däitsch, Lëtzebuergesch, Englesch

Fecha de Nacimiento: 10 de julio de 1985
Edad: 23
Etnicidad: Caucásica
Nacionalidad: Estados Unidos
Sexo al nacer: Mujer
Cabello: Cabello castaño con reflejos rojos. Cabello ondulado hasta los hombros
Color de los ojos: Ojos color avellana
Altura: 157.5cm
Peso: Entre 45,3- 61,2 kg*
Idiomas: Inglesa

Distinguishing Marks or Factors (Ënnerscheeden Fonctiounen) (Características Distintivas)

May have had a 2–3 day old beard
Had beauty marks / moles / acne across his back
Wears black glasses

Huet vläicht en 2–3 Deeg alen Baart
Hat Schéinheetsmarken iwwer säi Réck

Tal vez el hombre tenía una barba de 2 o 3 días.
Tenía marcas de belleza en la espalda.

Clothing (Kleeder) (Ropa)

Light Blue Jeans
Light Grey or White Hooded Sweatshirt with Black and White Dots and a Zipper
Dark Blue Coat
Black Scarf
Brown Boots (Mid-Height)
Black Horn-Rimmed Glasses

Schwaarz Brëller
Liichtblo Jeans
Liichtfaarweg Pullover (gro oder wäiss) mat schwaarz a wäiss Flecken.
Braun Stiwwelen (Mëtt-Héicht).
Donkelblo Mantel

Vaqueros celestes
Sudadera con capucha gris claro o blanca con lunares blancos y negros y cremallera
Abrigo azul oscuro
Bufanda Negra
Botas Marrones (Altura Media)
Gafas con montura de cuerno negro

If You or Anyone You Know Has Information About The Disappearances, Please Contact:

Luxembourg Police

French Police

Or use the QR Code (aboove) to find contact information for the National Police.

Resources

  • Arellano, G. (2019) ‘Still no sign of François Thillman’, RTL, January 2, Link.
  • RTL (2018) ‘Bianka Bisdorff, François Thillman: the Luxembourg “cold cases”‘, December 27, Link.
  • François THILLMAN disappeared in Ivry-sur-Seine (94), Link.
  • Chapelle Advocat (2020) ‘Interview of Juliette Chapelle in the show called “L’heure du crime” by Jacques Pradel’, February 27, Link.
  • Luxembourg Times (2013) ‘Missing person appeal relaunched after three years, July 26, Link.
  • Luxembourg Times (2015) ‘Luxembourg man missing for five years’, August 30, Link.
  • Luremberger Wort (2013) ‘Qui a vu François Thillman, disparu depuis trois ans?’, July 26, Link.
  • Tout-Luxembourg (2013) ‘Still without news of François Thillman missing for 30 months’, July 30, Link.
  • Rings, E. (2013) ‘Wo ist François Thillman?’, 26 July, Link.
  • Solano, P. (2020) ‘L’insoluble mystère des personnes enterrées sous X’, L’Express, February 17, Link.
  • Le Républicain Lorrain (2010), ‘François Thillman a disparu’, December 19, Link.
  • Chevillard, T. and Mazier, N. (2010) ‘La vérité sur le mystère des étudiants disparus’, France Soir, December 22, Link.
  • Frouin, G. (2011) ‘Rémy Calmejane aurait été victime d’une simple noyade’, 20 Minutes Fr., February 22, Link.
  • Dubray, F. (2011) ‘Nantes: Le corps de Rémy Calmejane retrouvé dans la Loire’, Paris Match, February 21, Link.
  • Caeyseele, J. (2011) ‘Où en est l’enquête sur les disparus de Nantes’, Le Express, February 21, Link.
  • Le Telegreme (2010) ‘Double disparition à Nantes. Les parents évoquent des jeunes hommes équilibrés’, December 10, Link.
  • Fréour, P. (2010) ‘Double disparition inquiétante à Nantes’, Le Figaro, December 12, Link.
  • Brenon, F (2011) ‘Grégoire Rigault aurait été retrouvé dans la Loire’, 20 Minutes Fr, May 3, Link.
  • Le Parisien (2010) ‘Enquête sur quatre disparitions d’étudiants’, December 18, Link.
  • Le Parisien (2010) ‘La piste de la noyade accidentelle d’Anthony privilégiée’, December 21, Link.
  • Ma Commune (2010) ‘Disparition d’un étudiant à Belfort’, December 14, Link.
  • L’Est Républicain (2011) ‘Cadavre du Doubs: des expertises ADN demandées’, February 1, Link.
  • Le Point (2010) ‘Disparus de Nantes: diffusion d’un portrait-robot pour identifier un témoin’, December 30, Link.
  • L’Est Républicain (2011) De tragiques noyades en série, March 6, Link.
  • Corinne A. (2011) Avis de recherche: Antoine Brahy, Tout Metz, January 3, Link.
  • Le Parisien (2011) ”L’étudiant indien de Polytechnique retrouvé noyé’, December 9, Link.
  • Faits Diverse (2010) ‘La vérité sur le mystère des étudiants disparus’, December 22, Link.
  • Desnos, M (2011) ‘Metz: A young man disappears in the New Year’, Paris Match, January 3, Link.
  • L’Alsace (2011) ‘Strasbourg : l’étudiant disparu Samy Haikel retrouvé mort dans l’Ill’, February 12, Link.
  • Faits Diverse (2011) ‘Le corps de Samy Haikel retrouvé’, Februrary 13, Link
  • Le Parisien (2011) ‘Samy Haikel, l’étudiant disparu à Strasbourg le 7 janvier retrouvé mort’, February 12, Link.
  • Le Figaro (2011) ‘Trois disparitions d’hommes mobilisent la police à Lille’, February 22, Link.
  • Le Figaro (2011) ‘Lille : la thèse de l’accident se confirme pour le 3e disparu’, February 26, Link.

DISCLAIMER:

The information offered through our Services is general information only. We make every effort to maintain the database and ensure the data is up-to-date and correct. However, we make no warranties or promises regarding the accuracy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of the data herein. Data is gathered primarily from NGOs, new articles, and Charity postings. This information is not intended for reliance. Under no circumstances will The Suitcase Detective or its owners & operators be liable for any problems that may result from using or reading this information. Continued use of our Services serves as evidence that you approve our Privacy Policies and Terms & Conditions.

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Originally published at https://thesuitcasedetective.com on June 11, 2022.

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“Never Quit Looking” is a global database of missing persons, unsolved homicides, and unidentified remains. This publication promotes international awareness of cases that may have a global connection through witnesses, evidence, criminals, and victims shifting abroad.

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