Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Risqué Management: The Murder of Edouard Stern


Colleagues became concerned when Edouard Stern, one of France's richest men, did not show up for a business appointment March 1, 2005. The next day, fearing that he might have suffered a heart attack when he still did not answer his phone, they contacted his cleaning service and gained entry to his apartment. Inside, they found Edouard's hooded body on the floor of his bedroom, clad in a latex bodysuit and harness and lying in a mess of drying blood. The autopsy report would later reveal that Edouard had been shot four times in the head and body at point-blank range.

Lake Geneva
Lake Geneva

Edouard's ultra-luxe apartment complex was located in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in Geneva. Immaculately clean, Geneva is a city in which cars seen speeding or scofflaws discarding a half-eaten apple on the sidewalk can spur vigilant citizens to call the police who respond to such leads and assiduously seek the culprits.

With nearby snow-capped mountains and Lake Geneva--Lake Léman in the French spoken in that part of Switzerland--dotted with luxury yachts, Geneva is one of Europe's most pristine major cities, a city where vast fortunes can be discreetly handled by the many banks whose account holders' privacy and identities are jealously guarded. Bank officials there and throughout Switzerland pride themselves on the prudent delicacy they offer their clients from around the world.

Geneva is a remarkably safe city compared to major metropolitan areas in the rest of the world, a place where millionaires can freely walk the streets or drive around in a Rolls-Royce or a Bentley--Edouard himself had owned one at the time of his death--at any hour of the day or night with little worry about violent crime. But even in this seemingly secure environment, Edouard had not felt safe. He had fortified his luxury apartment with extra security alarms and video cameras both around and inside the building he owned, at 17 Rue Adrien-Lachenal. Stern lived on the fifth floor, surrounded above and below by other wealthy tenants. On the ground floor, there was a Geneva police station.

Stern had also secured a concealed firearms permit and owned several handguns prior to his death. Getting a handgun permit in Europe is difficult, but Stern, the scion of an eminent French banking family linked by blood and breeding to the business and political leaders of France, had connections in high places. Edouard also had had reason to apply for a gun permit: he had received several death threats in the months and weeks preceding his murders.


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