When this case first started in 2008 Burkina Faso was led by a military dictator turned civilian president named Blaise Compaoré, Although the country was still poor and terrorism always a likelihood in the small African nation they did have some degree of political peace despite Blaise’s dictatorial reign.
In 2014: Case
In 2014 after a series of demonstrations and uprisings Blaise would be eliminated from power in 2020 which plunged the country into political fluctuation during the aftermath. In April 2021 Blaise was also indicted by a military court for the killing of the country’s former president Thomas Sankara and for decreeing the death of a journalist but any trial will be performed in absentia due to Blaise being residence in exile in Côte d’Ivoire.
This case takes place in The Boulmiougou District of Burkina Faso’s capital city Ouagadougou, Boulmiougou is also referred to as Sector 17. Boulmiougou is located on the western edge of the city and is semi-rural and densely inhabited with the district most well known for its reservoir. Most of Boulmiougou’s citizens work in markets, gardening, growing vegetables, and salad greens on small plots.
This case sadly lacks a timeline or detailed list of victims which means the situations of the crime and names of some of the victims are unable to be located online. What is available nonetheless is that this case begins in December 2008 with the first killing but details about this killing are sadly unknown.
The MO for the crime is known nonetheless as the murderer would target night watchmen, guards, or people sleeping in their houses and would murder them with the weapon not being the same every case with the killing weapons varying from crowbars, cutters, pickaxes, axes, wood, iron bars or stones found off the ground but the ax and stones would be the most famous murder weapon used by the perpetrator or perpetrators.
To taunt and confuse police/investigators, the murderer would also discard the killing weapons leaving them at the spectacle for the police to discover. This is how the murderer was nicknamed “L’homme à la Hache” as an ax was the most common item discovered at the several murder scenes.
Although most victims sadly don’t have their names or the conditions of their crime known and available online that isn’t the case for all of them as ascertained by the following.
On August 5, 2009, a driver from Côte d’Ivoire named Adama Bandé was murdered by a man with an ax that was stolen from a concession. The murderer broke down the door to his house before slaughtering him with the ax in cold blood. Nothing was stolen from his body or his house although some of his possessions such as his driver’s license were discovered in his backyard. He was the 6th victim.
On October 2, 2010, Marcelline Kabré a 17-year-old girl was discovered dead in her bedroom. Her skull was smashed with a huge stone, she was raped (according to some sources) and her room was looted. Tragically she was sleeping next to her 6-year-old niece Delphine who was not woken up by the murderer.
On November 13, 2010, a man named Mahamadi Nikièma was returning home after praying at the regional mosque when we were attacked. He received three machete wounds to his arm and during the battle he received a blow to his skull and had his ribs broken but his screams alerted his neighbors resulting in the attacker fleeing. The residents then hurried him to the hospital where thankfully he managed to recover becoming a survivor of “L’homme à la Hache”.
On January 4 or 5, 2011 A night watchman was discovered dead next to a mosque in a pool of his blood and like the prior victims, an ax was discovered next to his corpse and nothing seemed to have been stolen. The last victim count is guessed to be 15 but the number of survivors who were barely injured by the murderer’s assaults is unknown.
Understandably these crimes established an alarm in the district with numerous citizens rejecting to go outside at night and only accepting news interviews if kept anonymous. Many of the citizens fear that these were ritual killings carried out by a single individual a hired murderer looking to harvest and take out the organs of his victims to obtain wealth.
The official theory from the police nonetheless dismisses this explanation as none of the corpses had any organs removed. Rather they think that the intention behind these killings was motivated by fetishism the African belief that specific special and significant objects hold some degree of supernatural strength. The police also inferred that a gang of individuals was involved. They also thought that the gang were under the impact of narcotics precisely cocaine while committing the murders
Some killings were falsely associated with this murderer such as on September 3, 2009, when a woman was discovered lying dead in a pool of her blood nonetheless the police soon arrested a 35-year-old woman and a friend of the victim for the crime labeling it as irrelevant to the ongoing serial killing case.
Many felt as if the police were not prioritizing the case because Boulmiougou/Sector 17 was a working-class neighborhood with a student in the region saying “We have never listened to that such crimes are perpetrated in Ouaga 2000 or the 1,200 housing units.
I assure you that if it was in a residential region, the killer would have been under arrested a long time ago” and the dad of Adama Bandé stated that the police and courts would never react to his constant request for updates on the murder, He passed away on July 3, 2011. Other residents nonetheless contend that the police are doing their best but that their best just isn’t enough due to Burkina Faso not having the same resources to catch serial killers as the United States and Europe.
The main detective for this case Boukary Drabo nonetheless thinks otherwise asserting that they have performed substantial patrols of Boulmiougou and that numerous criminals in the region were taken off the streets and that this matter was being taken seriously.
In reaction to the October 2010 murder of Marcelline Kabré, the inhabitants formed “self-defense” squads where the residents would patrol the streets and all blow a whistle if an assault occurred and any nearby inhabitants would rush to the scene to subdue the murderer.
Constable Boukary Drabo nonetheless was against this idea because the technicians lacked any technical proficiency on how to investigate and actually catch the murderer and also stated that “ill-intentioned people” could take benefit of this system to settle personal scores by accusing someone else of being the murderer. Other residents took other precautions such as a curfew restricting them from heading outside when it’s late, Changing the locks on their doors, and changing the doors themselves to be made of metal.
The police did arrest mutable suspects as well comprising the dismantling of two gangs who committed numerous murders against security guards using the same M.O and on January 6, 2011 police dismantled a gang called Saïdou dit Saïd led by a 26-year-old man with the leader being a believer in fetishism, owning axes and would consume cocaine before his crimes with him being caught for breaking into a house and trying to rob valuables from it.
Many of the residents nonetheless didn’t believe them to be the murderers and even the police rejected to identify them as “L’homme à la Hache” and rather just asserted that they had an identical M.O with this case still being deemed unsolved as of August 2011. The reason why the inhabitants don’t believe either of these gangs or individuals to be the murderer is they are confident that one of their own is the killer and that he was attending the meetings they had to discuss the issue.
The murderer seemed to have known this region well such as when he murdered the last victim in early January 2011. Very few people realize the existence of this security guard even amongst the inhabitants so when he was killed that is why the residents became obvious that the murderer must have resided in the region. Particularly with how he managed to get to the last casualty which required going by a wall which many thought would be unthinkable unless they already knew where to go with one inhabitant saying “Either the murderer used magic or he went through the wall of the neighboring house. Again, he would have had to master the geography of the neighborhood. He would have had to recognize his victim, plan and execute his move,”
After January 2011 nonetheless, the killings halted and no one ever went to trial for the 15 killings leaving this case unsolved and giving the residents without closure.