The hunt for Sid Ahmed Rezala, 20, is "as of today, a search for a serial killer", a gendarmerie official said last night.
It is believed the third victim - possibly a young woman who had been sheltering Mr Rezala - was killed before his attack on a 36-year-old woman on a night train from Calais to the Riviera early on Tuesday. The body of the new victim was found buried under a heap of coal in the basement of a dilapidated building in Amiens. She had not been seen since 29 October - two weeks after Ms Peake, 20, was thrown from atrain near Chateauroux.
Mr Rezala is believed to have boarded the Calais train near Amiens on Monday night.
Even if the latest murder occurred earlier, it casts a harsh new light on the ponderous reaction of police and judicial investigators in the first 48 hours after the second train murder.
Corinne Caillaux wasstabbed to death in the toilet of the Calais train near Dijon. Mr Rezala was identified as the prime suspect within hours. It emerged yesterday that he spent part of the next two days at his parents' home in Marseilles. Police were watching the house but could not enter it because they had no search and arrest warrant, apparently because of bureaucratic wrangling between different judicial and police authorities.
By the time the warrant was issued by an investigating magistrate in Dijon on Thursday morning, Mr Rezala had slipped away. One acquaintance told the newspaper Liberation that he had been seen in Marseilles since Tuesday with his hair dyed red.
Police went to the house in Amiens because it was the last known address of a woman who had visited Mr Rezala in prison earlier this year.
Mr Rezala, who has a record of violence and sexual assault on boys, was caught without a ticket on the Calais-to-Vintimiglia night express, two hours before the dying woman was found in a toilet. He had shown his identity card to a ticket inspector, who recalled that he was wearing a back-to- front baseball cap. A baseball cap was found, soaked in blood, close to the victim's body.
Mr Rezala is known to have been in Limoges in the hours before Ms Peake caught a night train to Paris on 13 October. He was ejected from a Paris train in Limoges station on 12 October. His description broadly fits that of a man seen talking Ms Peake as she boarded the train.Reuse content