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 that the third victim - a local sociology student missing for several weeks - was killed before the stabbing of a 36-year-old woman on a night train from Calais to the Riviera in the early hours of 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 a night train near Chateauroux.
Razala is now known to have boarded the Calais train near Amiens on Monday night. The new discovery casts a harshlight on the ponderous reaction of police and judicial investigators in the first 48 hours after the second train murder.
Corinne Caillaux was brutally stabbed to death in the toilets of the Calais train near Dijon on Tuesday morning. Razala spent part of the next two days at his parents' home in Marseilles. Although he was identified as the prime suspect within a few hours of thestabbing, local police could not enter the house because they had received no search and arrest warrant from Dijon - apparently because of wrangles between different judicial and police authorities.
By the time the warrant was issued by an investigating magistrate in Dijon on Thursday morning, Rezala had slipped away unseen. One acquaintance told the newspaper Liberation that he had been seen in Marseilles since Tuesday with his hair died red.
Police from Dijon went to Amiens yesterday because it was the last known address of a young woman who had visited Rezala in prison earlier this year and had directed police to the building where the other woman's body was found.
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. A ticket inspector recalled that he was wearing a back to front baseball hat. A similar hat was found, soaked in blood, close to the victim's body.
Rezala is known to have been in Limoges in the hours before Isabel Peake caught a night train to Paris in the early hours of 13 October. His description broadly fits that of a young man seen talking to the 20-year-old British girl as she boarded the train.Reuse content