“This man deserves nothing less than the death penalty,” a loved one of popular Greek waitress Thalia Stasis said of Hugues Francois of Cliffside Park. But that isn’t going to happen: Jurors in Hackensack convicted him this morning of aggravated manslaughter while acquitting him of murder. Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Wayne Mello vowed to fight for an extended sentence that would keep Francois — who has already served time for killing someone and for sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl — behind bars for life.
Jurors also convicted Francois of disturbing human remains by dumping his live-in girlfriend’s lifeless body on a New York highway, said Cliffside Park Police Chief Donald Keane, one of several officers who attended the trial.
Investigators from the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office found enough evidence to charge Francois after Stathis, 28, vanished after a late shift in September 2007. It was a bold move, based purely on circumstantial proof, incuding blood stains found in his car trunk.
Nine months later, her remains were found just off the Southern State Parkway in Queens.
Friends said Francois convinced Stathis to move in with him, despite her parents’ pleas to steer clear of a convicted killer and rapist. “She always saw the good in people, even though, in this case, it never existed,” said a close friend, Anastasia. “She believed she could change people. Right before she went missing, she went home to her parents where she was welcomed with open arms,” she wrote. “He once again convinced her to leave her parents’ home & go back with him. We all know what happened next.”