France

European warrant launched for murdered family's father

Reuters/Stéphane Mahé

French prosecutors have launched a European warrant for Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès, whose wife and four children were found dead at their home in the western town of Nantes on Thursday. A woman in the Paris, who says she was his mistress, claims to have received threats by letter and SMS, while another woman connected to the family has gone missing.

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Dupont de Ligonnès, who is reported to have been sighted at Nice near the Italian border, is now being sought throughout the area covered by the Schengen agreement. He is wanted as a witness, although French media have quoted evidence that he planned the killings by training at a shooting gallery and sending messages that the family would be moving out of the area.

The autopsy has shown that the victims were killed in their sleep around 3-4 April, before being buried beneath the patio of their home.

An appeal for information has prompted hundreds of responses, not all credible, every day. But police are taking seriously claims of threats by a woman living in the Paris region, who says that she was Dupont de Ligonnès’s “mistress” and that he owed her 50,000 euros.

She has moved out of her home after receiving a letter telling her, “We had some good times together, now you are going to become acquainted with sorrow.” It appears to have been sent on or near the day of the murder.

Although the father of the family declared an income of just 4,000 euros for 2010, the family owned four cars and paid rent of 1,300 euros a month. Investigators believe he may have set up a phoney company in order to borrow money from banks and individuals.

A raid on Saturday on the home of Dupont de Ligonnès’s aunt in the Var region, where he is known to have been on 15 April, revealed no clues.

But the inquiry is looking into the “worrying disappearance” of 50-year-old Colette Deromme on 14 April. Deromme lived in the Var village of Lorgues, where the family stayed before 2003.

The priest at the church which the victims attended called on the congregation to pray for them at Easter Sunday mass. The youngest boy, Benoît, was a choirboy there.

The funerals are to take place on Thursday.

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