Crime Files Network

Hunt for French dad

over family deaths

April 22, 2011
The missing family.
Police have found five bodies believed to be the family of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes.


French police are looking for a man after a search for his family yielded a severed leg, then five buried bodies – believed to be those of his wife and their four children.

A source close to the investigation said an “active search” had been launched for Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes, 50, after the macabre find at the family’s home in the western town of Nantes.

Mr De Ligonnes, a business manager, his school assistant wife Agnes, 49, and their children – sons Thomas, 21, Arthur, 18, and Benoit, 13, and daughter, Anne, 16 – disappeared from their home in the western town of Nantes this month.

French police at the site where three bodies were found.
French police at the site where the bodies were found. Photo: AFP


He had earlier told acquaintances he was a secret agent and was leaving to join a witness protection scheme.

Police probing the disappearance found a section of human leg in the garden of the grey stone two-story house on Thursday morning, then gradually unearthed five bodies throughout the day, Nantes prosecutor Xavier Ronsin told journalists in the city.

Three bodies, those of Agnes, Thomas and Arthur were exhumed first from under a patio of the house, said the prosecutor, adding they died “in all likelihood by firearm”.

Later in the day, a statement said “a fourth body – that of Anne – was exhumed with those of the family’s two dogs”.

In a later update, the prosecutor’s office said a fifth body – that of Benoit – had been dug up.

“So the investigation of a worrying disappearance has become one for kidnap and murder,” said Mr Ronsin, adding there was no sign of violence in the house itself.

The prosecutor described the father’s tales of espionage as “self-contradictory ravings”, adding the family had settled their children’s private school fees, claiming they were planning to emigrate to Australia.

Investigators said, however, they could find no records suggesting the family had made any major bank transactions or passed through a port or airport.

Police had sealed off the house and were conducting a painstaking forensic examination behind a screen of black plastic sheeting on Thursday.

After the remains of Benoit were found, a statement said the grave “does not contain any other bodies”, adding that investigators would provisionally withdraw from the crime scene on Thursday night.

Autopsies on the five bodies would be conducted at Nantes’ institute of forensic medicine on Friday, authorities said.


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