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Clue in hunt for French dad after family killed

22 april 2011, 15:55
Photo courtesy of newtech.aurum3.com
Photo courtesy of newtech.aurum3.com
French police hunting a father after the bodies of his wife and four children were found in his home have been alerted that his bank card was used last week, AFP reports citing investigators.

The transaction took place in Roquebrune-sur-Argens outside Frejus on the Mediterranean Riviera, pointing to the fugitive possibly being in southern France after the macabre find in the northwestern town of Nantes.

On Thursday, police in Nantes found five bodies in the family's townhouse, around three weeks after the family told their children's school that they were emigrating to Australia and disappeared from view.

The Nantes prosecutor said that shortly before the disappearance the father, 50-year-old small businessman Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes, made bizarre claims to friends to be a secret agent heading into a witness protection programme.

Autopsies will confirm the identities of the victims and the cause of their death -- believed to be gunshot wounds -- but police are proceeding on the assumption the five are the suspect's 49-year-old wife and four children.

Neighbours described them as an ordinary middle class family with no history of crime or odd behaviour. Agnes worked as a teaching assistant and volunteered in her local Catholic church.

The older sons, 21-year-old Thomas and 18-year-old Arthur, were students, while 16-year-old daughter Anne and 13-year-old Benoit attended a fee-paying private Catholic school, la Perverie Sacre Coeur.

The school headmaster said he had recently received a letter withdrawing the children from the school, settling their fees until the end of the academic year and explaining that the family was moving to Australia.

Police said there was no sign of a struggle in the house, and the family appeared to have prepared a departure. Their clothing was packed and missing, along with three of the family's cars.

The lease on the house expired 10 days ago.

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