Police in western France have found the bodies of a mother and her four children buried under the terrace of their house in Nantes. They had been missing since the beginning of April.
The family’s two pet dogs were buried alongside.
A major police hunt is on for the father, 50 year old Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes. He had told friends that he was a secret-agent and had to leave the country.
They were also told that his wife, 49 year old Agnes, and their four children aged 13 to 21 were emigrating.
Agnes Dupont gave Catholic religious instruction in school. Neighbours said they were a respectable family. A sign for the postman said: ‘Return to sender.’
Olivier Bouissou, the headmaster at the school of the two youngest children said: ‘About 10 days ago I got a letter from the father saying he was going to work in Australia, and so the children wouldn’t be coming to school anymore.’
A friend of the 16 year old daughter said: ‘Their closest friends received a letter from the parents saying that we have to forget her and we should never try to call her again.’
The father was last spotted a week ago at a budget hotel in the south of France.
Investigators say little is clear about the case, and they are keeping an open mind.