55 boulevard Robert-Schuman submitted by
A disturbing disappearance
Nantes, boulevard Schuman, Wednesday April 13, 2011, eight days earlier. The shutters on 55 have been closed for several days. To the right of the front door, in an empty space framed by two hooks that supported a mailbox, a piece of white paper is fixed to the wall with an orange-colored tape. A typed message: “Return all mail to senders. Thank you.” Local residents have already noted these two abnormalities. Accustomed to walking past a house with shutters always open, this message intended for the postman seems very strange to them.
Located north of Nantes, this bourgeois house is adjoined with numbers 57 on its right and 53 on its left by three of its sides: facade, walls, and garden. It is in the heart of the residential district of Breil-Barberie, a rather lively area with many passing people day and night. Along Boulevard Schuman, imposing gates conceal beautiful wooded properties. In this spring of 2011, many small local shops are open – a hair salon, a sewing store, a bar where locals bet on horse races - there is a certain sweetness of life here.
At night, the scene changes under the very windows of 55: prostitutes, essentially of African origin, roam the sidewalks, looking for customers. Sometimes, this nocturnal “animation” degenerates into uproar.
On the neighboring Boulevard des Américains, Agnès Dupont de Ligonnès’ car, a Golf convertible, attracts the attention of a neighbor. The vehicle has not moved for several days, which is unusual. She testified to French radio station, RTL: “The house was closed and there was this inscription on the mailbox, ‘return to senders,’ which had intrigued me. [...] I always hoped that this house would reopen, but that didn’t happen. On Wednesday [the 13th], the postman came by, and I said to him, ‘It’s not worth putting mail at the neighbors at 55. The mailbox is closed.’ He said to me, ‘Really? I’m not surprised. They haven’t paid the recommandés
(a special tax which guarantees mail delivery) for a while.’ It bothered me. I had a really bad feeling deep inside... I didn’t know why, but it made me anxious. I called the police.”
Agnès de Ligonnès abandoned car
This April 13, surprising information circulates in the neighborhood and fuels conversations. Persistent rumors come back from La Perverie-Sacré-Coeur, Anne and Benoît Dupont de Ligonnès’ school located on rue de la Perverie, a little east of boulevard Schuman. Since April 4, no one at the middle school or high school had seen them. Teachers and classmates are worried about them. One of them, who had loaned his iPod to Benoît, tried to reach him by phone in order to get it back, but there was no answer. Other friends passed in front of 55 only to find the door is closed.
As for the Blanche-de-Castille Catholic school complex where Agnès works, the news is hardly more reassuring: the family has apparently left in a hurry... for Australia.
A letter of departure for the United States
Four days earlier, Saturday, April 9, a member of Agnès’ family called the police to alert them to the receipt of a very peculiar and rather alarming letter.
Suffice to say the interlocutor is not taken seriously by the police station.
This person, however trustworthy, reiterates his concern the following Monday, April 11 with the Nantes magistrates. The reaction in the prosecutor’s office at TGI (Tribunal de Grande Instance) of Nantes is extremely cautious. The family member is told that the Dupont de Ligonnès couple is of age, so there is no reason to worry so much.
The content of this letter, authored by Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès, is far from commonplace:
Nantes, April 8. Hi everyone! Mega surprise: we left for the USA in an emergency, under very special conditions. It will no longer be possible for us to communicate with you otherwise (no emails, SMS, or telephone) for a few years due to security reasons.
He said he was an American spy recruited by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and infiltrated the world of French nightclubs to recover information on drug trafficking and money laundering. And continues:
With the information I have collected for seven years, I have become an essential witness in a future trial involving senior officials in the international drug trade.
According to him, this risky mission had become complicated:
For some time, there were indications that I had been spotted... The situation therefore became dangerous for us here and necessitated taking emergency measures.
He then details “the federal witness protection program, from which he and his family benefit since they are already on American soil, transferred under a new identity, which must obviously remain secret,” and insists:
The official version is that we were transferred to Australia for professional reasons without further details. It would be good to circulate this false information on Facebook and other networks. [...] They tell us that it will be possible, in a certain time, to send you information by mail: we have chosen Emmanuel [Xavier’s best friend, Ed.] as the centralizer because he has the advantage of knowing just about everyone. He will receive the letters to communicate to you. He will receive instructions in due course.
“The house key is hidden outside in the EDF counter, which opens with anything (car key, screwdriver, knife),” adds Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès, alias XDDL, to allow his relatives to carry out the tasks he entrusts to them. The father of the family indeed gives instructions to everyone: sell certain furniture and cars, organize the inventory of fixtures before May 31… These are all elements that are not carefully examined by the investigators at that time.
The main message, though it is extraordinarily bizarre, is pretty clear: the father of the family says he is a spy in danger. Thanks to the American government, he was able to shelter his family in the United States. The letter ends thus:
We will have so much to tell you later! The hard part will be getting used to our new names!
The \"Letter to Nine\" sent by XDDL
By Wednesday, April 13, the police are already aware of this letter. They met with the director of La Perverie in the morning, who informed them of the letter they received that announced a departure after an emergency transfer to Australia - the “official version therefore.”
The manager of the Pizza Tempo pizzeria, a few meters from the family home, indicates that he too received a handwritten letter dated April 4, signed by Arthur, the eldest son and a casual employee in his business. In his letter, the young man says he can no longer “continue to perform his duties.” He “submits his resignation and renounces all compensation and any salary… following the transfer of his father to Australia.” This must be the reason why Arthur did not come to collect his pay as he usually did every month.
The announcement of this sudden departure on the other side of the world leaves the manager perplexed. This feeling is widely shared by the professional and personal entourage of the family.
This accumulation of testimony prompted investigators to search the unoccupied house at 55 boulevard Schuman for the first time. The visit takes place that day at 2:45 p.m. Brigadier-in-Chief, Michel M., notes that the shutters are closed. He calls on the fire brigade to enter the house. The residence is well ventilated. The electricity is still working. The accommodation is still furnished. Upstairs, the presence of suitcases suggests a hasty departure. Nothing else to report.
A second police visit is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Friday, April 15, 2011. Brigadier-in-Chief Michel B. arrives at the entrance to 55. He contacts one of the neighbors, Dr. Alain P., and asks to pass through his adjoining garden in order to reach that of the Dupont de Ligonnès by means of a ladder. From the back of the house, the policeman walks on the yard, crosses it, access the terrace, and then enters the kitchen.
On a buffet, they find medical equipment, car keys, and registration cards. The latter correspond to those of a Citroën Xantia and a Golf. The policeman also comes across a hand-scribbled note:
Sorry, we didn’t have time to bring the bags of shoes to the Red Cross. It’s not far. Just put them next to the garment containers. See attached map.
The state of the home seemed to support the story of a speedy departure.
There is also a Finaref bank document and underneath a key a post-it that reads: “Keys to the cellar.” The investigator seizes the key and goes down to visit this place under the terrace. During this second visit, like the previous one, nothing seemed abnormal.
The investigation continues, and it will see a clear evolution in the following hours. Around 5 p.m., the Nantes public prosecutor’s office asked the police to investigate the Family Allowance Fund and wished to know the geolocation of the Dupont de Ligonnès couple’s mobile phones. Also, the two names of Xavier and Agnès Dupont de Ligonnès are entered in the National Register of wanted persons.
At the same time, a Nantes police officer takes his phone and calls the two cellphones belonging to Agnès and Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès. Each time, the investigator finds the calls go straight to voicemail without ringing. On the two lines, the policeman leaves a message with his name, his rank, his contact details, as well as the reason for his call, requesting to be contacted as soon as possible.
Shortly before 6 p.m., the investigators are once again informed of the “American track” by a couple of Nantes friends, Raymond and Nathalie K., who are also recipients of the “confidential” letter written by Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès. Mrs. K. takes the initiative to call the police. She understands that her friends have gone abroad and wants to reassure the police... who do not need any additional information, they already know the exact content of this letter.
On Saturday, April 16, 2011, at 10:30 a.m., Nathalie K. was nevertheless summoned and heard by the police. She explains, this time orally, that she received this letter on April 9. Then she revealed being a friend of the Dupont de Ligonnès family. She has not seen Agnès since March 29. A detail: her son Philippe, also a friend of Thomas Dupont de Ligonnès, chatted last Sunday (April 10) on the porch of 55 with a friend of XDDL named Emmanuel. She describes the man as also upset by the sudden departure of the whole family from abroad.
At the end of this interview, the police proceed in sequence: they first meet one of Xavier’s sisters, Christine Dupont de Ligonnès, as well as his mother, Geneviève, who share an apartment in Versailles. They ask for confirmation that this letter has been received. After a period of so-called “emotional” wait time, they respond in the affirmative. This letter is also accompanied by a personalized note signed by Xavier.
The police then call the other sister of XDDL: Véronique. She is in the Republic of Congo, where she lives part of the year. She does not believe in the contents of this mailing at all, but she does not show concern.
Among the other recipients of the letter is a key person, whom the investigators summon to their office: Emmanuel T., appointed by Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès himself as the “centralizer.”
The interview is directed by Anne-Sophie R., the same policewoman who will be the impetus for the discovery of the bodies on April 21. The testimony of the missing father’s best friend is rich in new information. He explains that he discovered this famous mail in the mailbox of his Nantes home, placed in an unstamped envelope, on Saturday, April 9 around noon. “Yes, I believed this letter… or more precisely, in hindsight, wanted to believe it,” admits Emmanuel.
This missive is also accompanied by two small personalized notes signed Xavier. On the first, we read affectionate words... and precise instructions:
My old friend, we are going to spend time (for the first time in 37 years) a few years without seeing each other or calling or writing back and forth: it’s going to be weird! Will have to get used to it! I’ll let you take care of a small “administrative” part, once Cédric has done the “manual” part. Everyone has their own domain! LOL. There may be no deposit to recover because the rent for April will surely not be taken. We have withdrawn the max on Agnès’ account before leaving. As for the files in progress (debts that you know about, no more worries. Everything will fall into the water…) LOL Stay there until I come back. I need you. I was not in Savoy this week, but in Paris with the Americans. I came home at night, and we only had one day to pack up and start emptying the house! Hot! Warn Ben that we will not come to make the baptism of shooting planned on the 9. I kiss you very hard. Xav.
Then a second note:
Emmanuel, here are the different files. […] Thank you for taking care of all of this [the termination of various subscriptions and the return of medical equipment used by Agnès for sleep apnea, Ed]. When Cédric and his friends have emptied the house, could you find a cleaning lady? I have left 50 euros in an envelope to pay for it. It is not a matter of cleaning thoroughly but of vacuuming each room.
Emmanuel T. goes immediately to 55 on Saturday, April 9, and notes that the sets of keys to the house are not yet deposited in the hiding place indicated by Xavier in his letter. In the utility meter box, a new handwritten note mentions that the keys will be placed there overnight.
On Sunday, April 10 at 5 p.m., Emmanuel T. returns to the scene. The keys to the house are there. They are accompanied by another note, this time type-written: “Some keys do not work well. You have to wiggle them to open the door. Always leave a set of keys in the hiding place so that others can enter.” He meets Nathalie K.’s son, Philippe, in front of the house, and they chat for a few seconds.
Emmanuel then explains to the police: “I entered the house, but I was afraid of a family drama. His DEA story seemed unimaginable to me. I inspected the house. I didn’t see any damage.” Then he adds: “I returned on Monday, April 11 with Cédric M. I had just got the note that Xavier sent me, asking me to get a housekeeper and ensure the inventory of fixtures. […] I had a house key. I had other keys to my home that I did not want to leave in the EDF meter.”
Sunday, April 17, 2011. Investigators spread their investigations in all directions. Thus, a decision was made to contact the Urssaf (the French distribution system for Social Security benefits); the medical community was also contacted on this day to find out if members of the family could have been the subject of any psychiatric consultations. In another arm of the investigation, two requisitions are ordered from a telephone company to list all the terminals activated by the mobile phones of Xavier and Agnès Dupont de Ligonnès since April 1.
Monday, April 18. The news of the family’s disappearance begins to spread in the city of Nantes, even if the news of the day is more marked by a completely different matter: the arrests of a sect of Saint-Brévin guru and his partner, indicted for rape and sexual assault during a meeting with two of their disciples.
Local journalists are starting to take a closer look at the Dupont de Ligonnès family. They are conducting the very first neighborhood interviews. Meanwhile, the police have been investigating all of the family’s financial movements since April 3, questioning each of the banking establishments where the accounts are open.
A gun in inheritance
At noon, Mathieu Fohlen, deputy public prosecutor, orders the Nantes judicial police to carry out a new visit to 55. They are charged with retrieving photographs of the family members and, above all, a gun! Investigators know now that Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès has a weapon. It is a Unique brand 22 semi-automatic long rifle, which he inherited from his father, who died less than three months previously on January 20, 2011.
This third search lasts an hour and a quarter, between 4:30 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. very precisely. It takes place with the same neighbor doctor as a witness. But, this time, the investigators do not need to call the firemen to enter the house: Emmanuel T., Xavier’s friend, gave them a set of keys.
Two policewomen, Nathalie P. and Anne-Sophie R., carry out meticulous inspection work. Each detail could be crucial. Everything is documented and video-recorded with precision: garbage bags full of shoes, an empty fridge, the presence of a few jars of jam, a tidy dishwasher… On the kitchen floor, they note the presence of a still damp mop and a bottle of cleansing agent placed on the table next to the cellar key. They notice that a map of France is taped to a wall. Cities are circled with felt-tip pen: La Rochelle, Nice, Tarbes, Pau, Auxerre, Aix, Perpignan.
A bottle of Ajax, three-quarters full, is noted on the kitchen counter.
In the living room, an intact chess set sits on a trunk acting as a table. On the sofas, three guitars are stored in their cases. Empty photo frames are scattered on the ground.
The two women go up to the second floor. In the master bedroom, two single beds devoid of sheets are pushed together. A collection of music occupies a large part of the room. In the other bedrooms, the mattresses are also bare - no more sheets or quilts. They notice the presence of a brownish spot on the mattress of one of the children’s beds.
The inspectors backtrack and return to a detail already noted in the kitchen. They state: “The mop is wet with cleanser.” A mop that is still damp is noted in the kitchen during the third search of the house
They then head out onto the terrace and descend into the yard. “The ground is dirt. Let’s go back to the terrace where we have to bend in half to access the cellar where boxes are stored.” These twenty boxes are filled with bundles of “Crystal” scratch tickets from Xavier’s business.
This third visit does not fulfill its objective: we still have no news of the missing family, and the police have found neither photos nor weapons.
Tuesday April 19, 2011. A new interview of Emmanuel T., around is scheduled for 11 a.m. The latter came to return the last 55 key that he had in his possession- he handed over two more the previous weekend. Cédric M. also has two. A total of five keys will therefore be entered into evidence.
Then, in answering the investigators’ questions, Emmanuel T. made a disturbing revelation: “During our visit to Xavier’s, Monday, April 11 between 4 and 4:30 p.m., Cédric and I went out in the yard. I took a half-opened bottle of Frontignan from the fridge and poured a glass of it, which I left on the terrace table. Cédric told me that he had forgotten his cigarettes.” What an amazing vision of two friends smoking and drinking only a few meters above the two graves where the bodies will be discovered!
Also on April 19, the police gathered elements relating to the family’s heritage. Research is being done to find out if Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès has a boat location along the Erdre River in Nantes. Information is taken from the harbor office of Nantes Métropole. The police have, for the first time, access to the list of the family’s bank accounts, which has just been sent to them. Xavier, personally or professionally, and Agnès have opened numerous accounts in several establishments. And they’re all in the red right now…
The two Labradors of the Dupont de Ligonnès family did not escape the investigators either. Research is being carried out to find out whether the Humane Society has recently taken charge of two new dogs. But they come to nothing: no trace of Jules and Léon, even in the smallest kennel of the Nantes region.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011. The family has been actively sought for a week now, and the Nantes press is putting pressure on the floor of the TGI of Nantes. To respond to journalists’ requests, Xavier Ronsin, prosecutor, decides to schedule a press conference at the courthouse for 10:30 a.m. the next day.
But what will the he be able to say in concrete terms? Can he make public the various letters received and present the proposed scenarios, including that of a spy of French nationality working on behalf the US government in the context of international drug trafficking exfiltrated by the United States to a federal witness protection program? One can imagine how perplexing this must have been for the prosecutor. Within the TGI, we understand that it is especially important to highlight the investigation, mainly within the house.
Thus, a fourth home visit is made. This time, it takes place at 10 a.m. in the presence of a magistrate, Mathieu Fohlen. He is accompanied by some investigators from the PJ, including Anne-Sophie R., who has already entered the home twice. Despite the precise description made two days earlier on April 18, they decided to start again from scratch.
What did the magistrate and the police note on April 20? “The general appearance of the house gives the impression of a hasty departure.” They discover a Fichet brand safe key. Several objects and documents are placed under seal, including papers linked to other telephone subscriptions.
In the dishwasher, there are six large and three small plates, cups, and bowls. Everything is clean. The presence of a three-quarter full bottle of a yellow Ajax brand cleanser is noted in the kitchen as is a red cleaning bucket on the ground containing flexible broom that is still wet.
On the refrigerator, there is a telephone number scribbled of someone named D., located in Spain. On the table is a big, old-looking key to the cellar.
The decision was made to sweep the kitchen with Crimescope and Bluestar. These two products are often used in criminal cases to detect traces of blood. The Crimescope is a powerful projector capable of producing very pure lights of varying colors. It is used in grazing white light to look for fibers or hair or, in blue light projected perpendicular on the ground, for traces of DNA (blood, sperm, saliva...).
Bluestar, on the other hand, reveals traces of blood that has been washed, erased, or invisible to the naked eye, but it does not alter the DNA of the blood revealed. The Bluestar reacts positively on the entire tiled kitchen floor, on the broom, and inside the bucket. For the investigators, this reaction should be taken with caution because the Bluestar occasionally gives a false positive.
On a light wooden chair and on a table leg, ten brownish stains, which appear to have been wiped off and could be blood, are also noted. They have an average diameter of half a centimeter.
On a mattress, in one of the bedrooms, a very old blood stain, dry and odorless, is also noted – probably from a nosebleed.
Room after room, the police collect as much information as possible: toothbrushes and razors from the bathroom are placed under seal along with a glass found on a dresser in a bedroom.
Investigators are now able to identify the names of the occupants of the five bedrooms. On the first floor, the bedroom opposite the narrow staircase is that of Arthur; the one on the right, next to the bathroom, is occupied by Anne. On the second floor, the room opposite the staircase is attributed to Thomas; the one on the right, to Benoît. The last is the parents’ bedroom.
The investigators ended their search by searching one of the couple’s cars, which was parked nearby. In the glove compartment, they find the trace of an old bank document concerning Arthur, but this paper does not present anything of interest.
On the other hand, the attention of the investigators focuses on the father’s professional life. They learn that he manages a company, SelRef, based in Pornic, a coastal town 30 miles from Nantes. On site, they go to the obvious: the company appears to be no more than a post office box, and yet Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès, they discover, has not set foot at this address since 2003 or 2004. As for the company’s mail, it has been redirected to 55 boulevard Schuman.
Interviews of relatives are also scheduled, including that of Raymond K., the husband of Nathalie K., already heard on April 16. But nothing particularly important emerges from this mid-afternoon interview.
A few minutes later, at around 4:40 p.m., however, significant information reached the police: the requested report of bank transactions pointed to purchases and expenses made by Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès over the past few days. This information from the banks delivers vital clues: one of the bank cards was used recently to purchase trash bags, adhesive tape, quick cement, and lime. These purchases were made in multiple stores in the suburbs of Nantes. In addition, a card was used to pay a hotel bill in Vaucluse on April 13, and a cash withdrawal of 30 euros was made in the Var, on April 14.
On April 20, the Nantes prosecutor announces the opening of an investigation for a “disturbing disappearance.” Then, a new home visit is scheduled for the 21st. These purchases are disturbing, especially that of lime. It is this last element that will trigger excavations under the terrace because the police know that quicklime is often used for the burial of corpses…
Beginning of criminal investigation
Nantes police station, Thursday April 21, 11:50 a.m.
At the very moment when the forensics team in white coats are busy digging up the first body - and avoiding the contamination of the “frozen” - their colleagues from the judicial branch continue their investigations. Since 10:30 a.m., they are no longer working on a disappearance, but on a crime.
All the steps are taken precisely and methodically.
They immediately interviewed Cédric M., a friend of Xavier’s, a recipient of one of the seven letters sent to relatives, and who entered inside the house ten days earlier with Emmanuel. A garage owner in Morbihan, Cédric very simply recounts what he did on April 11 around 4 p.m. He made the complete tour of Xavier’s house while Emmanuel did not want to go upstairs. He did indeed forget a pack of cigarettes on a table and confirms that Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès had asked him to empty the house.
Then Cédric M., quite spontaneously, threw to the investigators that upon arriving to the station, he heard on Radio France and on RTL that bones had been found in the garden. For him, it is just sensationalist media: “People eat up this crap! They must have been bones that the dogs buried...”
Even if research is now launched all over the region, the Nantes police are concentrating on interviewing “key witnesses.” They want to collect as many pieces of the criminal puzzle as they can. All bank traces received the day before are carefully analyzed. Agnès’ account cards also: a purchase on April 5 at 8 p.m. at a Carrefour Market route de Vannes; a withdrawal of 300 euros on April 7at 4:24 p.m., and a card payment in the amount of 166 euros on April 12 at 6:44 p.m. at the Auberge de Cassagne in Pontet in the Vaucluse.
These scattered elements arrive en masse at the Nantes police station shortly before noon on April 21, just as the extraction of the first body is taking place under the terrace of 55.
Emmanuel T., the best friend of the father who cannot be found, is interviewed a third time. This 51-year-old Dunkerquois without a professional occupation worked until 2009 as a sales manager in industrial cuisine with the Great West company. He knew Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès since the age of 13 or 14 in 1974. With Xavier and another mutual friend, Michel R., who lives near Montpellier, they left for the United States together in the 1980s.
Emmanuel T. insisted on the United States, and in particular on Florida, a state that attracted Xavier enormously. Then, answering the questions, he recalls without going into much detail the extramarital affairs that his friend had confided to him. He reveals that Xavier had affairs with two women named Catherine, one living in Ile-de-France, the other in Savoy.
Then, he confirms that Xavier had just received a letter from the court and asked if it was possible to redirect his mail to Emmanuel’s home, which he agreed to. During the discussion with the investigators, Emmanuel T., whom we imagine is disturbed by this new interview, remembers: “Xavier told me without joking that with the financial difficulties he encountered he could envision “taking the whole family into a definitive solution.”
Emmanuel knows his friend’s financial difficulties. He knows that Xavier owes a lot of money and is unable to repay. Emmanuel says he has already loaned him between 5,000 and 6,000 euros himself. Then, he adds this last disturbing element: just like Michel R., their mutual friend, he received an email with the photo of the Statue of Liberty in the United States with no other indication than this one: “We permanently cease all communication.”
Friday April 22, 2011. Who better than his best friends to know Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès? On this day of the autopsy of the bodies, around 11 a.m., the investigators received a call from Michel R., another one of the recipients of Xavier’s letter referring to his departure for the United States.
Michel R. is not just a simple collaborator of Xavier within La Route des Commercieaux, one of his activities; he is a close friend with whom the wanted father shared many good times. They have known each other for over thirty years.
Michel R. spontaneously explains to the investigators that he spoke with his friend, Xavier, on April 7. He also sent photos on the 5th, dating from a trip they had made together in the United States in the 1980s. He indicated that like Emmanuel T., he had recently received via the Internet a photo of the Statue of Liberty accompanied by this note: “We are definitively ceasing all communication.” Then Michel R. in turn confirms that his friend Xavier is a highly intelligent man. Thus, he considers that during his descent into the South, his friend must have voluntarily used the bank card to locate him, while he had taken care to no longer use the Internet, his cell phone, nor those of his family.
The police know that Michel R. and Emmanuel T. have spoken on the phone many times since they received Xavier’s letter of departure.
Armed with this information, Emmanuel T. was heard again at the beginning of the afternoon. The objective of the investigators is to deepen certain points, in particular on a weapon in Xavier’s possession.
They get the confirmation. “Yes, he inherited from his father a 22 long rifle. Xavier used this weapon to shoot target-practice at a balloon in his back yard. In order to avoid making noise and not to annoy the neighbors, Xavier had purchased a silencer.” The investigation confirms this: Xavier was shooting at the Jonelière stand in Nantes with his best friend Emmanuel. “The last time I saw him was at the shooting range on April 1 around 6 to 6.30 p.m., and with Agnès, it was March 11 at the Nantes restaurant, La Belle Équipe.”
The police are convinced of this: Emmanuel T. knows a lot… They continue the investigation by organizing a search of his home. It takes place between noon and 2 p.m., rue Lavoisière. The neighbors did not fail to notice this police presence. The investigators go directly to the third floor and thoroughly search the F2 apartment where Emmanuel T. resides. They also opened his personal safe, which contained a small wad of bills, his shooting license, and personal papers. They learned that Emmanuel T. owns a 357 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver. The police will leave with a laptop and a mini-pc under their arm, but also with a file seized from the trunk of his Renault Laguna. This file, forty-four sheets thick, belongs to one of Xavier’s “conquests.” “It was Xavier who asked me to keep this document, which I did,” explains Emmanuel, upset, thinking about his 30-year-old friendship with his mate, Xavier. “I can imagine everything: suicide, hit man…” In this file, confidential documents reveal the existence of a financial conflict between Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès and one of his mistresses.
On April 22, interviews are increasing in Nantes, but also throughout the region. Everyone wants to bring their piece to the puzzle taking shape around this complex matter. Elements, more or less verifiable, are provided on all subjects. Here are four examples, among the dozens of testimonies that have been collected:
- Frédéric L., Benoît’s godfather, spontaneously goes to the police station in Arles, where he resides, to explain that he did not see Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès for a long time and that Xavier has a lot of contacts in the United States.
- At 12 o’clock, a neighbor of the boulevard Schuman remembers that one night, between midnight and 2 a.m., he heard ten detonations at an extraordinarily regular rate. But this witness no longer remembers the precise date of these shots...
- At 3 p.m., a close relative of the family comes to Nanterre and supports two points hitherto unknown to the investigators: Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès’ mistress would be called Claudia, and XDDL would also be an alcoholic.
- At 4:45 p.m., a gunsmith from Nantes remember perfectly that two months early, the father of the family, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès, called himself “sniper priest” (!), and explained that his family was in danger of death. He wanted to buy a handgun to defend himself from a big burly person that threatened him...
Anyway, the investigators will learn that Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès bought a silencer for his 22 long rifle and on March 12, 2011 and ammunition in another armory located in the city center of Nantes.
The police send all this information and considerations, however surprising they may be, to the TGI of Nantes in charge of sorting them out.
On April 23, Xavier Ronsin again appeared before the press and declared “We can now speak of a methodical execution of Agnès Dupont de Ligonnès and her four children. Research has established that Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès had recently inherited a rifle from his father. The pursuit of his investigation and his testimony are obviously essential to precisely determine the causes of these five deaths.”