Last week, in idyllic Lake Annecy, France (someplace I’ve visited and posted about frequently) horrific murders took place. The case has generated a lot of intrigue and theories, but remains unsolved. Here’s what is known:
- Iraqi-born British engineer Saad Al-Hilli, his wife Iqbal and a woman believed to be his mother-in-law were on vacation near Annecy, France when they were shot inside his BMW.
- They were all shot twice in the head at close range.
- Al-Hilli’s child, who witnessed the murder was shot in the shoulder and badly pistol whipped, but survived. British cyclist Brett Martin found her stumbling in front of the car and administered first aid. He then left the scene to call emergency services. The BMW’s doors were locked; she was found outside the car.
- A second four-year-old daughter survived, taking refuge under her mother’s skirts. She remained there undetected for eight hours after police had sealed off the scene.
- The Al-Hilli family had been camping nearby. Mr. Al-Hilli arrived at a campsite earlier in the week, told people that he would be staying all week, then inexplicably checked out the two days later. He switched to the more remote, Solitaire du Lac campsite up the road.
- French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, was also shot in the head at point-blank range. He was a local man who had three children.
- The murders took place near the village of Chevaline, which is located about 10 km from Annecy as you climb the mountain on the lake.
- No shots were heard, so some suspect a silencer was used.
- Investigators found 15 cartridge cases scattered around the car and bullet impacts on the windows.
- They were shot with a Luger P08. This highly-distnctive weapon is known for being the Swiss Army standard issue.
Worryingly, the French prosecutor, Eric Maillaud, seems to enjoy the publicity and seek it out. The “professional” nature of the murders led him to speculate that they are the work of an targets of an international contract killer. As someone who vacations and hikes in that area, it is definitely less scary than the thought that there is a mass murderer who strikes at random on the loose, but still horrifying.
Theories put forth by others include: the murders are a result of a family row over money, they are related to Mr. Al-Hilli’s business activities, his political affiliations in his country of birth (Iraq), and French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, may been the real target (with the family stumbling into his murder). Police in several countries are pursuing these theories, although they may take years to solve. This beautiful area will never seem the same.