French murder mystery provokes 'morbid treasure hunt'

David Chazan
Pierre Sennes, the Nantes prosecutor, said detectives had been led on a “morbid treasure hunt” - AFP or licensors

Police investigating the mysterious disappearance of a French family of four have questioned the sister and brother-in-law of the missing father, sources close to the case said.

Pascal Troadec and his wife Brigitte, both aged 49, their son Sébastien, 21, and 18-year-old daughter Charlotte have not been seen since February 16.

French Gendarmes and a member of the French judiciary police take part in search operations looking for the Troadec family, missing since February 16 - Credit: AFP

A murder investigation was opened after the family vanished and bloodstains were found throughout their suburban home in Nantes, also in western France.

Mr Troadec’s sister and her ex-husband were detained after forensic officers discovered traces of his DNA in the house and Sébastien’s car, which was found parked about thirty miles from the family home on Thursday.

It appeared to have been cleaned but traces of blood were still found in the boot, sources close to the investigation said. 

Police suspect there may have been a family dispute over an inheritance last year, according to local newspapers.

A French gendarme combs a ditch as part of search operations for the Troadec family, missing since February 16 - Credit: AFP/AFP

Personal effects belonging to Charlotte and her father were found in woodland last week.

Pierre Sennes, the Nantes prosecutor, said the way the clues had been scattered in different places resembled a “morbid treasure hunt” intended to send investigators on a wild goose chase. 

Gendarmes search in a pond ss part of the research for the Troadec family, missing since February 16 - Credit: AFP

About 100 investigators are trying to trace the Troadecs. The prosecutor said the quantity of blood found at the house indicated very serious injuries and probably death, but so far no bodies have been found. 

The case bears eerie similarities to the disappearance of another family in the area six years ago in the same area.

A mother and four children were found buried beneath their porch in 2011, less than three miles from the Troadecs' home. The father, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes, remains at large and is the subject of an international arrest warrant.

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