Nearly a decade ago, an aristocratic French family appeared to vanish from their upscale home and were later found slaughtered on the property. The family's patriarch, though, was nowhere to be found, sparking a mystery that persists to this day.
Count Xavier DuPont De Ligonnès seemed to have a flourishing professional and family life in the western French city of Nantes but in reality his finances were in a dire condition. And in the aftermath of his family's murders, his reputation quickly turned from respected noble to a suspected murderer on the run.
The third episode of Netflix's newly rebooted “Unsolved Mysteries” — "House of Terror" — dives into the murders and explores theories about what happened to DuPont.
Xavier, his wife Agnès, 48, and their four children – Arthur, 21; Thomas, 18; Anne, 16; and Benoît, 13 – seemingly disappeared in early April 2011. Estelle Chapon, a neighbor, told the producers of “Unsolved Mysteries” that on April 11, she noticed that the shutters of the home — which were always open, even when the family went on vacation — had all been closed and that there was a note on the door that read (in French) "return all mail to sender." Chapon felt in her gut that something wasn’t right and she called the police.
A letter from Xavier was found, in which he claimed to be a U.S. secret agent who had entered the witness protection program. The children's private schools had also received a letter claiming the family was moving to Australia.
But, a week after Chapon called the authorities, the bodies of all the family members — minus Xavier — and their two dogs were discovered underneath the home. Agnès and the kids had been drugged and then shot twice in the head execution style with a .22 rifle as they slept. Xavier had inherited such a weapon from his father just weeks before and, as “Unsolved Mysteries” pointed out, he'd recently purchased a silencer. Investigators believe he pulled the trigger, killing his family and then fleeing.
As the investigation unfolded, authorities learned that Xavier had been spotted at a hotel in the south of France on April 12 and that he was last seen a few days later in the coastal town of Roquebrune-sur-Argens, where he'd abandoned his car. CCTV footage captured him leaving, holding a bag which authorities believed contained the rifle used to kill his family.
An international warrant was put out for Xavier’s arrest in May but he was never found. While investigators think he might have committed suicide in a remote location, no body was ever recovered, recovered sparking rumors and theories that he could still be alive.
Journalist Anne-Sophie Martin told “Unsolved Mysteries” that Xavier had conducted the “perfect disappearance” because "since to this day, years and years later, he still hasn't been caught." She noted that the south of France is an ideal location to flee to another country, by boat or train.
Jean-Marc Bloch, a retired police investigator, told the show’s producers that Xavier, if still alive, could blend in well.
“The problem in this case is that Xavier DuPont De Ligonnès looks a bit like everybody else, with no strong features,” he said. “He’s of average height. Physically, he doesn’t stand out. He’s physically normal. And there’s nothing worse in this situation than physically normal people because they both stay unnoticed and they draw too much attention.”
There have indeed been plenty of sightings and there have been more than 1,000 tips regarding his potential whereabouts, Connexion France reported in 2018.
A person claiming to be Xavier even sent a note to Agence France-Presse in 2015.
“I am still alive," the message stated, adding cryptically “from then until this hour,” according to France's France24 News. It's unclear if investigators view the letter as credible as French prosecutors have never publicly commented on it.
Investigators looked at a monastery in Roquebrune-sur-Argen, where Xavier was last seen, in 2018 after they were tipped off that a monk there resembled him, Connexion France reported at the time. But the monk was merely a doppelganger.
Then, in 2019, a man was detained at a Scotland airport after authorities believed he was Xavier, the BBC reported in 2019. It was, again, a folly that can likely be attributed to Xavier’s non-distinct appearance.
Even now, investigators are still looking for Xavier. Series co-creator Terry Dunn Meurer told Oxygen.com that she hopes this case, along with the others featured in the reboot, can be solved. Of the more than 1,300 cases the show has covered since its original run began decades ago, they’ve solved more than 260.
Anyone with tips on the DuPont murders is urged to submit them to “Unsolved Mysteries.”
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