Hunt for alleged murderer leads to silent monastery

The monks in the Saint-Désert-des-Carmes monastery have all taken a vow of silence

The trail of one of France’s most wanted alleged murderers, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès, took police to a silent monastery this week, with lacklustre results.

Police were tipped off to a sighting of a man who was said to resemble Dupont de Ligonnès, who has been on the run for seven years, after the alleged murder of his wife and four children in Nantes in 2011.

Dupont de Ligonnès is the prime suspect in the murder, with police claiming that he shot the victims at close range, before allegedly burying them in the garden of his grand house in Nantes.

However, Dupont de Ligonnès has never been formally charged or investigated, as he has been on the run - escaping police - ever since.

After already having investigated over 1,000 different leads on the case, police visited the monastery of Saint-Désert-des-Carmes, in the village of Roquebrune-sur-Argens (Var; Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur), where a tip-off suggested that a “monk” looked very similar to Dupont de Ligonnès.

The visit was said to be a challenge, as the monks have all taken a vow of silence, and are not normally allowed to speak. Police travelled to the monastery respectfully, without sirens or loudspeakers, in a bid to “not disturb the solemnity of the place”.

The police were then able to enter, and, after checking all of the monks, ascertained that the tip-off appeared to be a dead end. The man said to “look like” Dupont de Ligonnès was actually someone else, who just looked quite similar from a distance, reports concluded.

Roquebrune-sur-Argens is in the Var (Photo: Dave.Dunford / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

This particular tip-off had appeared especially pertinent, however, as Dupont de Ligonnès was last seen officially in the Var, in April 2011. CCTV footage shows him to have taken out his last €30 at a cash machine, after leaving a Formule 1 hotel, with an “indecipherable” look on his face. He has not been seen officially since.

Dupont de Ligonnès was also said to have enjoyed spending summer holidays as a child in the Var area, and police felt that the monks’ vow of silence could have also worked to Dupont de Ligonnès’ advantage.

And yet, the police investigation revealed nothing.

“Sightings” of Dupont de Ligonnès are said to come in regularly, with recent reports to police coming from across Africa or Thailand.

Mostly, these supposed tip-offs have been nothing more than “distance sightings” of other, similar-looking men, but police continue to investigate in hopes that one day, the tip-off will be justified.

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