POLICE have found the bodies of four young people and their mother buried under the garden of their family home in Nantes town centre.
They are looking for the father, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès, 50, whose bank card was reportedly was used in Fréjus in the Var yesterday.
Formal identification will come after an autopsy, said the Nantes public prosecutor, however the bodies appear to be those of the mother, Agnès, 49, her sons Arthur, 21, Thomas, 18, and Anne, 16. They appear to have been shot.
The discovery was made as police investigated the disappearance of the family, who had not been seen since around April 4 and 5. No signs of violence were found and wardrobes had been emptied.
Before disappearing the family had sent “deranged and contradictory” messages, said the prosecutor, Xavier Ronsin.
The headteacher of the school of the younger children received a note that they were being withdrawn from school because of an “urgent work-related move to Australia”. People close to the family were told the father was a secret agent for America and was going there to assist with witness protection in “an important trial linked to drugs”.
The neighbours had given the alert after noticing the house had been shut up for some time.
Police initially thought the family may have deliberately “disappeared” because they had financial difficulties.
According to a neighbour interviewed on RTL radio, the father was seen around two weeks ago filling his car boot with “big bags”. During two nights the family dogs were heard howling, neighbours said.
The family were described as discreet and ordinary. The father sold advertising and the mother was a superviser in a school and gave Catholic religious instruction.