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Alps family murders: British specialist builds profile of killer

The unsolved 2012 Chevaline killings are the subject of a new investigation with a psychologist consultant’s ‘profile’ proposing idea that it was a local man

The tragic murder case has still not been solved, nine years later Pic: Eric Bery / Shutterstock

A British specialist has created a psychological profile of the suspected killer in the still-unsolved murders in the French mountain town of Chevaline in 2012.

Four people were found murdered in the Haute-Savoie town in September of that year. Three members of the same family, who were British residents, were found dead in their parked car, on a forest road. 

The father, Saad al-Hilli, 50, an Iraqi-born British engineer, his wife Iqbal, 47, and mother-in-law, Suhaila al-Allaf, 74 were killed by bullets to the head. 

The couple’s two daughters were present and found hiding in the car. One of them was injured, and the other unhurt.

A cyclist – Sylvain Mollier, 45, a father from the local area – was also killed, having been shot seven times.

The tragic case has still not been solved.

‘Cold case’ re-opened

The Annecy prosecutor is now set to confer the ‘cold case’ file to a new criminal department in Nanterre, Hauts-de-Seine, to reopen the case and enquiries surrounding it.

The prosecutor said that this new unit will be given more time and more resources to solve the mystery. For example, one of the investigating judges of the unit is set to rely on a new psychological sketch of the shooter, made by a British expert.

The specialist is a forensic clinical psychologist consultant, who produced the portrait after reading hundreds of minutes and other interviews with French and British investigators and after analysing the existing criminological literature on serial killings.

The profile states that: 

  • Killer 99% likely to be a man, aged 30-40 years
  • Isolated act by someone who could be mentally unstable
  • Someone living alone or in an isolated, sheltered situation; and/or unemployed
  • Someone with attraction and/or knowledge of guns
  • Possibly ex-military, or a collector, hunter, members of a shooting club or paramilitary
  • Someone from the local area

The expert wrote: “I envisage the theory that the perpetrator of the Chevaline attacks acted due to their own motives, entirely independent of the victims in this case.”

The profile does not rule out that the perpetrator had psychological problems, including a form of “paranoia” caused by “hatred of a community or a particular target”.

On January 12 this year, a man was arrested and taken into police custody as part of inquiries into the murders. 

Read more: Arrest made nine years after quadruple murder in French Alps 

Read more; Update: What is known about man arrested over French Alps shootings? 

He was later released without charge and ruled out of the investigation.

Read more: French Alps killings: motorbike rider released without charge 

Not long after the murders were discovered, authorities released a sketch of a motorcyclist, who had been seen by two forest rangers close to the scene of the crime. 

However, this lead was abandoned in 2015.

Related articles

Update: What is known about man arrested over French Alps shootings? 

Corpse found in Alps village scene of 2012 British killings 

Chevaline victim's "secret" ex-spouse 

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