'Time froze' at bloody house of missing French family

By Lori Hinnant, Associated Press | Posted - Mar. 1, 2017 at 10:38 a.m.


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PARIS (AP) — Forensics officers locked down a neighborhood in western France on Wednesday, searching for traces of a four-member family that disappeared, leaving behind a bloody cellphone, stripped beds and a home where a prosecutor said "time froze."

Down to the missing computers and the hasty attempts to scrub away DNA evidence, the disappearance of the Troadec family had eerie echoes from the past.

For six years, investigators in the city of Nantes have been haunted by the deaths of another local family — and have been searching for the father suspected of killing his wife and four children.

Nantes prosecutor Pierre Sennes told Europe 1 radio Wednesday that the hope is to "intensify the assessment of what could have happened in the house" belonging to the Troadec family. A nationwide police bulletin on the family said initial suspicion had fallen on the couple's 21-year-old son, "suspected of having a deadly plan to kill the members of his family and perhaps himself."

Traces of blood from the parents, Pascal and Brigitte, and from son Sebastien, were found on the staircase and ground floor during an initial search Feb. 23 in the parents' home in suburban Orvault. Sebastien Troadec's Peugeot is the only car missing, and his bloody cellphone was found in the house.

A jogger found his 18-year-old sister Charlotte's health card and her trousers in a ditch more than 270 kilometers (168 miles) away Wednesday, according to the Le Parisien and Ouest France newspapers.

Sebastien's phone, like the other phones of the family, has gone unused since Feb. 17. The beds were stripped and there were no toothbrushes in the bathrooms. Dishes cluttered the sink; a load of wet laundry filled the washing machine.

Sennes, the prosecutor, opened a homicide investigation in the case this week after investigators spent the weekend searching for clues.

"It's like time froze in the house," he said Sunday.

According to Ouest France, the family's electronic devices were missing, but the person who took them left behind their charging cords.

This was also the case in the killings blamed on Xavier Dupont de Lignonnes, whose wife and four children were found buried beneath their porch in 2011, less than 4 kilometers (2 1/2 miles) from the Troadec home. The oldest of those children was a student at the same school as Sebastien, Ouest France said.

De Lignonnes has never been found. French national television aired a documentary about the case in January, in which his best friend speculates that he started a new life abroad.

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Lori Hinnant

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