Today, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès is suspected of killing his five family members, and remains one of France's most wanted men.
In 2019, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès was supposedly spotted in Glasgow—but it was yet another false lead. Here's an update.
Entitled "House of Horrors," the episode details a notoriously famous case in France, which has inspired multiple books, podcasts, and an ongoing manhunt. In April of 2011, the Dupont de Ligonnès family of Nantes, France—a family of aristocratic, noble blood—seemingly disappeared.
Xavier and his wife, Agnes, and their four children: Arthur, 21, Thomas, 18, Anne, 16, and Benoit, 13, were gone—and deliberately so. Their bank accounts were closed. The house emptied of belongings. On the mailbox, there was a note that said, "Return all mail to sender."
The only message from the family was a mysterious letter from the patriarch Xavier, claiming he was a U.S. secret agent who had entered the witness protection program. Similarly, the children's private Catholic schools received a letter that they were moving to Australia.
A week after a neighbor called the police, all of the Dupont de Ligonnès family members were found dead—except for Xavier. Suddenly, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès went from being a respected nobleman to a prime suspect in a murder case.
What happened to the Dupont de Ligonnès family?
On April 21, 2011, Agnes, her four children, and the two family Labradors were found buried beneath the terrace of their grand house. They were wrapped in bags, and buried alongside religious icons.
The autopsy indicated the manner of their death was a “methodical execution." The children were given sleeping pills, and shot in the head with a .22 rifle—which happened to be the same size rifle that Xavier inherited from his father, Hubert, months earlier.
According to the Unsolved Mysteries episode, the children had promising futures. Arthur, the eldest—who technically was Agnès's child from another man, and was adopted by Xavier—was studying IT in college. Thomas, passionate about music, was also in college as well. Anne balanced her high school workload with a career as a model. Benoit, just 13, studied at the same school as his older sister.
Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès became the prime suspect, sparking a manhunt in France.
Xavier, more and more, was looking like the prime suspect in this case. For one, before the massacre, Xavier had practiced shooting at a local rifle club, and purchased a silencer. According to law enforcement, he also bought garbage bags and cement.
Afterwards, police discovered that Xavier was struggling with significant debt. The descendent of a French count, Xavier's inheritance had been squandered. According to the book Bodies in the Back Garden, Agnes—who frequented online forums—wrote that Xavier said, "If we all die at once, then everything would be over. We would no longer miss anything."
Then, there was the obvious: Xavier went on the run after the massacre. On April 12, Xavier was spotted at a hotel in the South of France. The last time he was seen was on April 15, 2011, in the coastal town of Roquebrune-sur-Argens. CCTV footage captured him leaving a budget hotel, and taking €30 out of a cash machine. He abandoned his car, a blue Citroen C5, outside the hotel. The last known image of Xavier is him holding a large bag, thought to contain his rifle.
The police suspect that he may have taken his own life somewhere remote, though no body has been found. However, it's also possible that he escaped France—and that possibility has fueled many other potential sightings.
— Unsolved Mysteries (@Unsolved) July 1, 2020
In 2015, he (supposedly) reached out to journalists.
According to France's France24 news, Xavier sent a note to a journalist at the AFP (Agence France-Presse) claiming he was alive. The note reportedly said, “I am still alive" and “From then until this hour.” Brigitte Lamy, the prosecutor for Nantes, did not release any new information about the case.
— RTL France (@RTLFrance) July 24, 2015
Over the years, there have been numerous false sightings—like one in Glasgow in 2019.
Police have received over 1,000 leads of where Xavier has disappeared, including ones in Africa and Thailand.
One promising tip-off came in 2018, when police received a call that a monk at Saint-Désert-des-Carmes resembled Xavier. Notably, the monastery is located in the village of Roquebrune-sur-Argen, where Xavier was last seen. The investigation reached an unusual road block: All of the monks have taken a vow of silence. Xavier was not found.
A year later, in 2019, a man suspected to be Xavier was detained at the Glasgow airport after flying in from Paris. Scotland police issued a statement: "Inquiries were undertaken to confirm the man's identity. Following the results of these tests it has been confirmed that the man arrested is not the man suspected of crimes in France."
There have been no public sightings of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès in 2020—but with millions of Netflix viewers informed of this crime, perhaps there will be.
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