Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès: A breakdown of the mystery that has been haunting France for 13 years

The story of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès has been fascinating French people for many years. The man who was last seen in 2011 is the subject of an international arrest warrant and remains the suspect in the murder of his wife and four children.

Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès French killer
© DR
Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès French killer

It's a story that has left a lasting impression. In April 2011, the name Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès struck fear into the hearts of French people, as he became the prime suspect in the murder of his wife, four children and two dogs in Nantes.

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Bodies, discovered by the authorities, were found buried in the garden of the family home, specifically under their new terrace and identified as Agnès Dupont de Ligonnès (his wife) and their four children: Arthur, Thomas, Anne and Benoît. After these atrocious murders and an international arrest warrant, the father of the family mysteriously disappeared. Since then, speculation has been rife as to whether the suspect is still alive or not.

Here's a breakdown of the story.

The story in 14 key dates

  • 1 April 2011: The disturbing purchases of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès After several strange purchases, including cement, a spade and a hoe, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès arouses suspicion.
  • 11 April 2011: The first attempts at concealment Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès sends letters explaining the absence of his family by a transfer to Australia.
  • 15 April 2011: The last sighting of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès After spending the night in a hotel, Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès mysteriously disappears.
  • 19 April 2011: The investigation into the disappearance of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès is opened The authorities open an investigation into the disappearance of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès after the Dupont de Ligonnès family has not been heard from since.
  • 21 April 2011: The macabre discovery under the terrace The bodies of Agnès and her four children are discovered buried under the terrace of the family home. On 22 April 2011, the autopsies reveal what they call 'methodical execution'. French publication Libération writes that each member of the family was killed with 'at least two shots to the head'.
  • 26 April 2011: International arrest warrant issued An international arrest warrant is issued for Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès, making him the main suspect in the murders.
  • 26 July 2011: Multiple unsuccessful searches Numerous searches and hearings take place, but to no avail.
  • 28 April 2015: Discovery of bones Unfortunately, the bones discovered near Fréjus are not those of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès.
  • 14 July 2015: An enigmatic message A message signed ‘Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès’ is sent to AFP, fuelling speculation.
  • 9 January 2018: Unsuccessful intervention in a monastery A police raid on a monastery in Roquebrune-sur-Argens yields no results as to its whereabouts.
  • 11 October 2019: An arrest in Glasgow After an ‘anonymous tip-off’,an arrest in Glasgow turns out to be a mistake...
  • 9 March 2024: Revelations from Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès' sister Christine, the sister of the main suspect, is convinced that her brother is alive and that it was all a ‘set-up’ to benefit the plan to exfiltrate Xavier Dupont Ligonnès and his family.
  • 4 April 2024: Report from the Sisters of Bethany congregation A woman claims to have recognised the fugitive in a religious congregation in Montferrand-le-Château, in the Doubs region.
  • 5 April 2024: Numerous eyewitness accounts about the community of the sisters of Bethany Two other people confirm the presence of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès in a religious community, intensifying the search. A DNA test is required. Later on that test reveals that it wasn't Xavier.

Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès' sister Christine insists he is alive

Although Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès has not been found in the thirteen years he has been missing, numerous reports have been issued from various countries and testimonies have been collected to no avail. His sister Christine and her husband Bertram came out of their silence on Saturday, 9 March 2024 where there were the guests of the French talk show Quelle époque!

For the suspect's sister, the father of the family is still alive. She explained:

I think he's alive. After that, anything can happen, of course

She also added that, for her, there was little chance that the man would still be in France. But Christine goes even further in her hypothesis about her brother, explaining that the April 2011 murders were 'staged' to benefit the plan to exfiltrate Xavier Dupont Ligonnès and his family.

In her bookXavier, mon frère, présumé innocent, Christine defends the presumed innocence of her brother, revealing that she had received a strange letter from him.

I received a letter from my brother before the bodies were found, so I have a different approach.

The strange letter that turns theories on their head

On the talk show, the sister of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès read an extract from the multi-page letter she received on 11 April 2011

Hello everyone. Mega-surprise, we've left for the USA in a hurry, under very special conditions that we'll explain below. You are receiving this letter by regular post, as we are unable to communicate in any other way (neither email, nor SMS, nor telephone) and will do so for a few years, for security reasons.

In this letter, the father, on the run, also explains that he, his wife and children are already no longer in France, and that they will not be able to return for 'an as yet undetermined period of time'. He also mentions a 'certain tension with the children' due to their lack of communication with the outside world.

The sister accuses the police of 'complicity'.

On the show, the sister revealed that she had recently spoken to her brother on the phone:

I don't know anything about exfiltration. I believe in my brother. I spoke to him on the phone recently, and he didn't sound like an assassin. I do know how he works,

Lea Salamé, the host of the show, wasn't so easily convinced by the woman and asked for more information. She challenged the woman on the biggest thing is the case: the bodies found buried thirteen years ago. She asked:

Is it another family that died? Are those other children buried in the garden?

To which Xavier's sister replied:

Oh no, I don't think another family was killed

However, police and forensic findings have proven that the bodies found under the terrace of the Dupont de Ligonnès house were of the man's children and wife. This doesn't prevent his sister from adamantly defending him and, in 2024, she now accuses the police of having 'participated in this scenario' and of being 'complicit in his exfiltration'. Despite far-fetched explanations and many grey areas, Christine is firmly convinced that the whole family is still alive abroad.

The mystery continues

A few days after the publication of Christine Dupont de Ligonnès's book (April 2024), three people reported to the police that they had seen the presumed murderer in an abbey.

The witnesses said they recognised Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès in the community of the Dominican Sisters of Bethany, at Montferrand-le-Château, near Besançon. The investigators followed up this lead by carrying out DNA tests on a can left by the mysterious visitor in question, who did not wish to give his identity.

And on Monday 15 April 2024, Renaud Gaudeul, the public prosecutor in Nantes, revealed the results of the DNA tests carried out on the can.

I hereby inform you that the analyses carried out have made it possible to extract a DNA sample. This has been compared with that of Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes


The two DNA profiles do not match. The examining magistrate and the investigating departments are continuing their investigations and the fastidious but meticulous checks of all the reports received

The mystery continues...

This article has been adapted from the following articles:

Oh!mymag France: Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès est "vivant", selon sa sœur Christine qui accuse la police d’être "complice de son exfiltration"

Oh!mymag France: Affaire Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès : voici le verdict des analyses ADN réalisées

Oh!mymag France: Affaire Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès : une énigme en 15 dates clés

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France 2

Le procureur de Nantes

Le Monde

L'Est Républicain

France 2

Libération: Les grandes dates de l'affaire Dupont de Ligonnès

Two people arrested 31 years after mysterious murder of mother in England Two people arrested 31 years after mysterious murder of mother in England