Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Xavier Dupont de Ligonn&es: Family Murdered, Father Vanishes

France's Most Wanted Man

Surveillance footage shows Xavier using an ATM.
Surveillance footage shows Xavier using an ATM.
Xavier hardly did a good job of trying to disappear immediately following the murder of his family. He used his credit card to withdrawal less than 100 euros at an ATM on his way to the south of France during the days following the murders. He eventually checked into a posh five-star resort in southern France called the Auberge de Cassagne, which is located near Avignon, not far from France's famous Provence region. There, according to news reports, witnesses said he had a calm demeanor and was a polite and seemingly refined guess.

During the days that Xavier was in the region, the body of Colette Deromme, a 50-year-old mother, was discovered near the town of Lorgues, which is in the same region of the hotel in which Xavier stayed. Police have not been forthcoming with details about how she died, but they confirmed that she was murdered and that her body was found under a pile of rocks.

Investigators say there may be a link between Colette Deromme's murder and Xavier due to the fact that he was in the Var region when she disappeared. There is also another strange coincidence: Xavier and his family lived in Colette Deromme's home town of Lorgues in 2003. However, investigators have not publicly disclosed direct evidence linking Xavier to Colette Deromme.

As far as Xavier's whereabouts in the region during the days after Colette Deromme's murder, police only know that Xavier spent a few nights a the Auberge de Cassagne and that he paid his bill with a credit card that was not refused. Xavier then drove over 100 miles to Roquebrune-sur-Argens where he abandoned his small Citroën C5 and left behind his cell phone battery.

In southern France during the weeks after the murder, Xavier's wanted poster was plastered on trees, sign posts, and walls in and around hundreds of villages. Residents in southern France inundated local police with panicked calls claiming they had seen Xavier, although the vast majority were erroneous. Public officials eventually had to issue bulletins to calm those that claimed a mad killer was looking to strike in the region again.

The murders as well as Xavier's disappearance has also been etched into France's collective consciousness where national French TV, radio stations, newspapers, and Web outlets have fed the interest of millions about the case in France as well as in neighboring countries in Europe during the past months.

But despite Xavier's notoriety, Xavier has continued to elude the police, that is, if he is indeed alive. Given Xavier's feckless history of failed business ventures and a limited education, he hardly seems like someone who would be crafty enough to elude the French equivalent of the FBI as well as Interpol agents abroad. Some media reports have speculated that Xavier probably killed himself and that hunters will stumble on his body in the countryside of southern France in fall or winter. But in the meantime, Xavier's exact whereabouts remain unknown.

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