A Macabre Nightmare at a French Chateau
The Missing-Money Trail
The source of Mr. Hall's wealth that had allowed him and his wife to live in Le Chatellier while raising a family and driving around in luxury cars for 12 years remains a mystery. Sources interviewed for this story thought that the Halls had access to funds from Mrs. Hall's family, yet that could not be corroborated.
"I heard that his wife had money," Earnshaw said, reflecting what several other sources told truTV. "But I still don't know how he managed to survive in France for so many years."
If indeed the Halls had been relying on access to money drawn on a British bank account, the British pound has seen a steep decline in value versus the euro. The October 2010 exchange rate was about one British pound to 1.14 euros, compared to over 1.50 euros in January 2007, a 24% decline. However, whether the plummet in the British pound's value became as a source of friction within the Hall family has yet to be disclosed.
As for the construction of the golf course, the project was moving along well at the time of Mrs. Hall's death, Andrew Booth, Hall's architect, told truTV. "The deal was happening. We got approval last month," Mr. Booth said. "The idea that the project was dead in the water is not true at all."
Mr. Booth conceded that there was "some frustration" that it took five years for the plan to go through, but, during the days leading up to Mrs. Hall's death, the project's outlook was better than it had been. After getting the green light from town officials, plans were also in place to sell plots of land that could generate over £2.5 million ($4.0 million), more than enough to fund the golf course and hotel, Mr. Booth said. "With things put into place, the land value will go up," Booth said.
The mayor of Le Chatellier said there was some initial tension when Mr. Hall first announced that he wanted to construct the golf course, due in part to the language barrier and to the bureaucratic process required for building projects in France. "I met with Mr. and Mrs. Hall and the architect on several occasions at the town hall. While Mr. Hall did not speak French, Mrs. Hall could make herself understood and served as an interpreter for him," Mr. Sourdin said. "The meetings went smoothly, although compared to England, things sometimes moved a little slowly for Mr. Hall. But in France, there are procedures that must be followed for such a project."
Mr. Sourdin also admitted that the success of the real-estate project would be a good thing for the community and that the town stood to benefit from its success "We wanted it to work," Mr. Sourdin said. "It was a good thing for the community."