How does someone on a salary of £28 an hour with a wife not working and two children in school, own a house in Surrey, in France, in Spain and drive a BMW and take regular vacations each year? Was he a practicing Muslim or converted to Christianity? Was he involved in unknown Islamic political circles? This could be either a monetary/property dispute, politically motivated or even an apostasy killing.
Was Alpine family killer a professional hitman? Manhunt for assassin who shot Surrey businessman and grandmother in middle of forehead, cracks skull of daughter, 8, and leaves girl, 4, hiding under dead mother’s skirt
Police failed to find terrified youngster until midnight because ‘they didn’t want to disturb crime scene’
‘She could not tell the difference between the good guys and bad guys’ says French prosecutor
Father named by police as Saad Al Hilli, a Baghdad-born businessman who now lives with his family in Claygate, Surrey
Her older sister, 8, was found near car in critical condition after being hit three times over the head with a blunt instrument
A cyclist, named locally as French father-of-three Sylvain Mollier, found dead nearby with gunshots wounds
Police probe campsite where family had been staying in nearby Saint Jorioz after British family reported them missing
Also investigating possible link to foiled car-jacking by four masked attackers carrying pistol in town 50 miles away
PUBLISHED: 17:55, 5 September 2012 |
A four-year-old British girl found alive under the bodies of her family who were massacred in the French Alps told police how she was so terrified she ‘could not tell the difference between the good guys and bad guys’, it emerged today.
Police finally discovered the youngster ‘frozen still’ after hiding under her dead mother’s skirt in a British-registered BMW around eight hours after the shootings took place.
The two other bodies are believed to be those of her grandmother and father, who has been named as Saad Al Hilli, a Baghdad-born business secretary who now lives with his family in upmarket Claygate in Surrey.
Mr Al Hilli is thought to have lived in the UK since at least 2002 and the grandmother had a Swedish passport, according to French officials.
He is also believed to have been the secretary of a Wiltshire-based aerial photography company, AMS 1087, since 2007. A member of staff at the firm told MailOnline they could not comment on the tragedy.
The girl’s eight-year-old sister was discovered lying on the road nearby in a critical condition after being hit over the head three times with a blunt instrument, possibly a rifle, sources say.
A male cyclist, who had also suffered gunshot wounds, was found dead close to the car.
French prosecutor Eric Maillaud today said three of the four killed were shot ‘in the middle of the head’, but had no idea why they were targeted.
The killings were first reported at around 3.50pm yesterday and local police were on scene within minutes.
But officers did not open the windows or doors of the bullet-ridden car for fear the glass would shatter and compromise ballistics enquiries.
FRENCH POLICE ‘SHOULD HAVE CHECKED FOR SIGNS OF LIFE’, SAY UK FORENSICS EXPERTS
Forensic experts said the first job for police who arrived at the crime scene should have been to check for survivors.
But it could be that the first officers called to the rural beauty spot in the French countryside simply ‘panicked’ when confronted with the horror.
In the UK, a doctor would be called to certify death – doing so, in this instance, that could have alerted officers that the child was alive amidst the carnage in the car.
Jim Fraser, professor of forensic science at the University of Strathclyde, said the first responsibility for officers confronted with such a crime scene is to check the victims for signs of life.
It has been known for victims even with gunshot wounds to the head to live for hours and survive if they get emergency treatment.
He said: ‘The overriding responsibility to the first responder at a crime scene, in the UK, would be to ensure that all individuals present are accounted for, their health and welfare, with an initial but thorough look at the crime scene.’
Prof Fraser said of such multiple death crimes: ‘It’s a pretty horrible scene – not for the faint-hearted.’
Forensic experts say it is a fiction to think murder scenes are preserved in pristine condition until they are examined by crime scene investigators.
Only after police have carried out their duty to preserve life and certify death do they ‘freeze the scene’.
Instead, they had to wait until midnight – several hours later – for forensics specialists to arrive from Paris, a police source said. It was only then that the four-year-old was discovered inside the vehicle.
‘The reconstruction of the crime scene meant that everything had to remain in place,’ said the police source.
‘This meant doors and windows had to remain shut until forensics officers and ballistics specialists arrived from Paris.
‘Windows had bullet holes in them but had not fallen in. The fear was that they would if the doors were opened.’
At one stage, a helicopter equipped with thermal cameras flew over the BMW, but failed to detect the little girl hiding inside.
This is thought to be because she was hidden under her mother’s body, which would still be emitting heat.
Describing the four-year-old’s ordeal, Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud said: ‘When the investigators got into the car, they discovered a little girl, who was frozen still and uninjured.
‘She was hidden under the bodies for some eight hours and didn’t move for the whole time. She could not tell the difference between the good guys and bad guys.
‘She spontaneously began to smile and speak in English when the policeman took her in his arms and pulled her out of the car.
‘She had heard the noises, the cries but she couldn’t say more, she is only four years old. She’s fine now – she’s being well looked after’.
It is not known whether she crawled under the bodies to hide or was left trapped when they fell on top of her.
She is currently being cared for by child psychiatrists in hospital.
Her eight-year-old sister was shot three times in the attack and rushed by helicopter to hospital in a critical condition, officials said.
Reported missing: The family were believed to have been staying at a campsite in Saint Jorioz (above)
The family had arrived in France in late August and the father was in his 50s, said a police source.
They were believed to have been staying at a camping site in Saint Jorioz, where a British family reported their disappearance to police on Wednesday night.
Fellow campers at the caravan site in Saint-Jorioz have confirmed to police that the three killed, and the two girls were ‘all part of a family-of-five’, said a detective.
He said that the family had been seen ‘swimming, relaxing, walking and generally enjoying themselves, just like any other family.’
A news website in France said investigators had begun inspecting a caravan used by the family at the campsite Le Solitaire du Lac, at Saint-Jorioz.
Journalists waited outside hoping for more information, but people staying there were saying little.
One woman said: ‘I saw the two women yesterday with the two little girls collecting apples. Everything seemed normal, but I didn’t know them.
‘It was the first year that they had been seen here. It is terrible. The atmosphere is heavy, nobody is speaking.’
The massacre took place in an area close to the Swiss and Italian borders. Nestled in hills next to Lake Annecy, in France’s Haute-Savoie region, it is a magnet for British holidaymakers.
She went to a local police station with a photograph of her husband. Officers quickly made the link and her husband was identified as the fourth victim. He found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, Mr Maillaud said.
One theory was that he saw the shooting and was killed to silence him.
The bloodbath was discovered by a second cyclist – a French local – who stumbled on the horror scene at 4pm (3pm UK time).
Some 15 spent bullet casings from an automatic pistol were found at the crime scene.
Armed police formed a ring of steel at the hospital to ensure no further harm came to the girl.
Last night, the cyclist who called police from his mobile phone was treated for severe shock and questioned by detectives.
Eric Maillaud, the investigating prosecutor from Annecy, said: ‘It is a dramatic crime scene like we see on the TV. We are employing all necessary means to investigate. Two men and two women are the victims. The car is a British-registered BMW estate.
Closed off: A firemen and rescue vehicle is driven on the road leading to the grisly scene
‘One of the male victims was a cyclist. He was found near his bike in his cycling gear. The other man was in the driving seat of the car. The two women were in the back of the car. There is a large number of gun cartridges at the crime scene.’
Didier Berthollet, mayor of Chevaline, said that ‘the victims were not from the village’, adding that locals had told police they had seen a car speeding past between 3pm and 4pm.
At least 60 policemen sealed off the area and a helicopter was circling overhead. There were no reports that anyone had been arrested.
Police also questioned villagers about reports a motorbike was heard speeding away from the scene.
The motive for the carnage remained a mystery last night.
The ferocity of the attack – and the apparent attempt to leave no witnesses – suggested it may have been the work of a professional assassin.
Another theory is that it was a heist, but armed robberies of holidaymakers are not considered a problem in the area.
The attack took place close to Doussard, which is hugely popular with British holidaymakers during the summer months.
Police have not yet confirmed the nationalities of the deceased, but they are thought to be from the UK because of the BMW’s registration plates.
A spokesman for the Foreign Office in London said: ‘We are aware of the reports of the shooting and we are looking into these urgently.’
The Paris embassy was also liaising with the police in Britain.
Experts from the national gendarmerie’s IRCGN unit were expected to collect DNA samples, shells left at the scene for ballistics analysis and check for traces of other vehicles that may have been at the scene.
No weapons were found at the scene, but gendarmes said that all the victims had been shot. The cartridges at the scene indicate that the gunshots came from outside the vehicle.
The crime scene was ‘frozen’ while gendarmes waited for a specialist forensic team. The bodies were taken to the town of Grenoble for autopsies.
Up to 500,000 Britons pass through the Annecy area each year, either on their way to winter ski holidays, or to enjoy summers around the lakes and mountains.
France tightened its laws on illegal firearms earlier this year, amid a worrying rise in the use of guns by criminals.
In July, a gunman using an assault rifle shot dead two people and injured five after being turned away from a nightclub in Lille.
In March, self-styled Al-Qaeda terrorist Mohammed Merah killed four people at a Jewish school and three soldiers in southern France. He was killed after a 32-hour siege in Toulouse.
Video: French police investigate family’s campsite
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2198777/Lake-Annecy-shooting-French-Alps-Girl-4-ALIVE–murdered-father-named-Saad-Al-Hilli.html#ixzz25hFiqew5