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Four children and their mother were found dead on Christmas Day in France

PARIS — Four children aged nine months to 10 years and their mother were killed in their apartment east of Paris, in what the local prosecutor called a crime of exceptional violence. Authorities said the children’s father was arrested Tuesday and was the main suspect.

Neighbors spotted a pool of blood outside the family’s door on Christmas Day and alerted police, who discovered the five bodies, prosecutor Jean-Baptiste Bladier told reporters in the town of Meaux.

The mother and her two daughters, aged 7 and 10, were stabbed several times during the night from Sunday to Monday, he said. The couple’s two sons, aged 9 months and 4 years, were suffocated or drowned. The prosecutor described a small, bloodstained apartment in extreme disorder.

The motive for the killings was unclear. The suspect, a 33-year-old man born in Colombes, a Paris suburb, was arrested Tuesday in front of his father’s home, northeast of the French capital, the prosecutor said.

The suspect had already stabbed his partner once when she was pregnant with their eldest son in 2019, but the investigation was abandoned because he had been declared mentally ill at the time of the attack, the prosecutor said. The suspect was placed in a psychiatric hospital in 2017 and also attempted suicide that year, the prosecutor said.

The couple had been together for 14 years and had known each other since high school, Bladier said.

No names of family members have been released, in accordance with French law protecting minor victims of crime.

Authorities are opening an investigation into five homicides and the suspect will undergo a psychiatric examination to determine next steps, the prosecutor said.

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