A mother and her four young children were murdered in their home in a town near Paris, in what local police called a “very violent” Christmas crime.
The bodies of the family members were found on Christmas Day in their apartment in Meaux, France, the AFP news agency and the Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors said the main suspect was the children’s 33-year-old father and he was arrested Tuesday.
Neighbors alerted police after spotting a pool of blood outside the family’s door, and officers later discovered the bodies, prosecutor Jean-Baptiste Bladier told reporters.
He said the 35-year-old mother and her two daughters, aged 7 and 10, were stabbed to death and two boys, a 4-year-old and a 9-month-old baby, were suffocated or drowned.
“The mother and the two daughters received a very large number of stab wounds,” declared the prosecutor, quoted by AFP.
“The human toll is appalling, an entire family was killed, stabbed in atrocious conditions,” the mayor of Meaux, Jean-François Copé, told the AP. “It’s an absolute horror.”
The suspect had known his wife since high school and they had been together for 14 years, but this apparently was not the first instance of violence.
Citing the prosecutor, the BBC reported that the suspect attacked his wife with a knife in 2019, a month before she gave birth to their third child. This case was dropped. When arrested following his family’s murders, the man told police he “knew why he was arrested” and “talked about his unhappiness and depression,” Bladier said. The suspect was also seen with injuries to his hand.
The prosecutor said the man would undergo psychiatric examinations.
Neighbor Maissa Ketfi told the AP that the mother was “fighting for her children.”
“She never complained and one day we find out,” she said Tuesday. “Last night we all had a big knot in our stomachs when we found out. We were terrified, four children and the youngest was nine months old. We can’t even imagine the scene.”
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