Nearly ten years after the battered and bloodied bodies of a British-Iraqi family and a French cyclist were found on a forest road in the French Alps, a local police officer has been arrested, according to local French media.
On Sept. 5, 2012, Saad Al-Hilli, 50; his wife, Iqbal, 47; and her mother, Suhaila Al-Allaf, 74 were found riddled with bullets inside their locked burgundy BMW that had been forced off a lonely road near Chevaline, by Lake Annecy. The family had been camping nearby and left the campsite for an Alpine drive. Several reports suggest that someone visited them at the campsite, but it is unclear who that might have been.
The murder took place after the school year had started, adding a curious twist as to why the family was on holiday when school was in session. Reports of secret bank accounts and family disputes further added to the intrigue.
The body of French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, lay lifeless outside the car, though authorities said he had no link to the family.
Mollier is thought to have stumbled upon the murder scene. Due to his work as a researcher in the nuclear industry, however, several people were interrogated about secrets he may have harbored that could have made him the target of an attack.
The Al-Hilli’s two young daughters, aged 4 and 7, survived. The oldest child, Zainab, had been pistol-whipped and shot in the shoulder—she was found alive outside the locked car. The youngest child, Zeena, was found in shock at her slain mother’s feet in the backseat.
In a strange twist, Mrs. Al-Hilli’s first husband—an American dentist, died of a heart attack the exact same day in the U.S., though no links between the two incidents have ever been established.
Thousands of people were investigated in the United Kingdom, France and Iraq, where Al-Hilli had loose links to Saddam Hussein’s regime. Al-Hilli’s brother was detained briefly in 2013 when news emerged that there had been a dispute over family inheritance, but he was later released.
For years, the cold case seemed all but unsolvable until Wednesday when French police arrested a local police officer. Public prosecutor Line Bonnet confirmed the arrest at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, refusing to give details that were protected by a judicial gag officer. French media reported that the suspect was a married man who had retired from the police force several years ago and who had been questioned as a witness after the quadruple murder.
This story is developing.