Unsolved Mysteries (2020-…): Season 1, Episode 3 - House of Terror - full transcript

When an aristocrat and his entire family disappear, the authorities unearth something horrifying.

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I saw the house all closed up.

I’ve always seen that house
with the shutters open.

It was a shock.

I knew something
terrible had happened.

They seemed
like a normal family.

Totally normal.

But no one really knows
what goes on behind closed doors.


Nantes is a large French city,

situated in the west of France
on the Atlantic coast.

It really is a city of culture.

Life is fairly peaceful,

very quiet.

In the middle of the town
there's a residential neighborhood,

where you see upper
middle-class people.

They take care of their children
who go to school nearby.

They also go to
church a lot, to mass.

It’s fairly peaceful.

And then...

the Dupont de Ligonnès
murders happened.


The story is an enigma
that perplexes everyone,

with lots of mystery.

It’s something that

no one saw coming.

That such events took place...

is unthinkable.

We’re on Shuman
Boulevard in Nantes,

across from number 55.

That's where the
drama took place.

It’s a house where, after 2011,

people slowed down or stopped

to see what we call

the House of Horror.

It still...

haunts everyone who knew the
family, you know?

I know the family
because they moved into a house

at 55 Shuman Boulevard.

I moved to number 61 in 1992,

and they brought
some work in for me.

I did alterations for the children,
for Agnès.

And I ironed the
husband's shirts.

I saw the family regularly.

I’d see Agnès picking up the children
from school daily.

I watched them pass
the store every day.

So it was a really
lively, busy house.

There are four
children, two parents.

The father,
Count Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès,

he's a businessman
who'd had some success.

He's comfortable communicating with people
and quick to laugh.

The pretty mother, Agnès,
works in a Catholic school.

They have four
beautiful children.

Arthur, the eldest.

Arthur is a very
handsome young man.

He's 20 at this time

and goes to a private
Catholic college.

There's Thomas, who's 18.

He's a shy boy.

He studies musicology.

He's passionate,
crazy about music.

Anne is 16.

She's a very pretty young girl.

She models for
mail order catalogs.

A very good student.

She's the best student
of all the children.

She's at a private Catholic school
called La Perverie.

The same high school as Benoît.

Benoît is the last
and is 13 years old.

He's crazy about drums.

He plays the
drums all the time.

So, that makes
a lot of noise in the house.

And there you are.

Seemingly, a golden family.

One day,

I sensed something
that troubled me.

It was a Monday
afternoon at two p.m.

when I saw the
house was closed up.

I passed in front of the house
and I saw this note on the mailbox,

that said to stop
leaving mail there.

And then I saw
the closed shutters.

I said, “That’s
so weird.”

I just felt that
something was wrong.

The shutters were always open.

Even when they went on vacation,

they were always open.

Tuesday, I went back to work,
and it was the same. It hadn't changed.

Wednesday morning, I went to work,
and obviously nothing had changed.

I kept asking myself,
“Where are they?”

And so, I called the police.

When the police arrive,
it's the local police.

It's just a home visit

to make sure nothing out of the ordinary
is taking place inside the house.

The front door is locked.

The shutters are closed.

They have to call a locksmith
to open the door.

And there, they find that basically
everything in the house is in its place.

There are some bedrooms
where the sheets have been removed.

Some closets are open.

All of that seems
totally normal.

So, the police feel
that the residents have left voluntarily.

There's nothing out of the ordinary
which would necessitate

launching a formal
police investigation.

But some of the cars were still there,
except the C5.

And they couldn't
all leave in a C5.

It was impossible.

With the bags, six
people, and the dogs.

I don't know, but if you think about it...
It's obvious, you know.

The police were staring at me
and listening like they thought,

"What has she
been smoking?"

And then, several letters had been sent
by Xavier and Agnès.

They had been sent
to friends and relatives.

The letters explain that...

"Okay, well, as you know,
I've had links with the US...

The Americans have recruited me

to infiltrate an
international drug ring.

This will be hard.
You won’t see us for a long while...

as we're going to change identity,
be under protection,

and won't be
reachable at all.”

In fact, he was a spy
for the US drug squad, the DEA.

And bizarrely, this letter comes
from Xavier and Agnès Dupont de Ligonnès.

Xavier is well-known,

and Agnès has a
Bible study group.

She goes to mass on Sundays.

They're not the type to lie.

So, they are actually
spies for the DEA.

It's simply baffling.


It's classic Xavier de Ligonnès.

“Hey, everybody!

Hello, everybody...

Big surprise!
We've been transferred to the US.”

That’s totally Xavier.
I can hear his voice.

The traffic is insane, huh?

I met Xavier here in Versailles,

in the mid-1970s.

I’ve known him since
we were 16-years-old.

We became best
friends right away.

We were neighbors...

on Avenue Maréchal Foch where...

where Xavier lived
and where I lived.

The first floor
with the room of Xavier on the right.

Versailles remains the city
of the palace of King Louis XIV.

The city of the Sun King.

And many aristocratic Catholic families
still remain.

We were all from that world.

Meaning we were all nobles.

And Xavier didn’t come
from just any noble family.

Xavier's family
was very prestigious.

Xavier's father was a count.

He was the Count
Dupont de Ligonnès.

In this family
there had been musketeers,

a castle in the
center of France,

the signet ring
with the family’s coat of arms,

with the... family motto.

All that is very important.

Especially to Xavier.

He met Agnès in the early 80s.

He was a handsome guy of 20.

She fell crazy in love with him.
She was 16 or 17.

Agnès was a beautiful woman.

She was very traditional,
very... conservative.

And Xavier introduced me to her
and they were together and in love.

But Xavier longed for adventure.

He wanted to seek new horizons,

and Xavier broke up with Agnès.

Xavier left to go traveling.

And then, one year later,

when Xavier
returned to Versailles,

he found Agnès pregnant
by someone else.

To my great surprise,

he chose to marry Agnès
and keep her baby.

That is, to adopt him
and give him his name:

Arthur Dupont de Ligonnès.

Which in Versailles,
you just didn’t do.

You didn’t marry
an unwed mother,

a girl who had had a baby
outside of marriage.

I found that very...

very courageous of Xavier
to take that initiative.

And then they built a family.

They were beautiful.
Not your everyday family.

They were aristocrats, nobles,

with the values of Versailles
and a lot of love.

And this noble family man,

who's writing this
eight-page letter,

claims to be a
"spy" for the DEA.

But because he’s
such an exceptional man,

the readers’
first reaction was...


But Agnès’ family sent the letter
to the Nantes district attorney saying,

“Listen, he's saying...
all kinds of strange things.

Agnès would never have left
with the children

without telling us
or giving us a call.”

The police return to the house

to do a more
thorough investigation.

The police find that photos are missing
from their frames,

like when someone leaves

and takes the pictures
that are dear to them.

But there's still absolutely
nothing suspicious in the house.

Agnès’ family was saying,

“Come on. A family
doesn’t disappear like that.”

It's her family
who put pressure on the police.

And each time,
they didn't observe anything unusual.

Until that last visit
on the 21st of April.

The police lieutenant finds something
odd under the terrace.

That same day, the
district attorney, Xavier Ronsin,

holds a press conference
at the courthouse to say,

"It's unusual
that this family has disappeared.

We’re opening an investigation
into a worrying disappearance.”

Then, suddenly, the district attorney
halts the press conference

and answers the phone.

When they were digging
under the terrace

they discovered plastic bags,

large trash bags
bound up with tape.


And then he came back.

The district attorney said,
"Look, we’re going to delay this.”

The press know something important
has happened.

Bodies were discovered
under the terrace of this house.

It's a discovery
that's unbelievably shocking.

They stumble onto
bodies, onto a massacre.

It's truly terrible.
It's really hard to take.

I'm watching it
live on a TV channel.

It's a horrible tragedy.

They'll find them all

wrapped in blankets and duvets,

then tied up and
put into plastic bags.

There's a small religious icon
next to each body:

a little candle, a cross.

That illustrates it's an imitation
of a religious burial.

It also shows there’s
an affectional bond

between the perpetrator
and the buried bodies.

It’s as though someone had carried out
a burial on Catholic ground.

Except it isn’t a cemetery,

it's under the
terrace in the garden.

And in these graves,

there are the bodies
of the mother, Agnès,

and three of the children:

Arthur, Benoît, and Anne.

Even the two dogs,
all in the same grave.

And in a separate grave,
the body of Thomas.

But one is missing.

Where is Xavier?

Is his body there?

Is it somewhere in the house?
In the basement? In the attic?

You have four children,

the mother, two
dogs, but no father.

And from that point forward,
Xavier became the prime suspect.

Having discovered that
Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès had disappeared

the investigating
judge issued a warrant

and sent it to
all member countries of Interpol.

This is known as an
international warrant.


For many friends, it's impossible
that Xavier is the murderer.

We know the individual,

we know the man,
and we know it’s not possible.

Where they found the bodies,
it’s very low down.

Between the ground and the balcony
it’s very low,

and Xavier had
terrible back pain.

He always complained
about his bad back,

which kept him from bending

it’s just technically impossible.

He couldn’t have dug holes
under that balcony.

If it’s not him,
it’s someone else.


It’s absolutely incredible.

And I don't believe it.

I don't believe it.
He's a true friend.

When I had my car
accident, he was there.

I broke my neck
and I couldn’t play music anymore.

I could no longer play
the piano or the guitar,

and he knew that, to me,
that was everything.

Without my having to say anything,
he knew my suffering and he knew my pain.

And above all else,
he helped me get through it all.

He was there to take
my hand, to tell me,

"You're my friend, I love you.

Don't worry, I'll
never let you down."

So, for me, he was a good guy.

He has the characteristics
of a father hen.

Like a mother hen, who...

sits on her eggs
and takes care of her children.

He's a father
who's very present.

He's very concerned
about his children.

Above all, he's tactile.

He hugs them. He
takes them in his arms.

Xavier loved his family.

It’s not possible that he could kill
his four children, his wife,

and to be a suspect
of such a heinous crime.

The main concern for investigators
is determining what happened.

How were the victims killed?
At what moment?

From the autopsy, we found
sleeping pills in the children’s viscera.

Meaning they were put to sleep.

Agnès didn’t have
drugs in her system,

but she had a sleep apnea machine
which helped her to sleep.

And Agnès’ apnea machine
stopped suddenly at three a.m.

on the morning of
the 3rd or 4th April.

It appears that
the first victim was the mother.

And then...

the children were killed.

Each victim was killed
by two bullets to the head.

The bullets extracted from the bodies
had been shot from a .22 long rifle.

Yet, the neighbors were not awoken
by any gun shots.

These are methodical executions.

They're all in their pajamas.

So they've all been
killed in their sleep.

But there’s an
incredible mystery.

There's no trace of
blood in the bedrooms.

There's no trace of blood
in the living room.

Nothing in the foyer...

in the bathroom.

Nothing on any walls,
any furniture, the ground.

In other words,
there's zero blood, five victims.

A total mystery,

where someone kills five people

in the same place,
the same house,

and leaves no trace.

And then, well,

when the crime scene investigators
take samples,

they don't find any fingerprints or
DNA from anyone.

There's still no absolute physical proof
implicating Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès.

Xavier was 50 years old,

had never had any
problems with the law,

and now he’s a
criminal mastermind.

This is Xavier
as head of the perfect family.

You see, Xavier...

was the heir to the family name.

It’s even more important
in light of what's happened,

because Xavier, by killing his three sons,
kills his lineage.

And for the aristocratic world,
for the French nobility, this is dreadful,

because you're
terminating a lineage.

This family gives the impression
of being wholesome,

an old family,
with children in private schools...

nice house, et cetera.

Anyway, they dig a little,
and Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès,

well, he doesn't lead the life
that he's pretending to.

In the early 2000s, they try
to relocate to the USA, to Florida.

But they don't succeed.

They thought it would be simple.

When, actually, it wasn't.

So they try that
before settling back in France.

Due to this failed
American Dream,

they've more or less
spent all their money.

The last ten years, 2001-2011,

he's in a downward
spiral of failure.

They lose a lot of money.

He's got bailiffs on his back.

Well, nothing but problems.

But he claims to be
a business owner,

that he's creating
successful companies,

that he's traveling all across France,
being a busy businessman, etc.

The truth is his companies
have never been really successful.

He knew that in a short while...

there would be no money left.

So, eventually,
he'll have to leave his house, etc.

This is going to be serious,
with severe consequences.

He was about to be found out...

to be someone unsuccessful.

He's vain, proud.

He doesn't want to lose face.

He doesn't want his children to find out
he's got no money, that he's ruined.

It's like he was on a mission...

to save his children
from disgrace,

from finding out their father didn't have
the life people thought he had.

He's looking for something
that could help materially...

to avoid these consequences.

Then, came the death of Xavier
Dupont de Logonnès' father, Hubert.

I was a neighbor of the count,
Xavier's father.

We lived in the same building.

That's how we came to know each other,
little by little.

January 20, 2011, I found out that Hubert
had died from a heart attack.

So, the apartment
had to be cleared out,

and Xavier tackled it,

namely, sorting through
his father's personal belongings.

What he was interested
in, apparently,

was to recover a ring
which had belonged to his father.

It was a count's ring.

A count's signet
ring, to be precise.

He tried to find out
if there was any money set aside.

Apparently, he
didn't find anything.

In fact, he told me
there wasn't anything.

So those words
came from Xavier's own mouth.

There was no money left.

There had, actually,
been big money problems for years.

In fact, the father, the count,
the end of his life was very sad:

illness, loneliness, poverty...

Near poverty, he
was no longer living in splendor.

It was a rented apartment.

And I think
that this failed life

is something that
profoundly resonates

in his feelings, possibly
in his thoughts.

And then, there's a second event,
critical to this case.

Xavier discovers
that there's no money,

but he does find a weapon.

A .22 caliber long rifle.

So, the last time I saw Xavier was
after clearing out his father's apartment.

There's a strange image
that's stayed with me.

It was the first time I saw him like that.
His expression was unusual.

When you know Xavier,

he was someone
very nice, smiley, pleasant.

But the last image I have of him
really is...

I found that very...

He had a dark look in his eyes.

Before inheriting
his father's rifle,

no one in his entourage says

that Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès
had any interest in weapons.

It's from the moment
he inherits this rifle from his father

that he learns how to shoot.

He even went to the shooting range
with two of his sons.

He posed a few questions
to his shooting instructor,

notably, on
the eventual use of a silencer.

Then, he bought a silencer.

A silencer to
fit the long rifle,

allowing him to shoot
in downtown Nantes

without alerting the neighbors.

There's a discovery,
a shocking one too,

that when they
dug under the terrace,

there's the body of
Agnès, the mother,

and the bodies of three of the children
in the same grave.

And you've got a grave next to it,
with Thomas' body inside.

Now, it seems that
Thomas wasn't killed

at the same time as his brothers
and sister and his mother.

The four children are there
both the Saturday and Sunday.

And, in fact,
Thomas has to leave

to go back to his
Catholic university,

and Xavier lets him go.

The massacre takes place
during the night of Sunday to Monday.

And on Tuesday, he tells him,

"Listen, you have to come back.

Your mother has
had a bicycle accident.

She's in hospital, in a coma.
We don't know if she'll come out of it.

It's very serious. You
have to come home."

So, on the Tuesday evening,
he goes back home.

The last we hear from Thomas
is at midnight

when he sends a text
message to a friend.

His friend gets back to him.
It's a little after midnight,

and that message
will remain unanswered.

The drug took
effect at that time.

Thomas was never seen again.

He very likely got killed
during the night of Tuesday to Wednesday

and buried in a separate grave.

So, why such an interval?

I do believe he
hesitated to kill him.

I think Arthur wasn't
his biological son.

Thomas was, so
he was the eldest.

So he was the heir,
the one who would bear the name,

be nobility.

The last one to carry it,
as there are no other sons in the family.

So, he must have hesitated.

As the bodies of the whole family
and the two dogs were discovered,

the police searched for Xavier
Dupont de Ligonnès, the prime suspect.

The date is April 21st,

and they haven't been seen
since April fourth.

So, nearly three weeks went by
without a search.

So the police searched hotels
and restaurants around France.

Very quickly, on April 22nd,

they find Xavier
Dupont de Ligonnès' car

in the parking lot
of a small Formule 1 hotel,

in Roquebrune-sur-Argens
in the south.

Once they find his car,

the police reconstruct the week
prior to the disappearances.

The massacre of the family took place
the nights of April third and fourth.

The police discover that Xavier
spent the whole week inside the house.

He was seen alone
by acquaintances from Nantes.

And then, they discover that...

one week after the murders,

Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès
took his car and left Nantes.

We know that because...

his car got flashed
by a speed camera...

between Nantes and La Rochelle.

Around noon, Xavier
would be located in a restaurant.

The credit card's time stamp
certifies this.

Then, in the evening,
at a hotel in La Rochelle.

The next day, he heads south.

He heads towards the southwest.

The police say that
he's gone on the run.

He's fleeing, a fugitive.

But he doesn't go
very fast. He's not...

hitting the road
to put hundreds of kilometers

between his house
and his destination.

Xavier Dupont de
Ligonnès isn't hiding.

He's withdrawing money
with his bank card.

We know that because we see him.

He goes to restaurants,
leaving bills, credit card receipts.

So, he doesn't care.

It's rather strange,

considering the amount of caution
and work around the crime scene,

to fool the investigators.

Now, we've got
an accumulation of evidence.

He doesn't want to hide.


Of course,

in the majority of cases
of family massacres,

when you're dealing with the slaughter
of a family, it's difficult.

Usually, the murderer
commits suicide

after having killed
his entire family.

The thought was
this is someone about to kill himself.

The police interpreted
it as a pilgrimage.

So no need to hide.

It's a farewell

to his past life,
to places where he had been happy.

All the southeast PACA area,

where he had lived with Agnès
during the first years of their marriage.

Some of his kids
were born there.

The years he spent in the south
were happy years...

which made people think
that he would end the story

where it had been so good.

The last known stop is

And there,

he spends the night
in a Formule 1 hotel.

They recover the...

CCTV images.

They discover an image

where he's crossing
the hotel parking lot...

carrying a bag.

At the bottom of
this sort of carryall...

clothes bag,
there's a long object.

So, the investigators think
he's got the rifle that killed his family

there, in the bag,
and he's disappearing with it.

He looks into the camera
and somehow is saying, "Goodbye".

What's in Roquebrune-sur-Argens?
Cliffs, a mountain.

Lots of things that make you think,
"Right, he killed his family,

so he hid in the rocks
and killed himself."

This image of a man walking away
with a rifle in a bag,

will convince the investigators

that he left for the backcountry
to commit suicide.

There's zone one
and zone two, so...

For weeks,

there are search
parties looking for him.

We're looking for traces of a
crossing or a body.

Clues, in fact.

Clues or a body, a corpse.

So they're looking in holes,
in rocks, in caves.

For two months, the first aid workers,
the gendarmes, the firemen,

searched every nook and cranny
with mountain guides.

No body was ever found.

They were certain
he had committed suicide.

And I believe he
fooled them all.

In these family crimes,
called familicide,

in 98% of cases,

the father, who's the murderer,
commits suicide on the spot.

Predictably enough, the investigators
thought that was the case.

They didn't think
he could be the one or two percent

of those who go on the run.

There's so much care,
work, organization

to deceive the investigators,

to buy time.

And it worked.

Like a chess player,
he had planned two things.

First, that it'd take as long as possible
before the bodies were found.

And then he thought,
"I need more time.

So, Roquebrune-sur-Argens,
a place I know well,

when they find out I've been there,
they'll search all the surroundings."

And that's what happened.
Xavier escaped.

We see a happy family.

A family...
That's what is...

That's what... How can I put it?
That's what appalls me and makes me angry.

How can you
decide that one day...

you'll strip your children
of their future?

How can you...

take people's lives?

How can you take people's lives?

That's totally inconceivable.


Nobody knows
what happened to him.

No plane ticket was
bought under his name,

no cars have disappeared,

no cars have been rented,

no train ticket has been purchased
under his name.

There isn't the slightest clue as to where
Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès could be.

You know, in this area,
you can take a boat.

The sea is 30 kilometers away.

You can take a cargo ship
in Fos, near Marseille.

You can take the
highway to go to Italy.

You can even take
the mountain paths to go to Italy.

You can board a train and go to Croatia
and start from there.

It's totally mind-blowing,

and that will turn him
into a master of disappearance.

Not of the perfect crime,
as the bodies will be found.

Even though I'm sure he believed
that they wouldn't be found in the garden.

But the perfect disappearance,

as to this day, years and years later,
he still hasn't been caught.

Now, we can agree
that there are a vast number of clues,

but we don't know
what really happened.

This case remains
unsolved, mysterious.

We'd all really like to find out
what happened

and where...

the main suspect involved in this case is,
that is, the father.

A lot of questions.

Seeing that house all closed up,
I was asking myself, "Where are they?"

Now the question is,
"Where can he be?"

I believe he's alive.

I think Latin America because

he's bilingual in English.
His English is very good.

His Spanish is pretty good,
so he would be at ease.

I think that he went to...

either Hamburg
or Tangiers to take a cargo ship.

And he went to Latin America,
Argentina, or you know.

He's got dark hair with dark eyes.
He can grow a beard, shave his head.

The problem in this case

is that Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès
looks a bit like everybody else,

with no strong features.

He's of average height.

Physically, he
doesn't stand out.

He's physically normal.

And there's nothing worse
in this kind of situation

than physically normal people,

because they stay unnoticed
or they draw too much attention.

You spot him everywhere
and nowhere at the same time.

My only question,
as he's still my friend,

is how can he look himself
in the mirror every night, every morning,

brushing his teeth,


and think about his children
who he loved.

Because he loved them.
A lot. He was a real father.

That, for me, is a mystery.

It's a big mystery.