Four children and their mother murdered in France

December 27, 2023 - 2:31 PM
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Bunches of flowers are placed on the fence, in front of the ground floor flat where the bodies of a woman and her four children where discovered, in Meaux, northeast of Paris, France, December 26, 2023. (Reuters/Benoit Tessier)

Police in France on Tuesday arrested a man suspected of murdering his wife and four children in a knife attack early on Christmas Day, a public prosecutor said.

Their bodies were found on Monday night in a bloodied apartment in the town of Meaux, 40 km (25 miles) northeast of Paris.

Local prosecutor Jean-Baptiste Bladier said the mother and two daughters had been stabbed so many times it was impossible to determine how many blows they had received. The family’s two younger sons appeared to have been suffocated or drowned.

Police detained the children’s father, 33, at his residence in a nearby town on Monday night. The prosecutor has opened a murder investigation.

The children were aged between 9 months and 10 years. Neighbors told investigators they had heard screams during the early hours of Christmas Day. The alarm was raised later in the day after they failed to get any response from the family.

The husband had a history of mental illness, the prosecutor said. In 2019, he assaulted his wife with a knife. She did not press charges and the case was dropped due to his mental health at the time.

Investigators found medical documents and prescriptions for anti-depressants in the family flat, the prosecutor said.

— Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Richard Lough; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Angus MacSwan