A 4-year-old British girl was found huddled in the back of a car with the dead bodies of her family, immobilized with fear, for eight hours, as French police guarded the vehicle, unaware she was still alive.
The Associated Press reports French police say the girl was found hiding under the legs of her murdered mother following a shooting rampage that left four people dead and an 7-year old girl in critical but stable condition in hospital with a fractured skull. They were discovered in or near a BMW, in a remote area near the village of Chevaline in the French Alps. A French newspaper says the older girl had not been shot but had been brutally beaten and left for dead.
Police believe the family had been vacationing at a nearby campground and say the victims are believed to be the little girl's parents and her grandmother, and the 7-year old is believed to be the girl's older sister. But investigators are not saying yet, what they believe led to the killings.
A cyclist discovered the scene early Wednesday, a man's body in the front seat of the car, two women in the back seat, a dead cyclist with no known connection to the family nearby and the 8-year old girl also found near the car.
Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud says he doesn't know how the surving girl wasn't found earlier. "We discovered a little 4-year-old girl that no one noticed earlier because she wasn't moving. Probably terrified, she was completely immobile among the bodies. She was later examined and she is doing okay. She is in a hospital but her life is not threatened despite going through a tragedy by losing her family in such atrocious conditions."
Several hours later, when Paris forensic investigators arrived and opened the car door and the little girl smiled and reached out her arms. Maillaud says she was speaking English but couldn't say what had happened. "She could not tell the difference between the good guys and bad guys. She spontaneously began to smile and speak when the policeman took her in his arms and pulled her out of the car." "The little girl spoke English. She had heard the noises, the cries but she couldn't say more, she is only four years old."
The dead cyclist was identified as a 45-year-old father of three, after his wife reported him missing. Maillaud says, "A woman was worried because her husband went to cycle in this area and didn't come back home." "He was just cycling in that area and got killed along with this British family."
The Telegraph says there are reports of two attempted carjackings by an armed gang, 50 miles away, on the same night. France's Europe 1 radio says a police source suggests that the family either fell victim to an armed robbery or that they interrupted a drug deal taking place.