French investigators arrived in Britain on Friday to search the U.K. home of a British-Iraqi couple slain in the French Alps.
LONDON — French and British police searched the U.K. home of a British-Iraqi couple slain while vacationing in the French Alps, as it emerged Saturday that all four people killed in the attack took two gunshots to the head.
Meanwhile, relatives arrived in France to help care for the couple’s two surviving daughters, one of whom was badly wounded.
Questions remained about potential motive for the killings as well as the identity of one victim, an elderly woman found dead in the couple’s bullet-riddled BMW. Police have said they are probing reports of a financial dispute between the slain husband and his brother, but emphasize they were following all leads. The brother has denied any dispute.
The identity of the dead couple — mechanical-design engineer Saad al Hilli and his wife, Ikbal — was based partly on the testimony of their 4-year-old daughter Zeena, who survived unhurt by hiding under her mother’s skirt as some 25 automatic-handgun rounds were fired at the family car.
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Her older sister, 7-year-old Zaina, was badly wounded in the attack and is in a medically induced coma. Aside from the elderly woman shot dead in the car, French cyclist Sylvain Mollier, 45, whom authorities suspect was in the wrong place at the wrong time, was also killed in Wednesday’s rampage.
French prosecutor Eric Maillaud, based in Annecy near the site of the killing, told a news conference there Saturday that each of the dead was shot twice in the head — one more time than previously stated — in addition to an undisclosed additional number of times elsewhere.
Autopsies on the bodies were completed late Friday, Maillaud said, adding that the bodies of the victims will be returned to their family “as soon as possible.”
Maillaud remained tight-lipped throughout Saturday’s news conference, saying he was “at the limits” of what he could publicly disclose. But he confirmed that France has asked Italy and Switzerland to assist in the hunt for whoever is responsible for the shootings, which took place just a short drive from the borders of both countries.
French investigators arrived in Britain on Friday night, and police on Saturday snapped pictures of the al Hilli home in the village of Claygate, a London suburb in the county of Surrey. Some officers entered the house in protective suits, while other carried boxes with equipment and evidence bags into an investigation tent erected outside.
Authorities in Britain, too, revealed few details. The French police who had traveled to Surrey spoke only to praise cooperation with their U.K. counterparts in what they described as a long and complex investigation. Surrey’s police force emphasized that the probe is French-led and the focus now is on the victims of the tragedy.
Maillaud has said investigators are looking forward to speaking to 7-year-old Zaina. Authorities have questioned her 4-year-old sister Zeena, but Maillaud has said much of her account was filled with “kids’ words.”
After learning about media reports that they may have been fighting over money, Saad al Hilli’s brother Zaid came forward to British police Friday and denied any conflict in the family, French prosecutors said.
But Mae Faisal El-Wailly, a childhood friend of the brothers, made available a letter written to her by Saad last year that alluded to a possible inheritance dispute. She said the brothers’ father had died recently, and she described the family as wealthy and well-traveled.