Switzerland: Police investigate after family jump from balcony

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In the early hours of March 24, police had been called to reports that five members of the same family had fallen from their apartment balcony in Montreux, on Lake Geneva. Police in the Vaud canton said yesterday (Wednesday) that they now favour a “hypothesis of collective suicide” after finding the family was “very interested in conspiracy and survivalist” theories.

The five family members – a husband, aged 40, and his wife, 41, her twin sister, an 8-year-old girl and a teenage boy – are believed to have leapt from the 7th-storey balcony.

Four of the family members died of their injuries. The boy was hospitalised in a serious condition, but two months on is now “out of danger”.

According to Monaco Matin, a Monegasque newspaper, investigators found a step ladder on the balcony from where the family fell.

Police said that two gendarmes had visited the apartment with orders to arrest the father concerning the son’s home schooling.

After knocking on the door, police in Vaud said a voice asked them who was outside, but fell silent after they announced who they were.

Unable to speak to the occupants, the gendarmes left the premises. But in the meantime, a witness had called the police to report the family falling.

Authorities said that, analysis of the family’s phone and internet searches revealed “no warning sign of such a passage to the act, which was also confirmed by the son”, who had spoken to police.

He has several fractures and is still hospitalised.

The son “currently has no memory of the day of the tragedy and could not give any indication of the course of events”, police said.

Forensic examination of the bodies found no traces of violence, and DNA evidence could not rule out the possibility of suicide.

Having concluded their investigations, the theory of a mass suicide “remains privileged” over others.

They were able to confirm that “the family lived withdrawn from society with no connection to the outside world”.

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The force added: “All of these elements suggest, among the members of this family, the fear of interference by the authority in their lives.”

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the family was said to be fascinated with conspiracy theories and survivalism.

They had built up an “impressive” stock of food occupying most rooms in the apartment, and the family “live in virtual self-sufficiency, withdrawn from society”.

Only the mother’s sister worked outside the family home.

Police said that the mother and the girl had announced their intention to leave for Morocco in April 2016, and were “not supposed to live in Montreux”.

Neither the mother nor the daughter were registered and, as such, the latter had not been schooled.

The entire family were French nationals.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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