PONT-DE-BUIS-LES-QUIMERCH, France (AFP) - The mother of Pascal Troadec, the Frenchman who was brutally murdered along with his family two weeks ago, spoke out on Thursday (March 9) about the gold treasure that she thinks motivated the slaughter.
"This gold shattered everything," the 76-year-old widow told Thursday's Le Parisien daily.
She said her late husband found a cache of gold coins and ingots in 2006 while renovating an apartment in the northwestern port of Brest.
He took the gold, "perhaps stolen from the Bank of France" during World War II, and hid it in the couple's garage, said the woman, who declined to give her first name.
It was the year after her husband died in 2009 that she said her son Pascal Troadec helped himself to the gold while she was in hospital, adding that he had "robbed his sister" Lydie.
Pascal later told the family he had invested the gold in Monaco and Andorra, tauntingly adding that they "couldn't touch it", his mother said.
Soon afterwards, Pascal and his wife Brigitte - whom Lydie's partner Hubert Caouissin has admitted killing along with their children Charlotte and Sebastien - began flaunting their new lifestyle, sending postcards from their holiday travels.
Eventually, it was too much for Caouissin, who later told investigators of his anger over the gold.
Investigators found traces of blood and efforts to clean them up throughout the two-storey house where Pascal and Brigitte, both 49, lived in a suburb of the western city of Nantes.
In his confession, Caouissin said he killed the couple, as well as their children Charlotte, 18, and Sebastien, 21, with a crowbar.
The sudden disappearance of Pascal's family on Feb 16 left France on tenterhooks as investigators scrambled for clues.
Caouissin and Lydie Troadec were quizzed for nearly 21 hours at the start of the probe, when Caouissin told investigators he had fallen out with the family over the dispute.
But initial suspicions centred on Sebastien Troadec, who had a history of psychological troubles.
The focus shifted after traces of Caouissin's DNA were found at the Troadecs' home in suburban Nantes and then in Sebastien's car, abandoned in the port of Saint-Nazaire about an hour's drive to the west.
Meanwhile, Caouissin's mother told Le Parisien that the claims about a gold treasure were "nonsense".