Family of missing twins' father 'distressed' at his actions

11th February 2011, Comments 0 comments

The family of the dead father of missing Swiss twins spoke for the first time Friday of their distress at his "terrible" actions, after police revealed his trip to Corsica with the girls was carefully planned.

"We have been following the events of the last few days with great distress and worry," the parents, brother and sister of Matthias Schepp said in a statement e-mailed to the Swiss news agency ATS.

"We all agree and are persuaded that our brother could have committed in recent times acts that are so terrible due only to a serious mental disorder and the loss of his normal personality," they added.

"We have all suffered because of his death and the terrible and uncertain fate of our two nieces and granddaughters."

The family of the mother have said Schepp suffered from a split personality. Swiss newspaper 24 heures reported that he had been receiving psychiatric help, although there were no signs he presented a danger for his daughters.

Police in Switzerland, France and Italy have been searching for signs of the twins after Schepp failed to return the fair-haired girls to his estranged wife in Switzerland on January 30. He was found dead in southern Italy four days later.

The father of missing twins consulted websites on suicide, poisoning and firearms as well as travel to Corsica, Swiss police revealed on Thursday after examining his computer. However, no guns have been found.

"We are dealing with someone who was extremely meticulous and who planned a certain number of things, including his trip to Corsica," a spokesman for Vaud regional police, Jean-Christophe Sauterel, told journalists late Thursday.

"We have more and more elements that show the presence of the twins on Corsican soil," he said, as the search focused on the French Mediterranean island.

Witnesses have come forward to say that they had seen the two six-year-olds on board a ferry between the southern French port of Marseille and Corsica with their father, while Schepp later returned to the French mainland.

Sauterel said the father appeared to have travelled to places where he holidayed with his wife and children, including Corsica and the south Italian coastal village of Vietri sul Mare where he was spotted shortly before he killed himself on Thursday last week.

Investigators have found that Schepp returned from Corsica to the French port of Toulon, but there were no sightings of the children.

Swiss police have refused to reveal the contents of a letter he sent from Toulon, which was stamped February 2, the day before he died more than 1,000 kilometres away in the southeastern Italian village of Cerignola.

Sauterel would only say that it was a "message from a desperate person".

The mother, Irina Lucidi, left her home in the western Swiss lakeside village of St-Sulpice on Thursday. Both sides of the family have asked not to be disturbed.

© 2011 AFP

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