A French aristocrat suspected of murdering his wife and four children before disappearing without trace has been arrested in Glasgow , it has been claimed.
Xavier Dupont de Ligonnès has not been seen since just after the slaughter back in April 2011.
He went on the run after the bodies of Agnes, 49, and children Tomas, 21, Arthur, 18, Anne, 16, and Benoit, 13, were found buried in the garden of the family house in Nantes, western France, along with their two pet Labradors.
On Friday night French media outlets reported that De Ligonnès had been arrested at Glasgow Airport following a flight from Paris.
“He was travelling under a false identify and had changed his appearance completely,” said an investigating source.
“He did not try and resist arrest, but information corresponded with what is on a Europol search card. It is now being double checked. He is now in the hands of Scottish police.”
Europol is the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation which has helped in the eight-year hunt for De Ligonnès.
Last year police searched underground caves and abandoned potassium mines in the area around Roquebrune-sur-Argens, in the south of France, where De Ligonnès was spotted by a CCTV camera in April 2011.
He had fled Nantes a few days earlier after neighbours reported not having seen any of the family for more than three weeks.
Detectives who visited initially found a severed leg under the garden terrace, and then uncovered the bodies of those who had been killed.
De Ligonnès originally came from Versailles, home of the pre-Revolutionary kings and queens of France, and was technically a count who could trace his lineage back generations.
In confiscated emails he said that he considered himself to be part of a Roman Catholic elite which was superior to ‘the masses’.
“I think I’ve got a superiority complex, you could call it that,” he wrote. “But it’s based on a simple observation: I belong to a group of people who are intelligent, determined, balanced and in good moral and physical health. Such people are rare compared to the masses.”
Recalling his strict, devout childhood, De Ligonnès added: “All my adolescence was devoted to religion and faith, under the influence of my grand-mother and mother. To such an extent that I did not rebel like other adolescents, nor indulge in drugs or run after girls.”
De Ligonnès was last seen on April 15 2011 when he left a budget hotel at Roquebrune-sur-Argens, abandoning his car there.
He was wearing a backpack as he strolled through a car park into the surrounding countryside, and was picked up by a camera.
An extensive search was carried out in the area between April and June 2011 and – acting on new information – police resumed it last year, but found nothing.
There was a theory that De Ligonnès may have committed suicide in the days after the slaughter, in which case police were searching for remains of his body.
However, prosecutors had never ruled out the possibility that De Ligonnès was living rough, or else is being hidden by members of his extended family, who own country homes around France.
De Ligonnès’s ancestors, who included the 19th Century poet Lamartine, originally lived in a southern province of France called the Rouergue.
Five months before the murders, De Ligonnès said he had inherited a .22 rifle from his father and started target practice at a Nantes shooting club.
Receipts found in his house also reveal that he bought a silencer, as well as a spade, a two-wheel trolley, chalk lime, and other equipment which could have been used to bury the bodies.
It also emerged that De Ligonnès, who ran a number of internet businesses, had severe financial difficulties. Among those he had been asking for money was a mistress in Paris.