Missing twins' dad surfed poison, gun sites

2011-02-11 09:31
Italian rangers show the pictures of six-year-old twin girls, Alessia and Livia Schepp, outside the Cerignola Station in southern Italy. (Giovanni Marino, AFP)

Italian rangers show the pictures of six-year-old twin girls, Alessia and Livia Schepp, outside the Cerignola Station in southern Italy. (Giovanni Marino, AFP)

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Geneva - The father of missing twins consulted websites on suicide, poisoning and firearms before travelling to Corsica with the two girls and was later seen returning alone, sources said on Thursday.

Shortly before the twins' disappearance on January 30, Matthias Schepp had surfed websites detailing information on how to take a ferry to the French island of Corsica and others discussing suicide, Swiss agency ATS said.

"We cannot exclude that there was preparation," police spokesperson Jean-Christophe Sauterel said, although he would not confirm the contents of investigations of a computer belonging to the father.

The revelation came as a police source said that Schepp apparently returned alone to the French mainland on February 1. Twins Alessia and Livia were earlier seen by witnesses on board a ferry between Marseille and Corsica.

The twins' uncle, Valerio Lucidi, spoke of "terrible premeditation" on the part of Schepp and described the latest news of alleged traces found on the computer as "very very worrying".

According to ATS, traces that Schepp had browsed the sites were found on his work computer which was on his table, although the files had been erased.

Relatives meanwhile indicated that due to "media pressure" the mother left St-Sulpice, where she lived together with the twins, for an undisclosed location on Thursday afternoon.

A three-country search for the twins had been launched after Schepp failed to return the fair-haired girls to his estranged wife on January 30, having thrown himself under a train in southeastern Italy.

Helicopters deployed

Earlier on Thursday, Swiss police said they had halted their ground search for the girls, and would shift the focus of their probe after witnesses confirmed the girls had been last seen in France.

"Everything about concrete searches on the ground has been stopped," said Sauterel.

"All that could be done in our view, has been done today," he added.

Swiss police had deployed helicopters, dogs and teams of inspectors to scour areas close to the village of St Sulpice, in western Switzerland.

The spokesperson said that police were now working on "understanding what has happened... to find places where the father liked to go to with his daughters".

He added that it was "essential to reconstruct the journey taken by the father in order to find the girls".

The mother of the twins, Irina Lucidi, made an emotional plea on Italian television on Wednesday, urging viewers to contact the police if they had any information that could bring an end to her ordeal.

"I appeal to whoever has seen them or knows something to contact the police", an emotional Irina Lucidi said on a RAI 3's primetime show.

Read more on:    sweden  |  france
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