Tragic Details In The Unsolved 2012 Mass Murder Of The Al-Hilli Family

On the afternoon of Wednesday, September 5, 2012, a bicyclist was riding through the Chevaline, Haute-Savoie, region of France, near Lake Annecy, when he saw a BMW stopped on the road with the engine still running. As reported by Mirror, the man stopped and was horrified to find a young girl, who was clearly injured, standing outside the vehicle. When the girl collapsed on the ground at his feet, he immediately called authorities.

As the man approached the BMW, he found another bicyclist, who had been shot dead, on the ground near the car. When he looked inside the car, he was stunned to find all four occupants had been shot and were also dead.

After a preliminary examination of the scene, authorities reported four people were shot and killed, including one man and two women inside the vehicle and a male bicyclist. The young girl found outside the vehicle, who was determined to be 7 years old, survived the shooting, but was in critical condition. A 4-year-old girl, who was found hiding under the body of an adult inside the vehicle, was also alive and had not suffered any physical injuries.

Mirror reports the victims were eventually identified as 50-year-old Saad al-Hilli, his 47-year-old wife Iqbal, Iqbal's 74-year-old mother, and Saad and Iqbal's daughters, 7-year-old Zainab and 4-year-old Zeena. The cyclist was identified as 45-year-old Sylvain Mollier.

Authorities identified several persons of interest in the brutal attack

As reported by Mirror, authorities concluded the victims were shot with a semi-automatic pistol. Although the weapon was not found at the scene, law enforcement officials recovered at least 15 bullet cartridges from inside and outside the vehicle. Authorities noted the victims inside the vehicle were all shot in the head. Zainab, 7, suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder and had also been severely beaten about the head. Detectives also found markings on the road that suggested the driver of another vehicle had slammed on the brakes near the scene.

SurreyLive reports authorities identified several persons of interest in the brutal attack, but nobody was ever charged or convicted in the murders. In the weeks following the attack, law enforcement officials learned Saad al-Hilli and his brother, Zaid, had a tumultuous relationship, which became increasingly worse following the death of their father. Authorities said Zaid was specifically upset about property that was previously owned by his father and was currently occupied by Saad and his family.

According to SurreyLive, Zaid had a solid alibi for the day his brother and his family were attacked. However, authorities believed it was possible that someone else committed the murders at his request. Although Zaid was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder, he was ultimately released without being charged due to a lack of evidence. Zaid has vehemently denied any involvement in the brutal murders.

The persons of interest included a man known only as 'Mr. S'

Another person of interest in the al-Hilli family murders was a motorcyclist seen near the scene of the crime. Several witnesses said the man, who had a goatee and was wearing what was described as "an unusual helmet," was in the area at the time the family was killed and may have been involved or witnessed something vital to the investigation.

As reported by SurreyLive, authorities eventually identified the motorcyclist as a 57-year-old French man. Although his identity was never made public, law enforcement officials said the man was questioned and ultimately "ruled out" as a suspect.

Authorities also identified a man known only as "Mr. S." as a person of interest in the brutal attack. SurreyLive reports "Mr. S" was an Iraqi prisoner who confessed to being offered "a large sum of money" to kill Iraqi people who had moved to the United Kingdom. 

According to Mirror, Saad al-Hilli moved to the United Kingdom with his family in the 1970s. A family friend, named James, said the al-Hilli family moved to the U.K. to avoid persecution by Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party, which had deemed the family's engineering business to be "unfavorable." Although "Mr. S," was determined to be a person of interest, he was never charged as there was no evidence he was involved in the attack on the al-Hilli family.

The al-Hilli family murders were never solved

As reported by The Guardian, authorities also suspected a former French legion officer of being involved in the attack on the al-Hilli family. Although he died by suicide in 2015, authorities believe he was a professional hitman, who fit the profile they compiled of the killer. However, law enforcement officials never disclosed any evidence linking him to the scene.

SurreyLive reports a prolific serial killer, named Nordahl Lelandais, was also considered a person of interest, as he was reportedly in the area where the family was killed. However, he was never arrested or charged in the brutal crime.

In 2022, authorities arrested a French man, whose name was not disclosed, in connection with the murders of the al-Hilli family. Although it was hoped that the case was finally solved, prosecutors confirmed the man was ultimately ruled out as a suspect.

According to SurreyLive, 7-year-old Zainab al-Hilli eventually recovered from the attack. She and her sister were eventually sent back to the United Kingdom, where they were provided with new identities for their safety and placed in foster care.

Nobody has ever been charged in the murders, and authorities have not released the names of any current suspects in the brutal attack. The question of who committed the crime, and why, remains a mystery.