One year and three weeks ago the fatal shooting of the Iraqi-born Brit Saad Al-Hilli, his wife and her mother, as well as that of Frenchman Sylvain Mollier took place in France on a lay-by in a forest near to a hamlet named Chevaline. The Al-Hilli couple’s eldest child, a daughter named Zainab, was also […]

One year and three weeks ago the fatal shooting of the Iraqi-born Brit Saad Al-Hilli, his wife and her mother, as well as that of Frenchman Sylvain Mollier took place in France on a lay-by in a forest near to a hamlet named Chevaline. The Al-Hilli couple’s eldest child, a daughter named Zainab, was also shot and she was also badly beaten over her head, but she survived.

Without it having been my intention I have started this on-line discussion about this foul slaughter of ‘innocent’ people which, alas, remains unsolved.

One of our commentators – Lars – has done a most informative summary of the case, known here in France as ‘L’Affair Chevaline’. You will find it here.   Do read it.

You will not be able to comment on any of the past 13 threads, but would have to come to comment here on this thread. I am sure you would want to come and talk to us about this slaughter.

You can also read down below what I’ve written about this case up to today and the very interesting comments by over 100 commentators.

here – September 6, 2012

here – September 8, 2012

here – October 25, 2012

here – November 7, 2012

here – December 9, 2012

here – March 3, 2013

here – April 20, 2013

here – May, 31, 2013

here – June 16, 2013

here  – July 1, 2013

here – July 17,2013

here – July 30, 2013

 here – September 2,1013

Saad Al-Hilli

Saad Al-Hilli



Marilyn Z. Tomlins


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  1. 519
    Marilyn Z. Tomlins Says:


    No, it is not Celeste, but *boss* Marilyn. And no, I am not back, but Celeste told me that you all want me to open a new thread. So here goes:


    I was thinking anyway that it would be good to open a new thread (our 15th) before September 5 is here as there may be quite a few comments then. There may be some new ‘revelations’, ‘interviews’, documentaries, who knows?

    Do continue to discuss this case. I am sure we are going to solve it.

    Have a nice commenting day anyway.

  2. 518
    partlucid Says:


    That’s an interesting angle Rashomon, and eloquently argued, although I can’t help thinking the investigators must surely have combed through people who might’ve held a grudge, either personal or ‘professional’, against both the Al-Hillis and SM. Your car-jacking/ robbery scenario does of course mask that to some extent…but surely the cops would’ve figured out whether there was a potential ‘shooter’ in any of the victims’ histories, no? Even allowing for the unseemly bias towards the Al-Hilli end of the investigation, that would still be extraordinarily inept of the police to overlook that, it seems to me…

    And on your point that the shooting appearing to be ‘personal’ to Sylvain: given our ballistics information vacuum, I think that’s a tough call. We don’t even know definitively how many bullets he took; I believe most accounts do favour 7, but I have also seen some persuasive reports for 5. He certainly received the killer’s signature two shots to the head, and reportedly also three shots to the back but I think it starts to get a bit hazy after that…

    ….and we also have no telling indication of the nature of his wounds either…ie…some of them could have been just grazes or to his limbs, both of which would necessitate further body shots…

  3. 517
    Rashomon Says:

    Did Sylvain sack Mr. Muscle?

    I was thinking about SM and why he was shot so many times, it seems so personal, whereas the SAH killings seem impersonal. Now this may be just that SM surprised the killer, allowing SAH to make a break for it, thus the killer gets enraged.

    However, another possibility occurred to me, perhaps it was connected to SM’s employment. As most readers are, I am sure, aware SM was on long term paternity leave from his job, described on Lars’ summary page as a “welder at Ugitech Ugine”.

    As a summary, that description is accurate, however it sells him short. Sylvain seems to have put in almost two decades of service at that business (which seems to have had a number of divisions or trading names). He certainly seems to have started as a regular shop floor worker, presumably gaining welding qualifications over time.

    At some point he took on supervisory responsibilities. I am guessing here that his progression was something along the lines of chargehand,
    team leader, backshift supervisor/manager etc.

    Early in my career, I had experience in an analagous industry and I understand the resentments that can build up when someone shifts sides as it were.

    One day he is one of the boys swinging the lead with his fellow cohort of apprentices, clocking his mates in when they are late or absent etc. A few short years later he is clamping down on the same crew. Inevitably, over that length of service, SM will have disciplined, or outright sacked, no small number of guys.

    A minority of men in that situation will harbour a serious grudge, they feel betrayed.

    What occurred to me was that SM could have interrupted a robbery or carjacking that day being carried out by one such guy. A disguise sufficient for tourists is not be good enough for someone who knows them well. He is recognised.

    Thwarted at every turn by SM, he goes berserk.

  4. 516
    partlucid Says:

    @Rashomon et al

    It’s an idea that’s had a slightly convoluted genesis.
    I was always puzzled why a ‘proper cyclist’ would take himself up that road – the beauty of it notwithstanding – because the surface looks so dreadful in Alex’s video. That is not a pleasant ride: either bumping over potholes, or having to keep your eyes peeled to avoid them. Then Lynda described Sylvain as a grimpeur, a climber. Ergo that hill AFTER Le Martinet, reportedly 2km of traffic-free climbing, became in my mind the thing he was primarily after. And it was then James, during a squabble over time lines, who figured out that it was just possible that Sylvain could arrive at the lay-by BEFORE the Al-Hillis…but of course Maillaud informs us, via Zainab, that the car park was empty when Saad’s BMW gets there.

    So logically…Sylvain has simply carried on, which is what any self-respecting climber would do, and attacked his climb. He was never actually making for Le martinet at all, and I actually don’t think that my elegant speculation of him seeking to be at the top of the Combe within an hour of leaving home/ Ugine is so fanciful. Remember that he’s reportedly ridden it often enough, and that 3.30 time target would also fit perfectly with the calculated window for the shootings…ie…five minutes or so to whizz back down and around the hairpin…

    But tough to ‘prove’ of course….

  5. 515
    rashomon Says:

    @ partlucid 10-2-2013 at 17:49:38

    partlucid, your notion that Sylvain may have been killed on his way back is becoming more interesting to me.

    I have struggled to work out how the murderer could have missed either of the parties. My thinking centered around acoustics and their precise field of view down the Combe d’Ire.

    This obviously favours SM being the overlooked party, yet this explanation still seemed contrived as it relies on the killer positioning themselves sub-optimally.

    So your suggestion that SM effectively surprised the killer by coming round the hairpin into their peripheral vision is interesting.

    Another variant could be if there were a confrontation between SM and the killer in the stretch of road just around the hairpin (ie above le Martinet). SM could have headed off down round the hairpin with the killer sprinting after him, shouting and firing. They both then run into the SAH party.

  6. 514
    Lynda Says:

    @Eugene, 18 or 112, I still favour the 18, what number would you call, when you are in France ? Bossy is a Mountain Guide, could he have had the ‘private’ number, perhaps already installed in his phone ?

    If the 15:15 time stamp of the LAST PHOTO taken beside the Virginia Creeper covered property, diagonally opposite La Poste, is a fact (why wouldn’t it be), then the Al-Hillis took a return to the ‘dangerous road’ sign, as proposed by me, Max and The Telegraph, to name but a few.

    There were reportedly more photos, taken between 15:00 and 15:10 in front of typical chalets and farmhouses, I see that as something ‘normal’, had grandma been to France before ?

    I leave everyone to make up their own minds.

    In one of those links it does attribute the type of moto ridden by Melvin, I feel sure he wasn’t the one seen by the ONF and told off, he was still up there when the sirens started, he deliberately avoided the noise.

    Unless of course, he is lying through his teeth, he did the deed along with some friends, just a bit of fun and his father backed up the story by hearing gunshots that others didn’t – no more weird or fanciful than all the other theories that have been looked at on this thread and others, is it?

    Maybe Melvin wasn’t alone that day, meeting his friend on another bike in amongst the forests…… the one ‘escorted’ back to the authorised route.

    I am still of a mind that something went very wrong that day and the cumulative deaths were not the plan.

    The motorbike with large side boxes and possibly top box
    Within 50 metres of Denis Janin
    Then disappeared

    Where did it go ?

    Going towards Martinet at that point would not mean that was its final destination, there are many routes off this one, linking carparks, maybe just maybe it continued and took one of these, they aren’t the best of ‘roads’, maybe some visting ‘Pole fancied his chances, not understanding French he drove through the Pont Leyat, not observing the ‘interdit’ sign.

  7. 513
    Lars Says:


    I am primarily, in this discussion, interested in that the basic facts are correct. I guess that we all the time get new readers to this blog. Readers who have not followed the discussion from the start. I don’t want them to get wrong impressions from this blog. There are enough of these in the media.

    Even if there are so many important things that we don’t know, due to the policy of the French police, there are still a number of things that we do know like names, relations, age, places, distances and topography etc.

    I just wanted to point out that you can’t see the road very far from Le Martinet (only around 100 meter).

  8. 512
    partlucid Says:


    Lars, I think you favour a scenario which sees the gunman targeting Sylvain Mollier from a position where he is unable to see/ or is unaware of the Al-Hilli group. Given that the distances involved appear so small, I have some trouble with that, but my speculation wasn’t intended to undermine your thinking. I was simply trying to turn things round and envisage a situation where a gunman, seeking to kill the Al-Hillis, might have been unaware of/ and surprised by SM….

    …and that could arise by the gunman either positioning himself within the lay-by itself…or on the road, and in such a way that his back was facing Sylvain Mollier as he came wheeling along…

    I wasn’t really proposing any one theory over another; I was simply thinking aloud. Indeed some of my posts today would probably support the SM side of things! even although that’s not my personal preference…

  9. 511
    Eugene Says:

    Typo: read 14:40

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