Four members of a family “obsessed with conspiracy theories” died when they apparently jumped off the balcony of their seventh-floor apartment in Montreux, Switzerland.
They were described as “a wealthy French family who had become survivalists obsessed with Covid conspiracy theories.” All of them, including children, jumped one after the other to their deaths from their seventh-floor apartment.
Eric David, 40, his wife Nasrine Feraoun, 41, and her twin sister Narjisse, and the couple’s eight-year-old daughter were found dead at the bottom of a seven-story building – just 45 minutes after police knocked on their door with an arrest warrant for Mr. David.
The couple’s 15-year-old son survived the fall but remains in stable condition in a coma at a local hospital.
Police do not believe anyone else was involved in their deaths.
All five family members had “withdrawn from society” and jumped more than 65ft to their deaths moments after police attempted to execute an arrest warrant on the father over his decision to home-school one of his children, police said.
Police said the deaths happened after two officers arrived at the apartment at 6:15 am to execute a warrant for the father in connection with the home-schooling of one of the couple’s children. The officers knocked on the door and heard a voice ask who they were. But when they answered, the apartment went eerily quiet. After failing to make contact, the officers left.
Shortly before 7 am, less than an hour after the police left, all five family members jumped from the balcony within the space of five minutes. A step-ladder was found on the balcony, but there were no signs of struggle, police said.
“Before or during the events, no witnesses, including the two police officers present on the spot from 6:15 am and the passers-by at the foot of the building, heard the slightest noise or cry coming from the apartment or the balcony,” police said.
“Technical investigations show no warning signs of such an act,” they added, noting, however, that “since the start of the pandemic, the family was very interested in conspiracy and survivalist theories.”
The family was said to be “preppers” living in virtual self-sufficiency with a well-organized stockpile of various foods that took up most of the living space in the apartment. Only the mother’s twin sister worked outside the home, while neither the mother nor the eight-year-old girl, who did not attend school, were registered with the local authorities.
“All these elements suggest that the family had a fear of the authorities interfering in their lives,” the police statement said.
Neighbors said the family was quiet and kept to themselves.
“We heard nothing from their home; the father never said hello in the hallway and ordered many packages almost daily,” neighbor Claude Rouiller told Swiss newspaper Le Temps.
France’s Journal du Dimanche newspaper said the father, Eric David, grew up in a wealthy part of Marseille and attended the Ecole Polytechnique, one of the most prestigious schools in the country.
The twin sisters, Nasrine and Narjisse Feraoun, grew up in a family of five children who were all educated at the elite Lycee Henri-IV in Paris, the weekly said. The mother was a dentist, and her sister an ophthalmologist.
The newspaper also said the twins were granddaughters of Algerian novelist Mouloud Feraoun.
A close friend of the French philosopher Albert Camus, Feraoun was assassinated in Algiers in 1962 by a far-right French pro-colonial group.
Montreux, a bucolic lakeside city, is best known as a tourist hot spot and in particular for its annual jazz festival.