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Family’s Balcony Death in Switzerland Appears to Be Suicide

The four members of a French family who were found dead at the bottom of an apartment building in a Swiss resort town last week appear to have jumped off a balcony, “one after the other,” as part of a group suicide, the Swiss police said.

The police said on Tuesday that their investigation suggests that the four people — a 40-year-old man, his 41-year-old wife, her twin sister, and the couple’s 8-year-old daughter — plunged to their deaths in Montreux in western Switzerland in succession.

A fifth person, the couple’s 15-year-old son, also apparently jumped from the seventh-floor balcony but survived, and he is in a coma, said the police in the canton of Vaud, where Montreux is situated.

The police said they had ruled out the presence of other people in the apartment at the time that the family members apparently leapt, and offered additional evidence to support their theory.

Investigators said they found a stepladder on the balcony, there was no sign of a struggle and no witness heard any sounds or shouting coming from the apartment or the balcony before the family fell, they said.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the family was “very interested in conspiracy and survivalist” theories, and had stocked up on an “impressive” amount of food that occupied most of the apartment, the police said.

“The family lived in near autarky,” the statement said, “removed from society.”

Only one member of the family, the mother’s twin sister, worked outside the apartment, the police said. The daughter was not enrolled in school, and she and the mother were not registered as living in Montreux.

The son was home-schooled, and two police officers knocked at the door of the apartment at 6:15 a.m. on Thursday morning to summon the father in connection with the son’s education. A voice asked who was at the door, but when the officers identified themselves, nothing further was said. The officers then left.

Shortly before 7 a.m., the five people fell from a height of more than 20 meters in the span of five minutes. “All these elements suggest, among the members of this family, the fear of an interference by the authorities in their life,” the police said.

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