Police reveal isle ferry clue in hunt for missing twins
The search for Swiss twins missing for more than a week has spread to Corsica and southern Italy, after authorities confirmed the six-year-old girls were on a ferry to the French island four days before their father apparently killed himself in Italy.
Marseille Prosecutor Jacques Dallest said Matthias Kaspar Schepp and his daughters boarded a ferry for Propriano, in Corsica, on January 31, but authorities could not confirm that the twins ever left the boat.
But police in southern Italy, meanwhile, interviewed a coffee shop owner who reported seeing a man and his daughters who fit the description of blonde Alessia and Livia sometime last week. The bar is located in the city of Cerignola, where Schepp was found dead on February 3.
If confirmed, the report would place the twins in Italy for the first time since they were reported missing from their home in Lausanne, Switzerland on January 30. Police, who searched the bar and took a closed-circuit video, haven't commented on the claim.
"Either the father threw the girls overboard during the trip from Marseille to Propriano, or he got off with them and something happened on the way back and he was able to get rid of them before killing himself in Italy," Dallest said.
Irina Lucidi, the twins' mother, who has separated from Schepp, appealed for help before television cameras outside her home in the community of St Sulpice in Lausanne.
A day earlier, her brother had voiced pessimism about the prospects of finding the girls alive. But based on the new evidence that the three had boarded the ferry in Marseille, she expressed hope and thanked those helping in the search.
"I appeal to all witnesses, all persons who may have seen my daughters Alessia and Livia together with their father before his death on Thursday," she said. "The fact that the three were seen makes us hopeful about the outcome of the case."
One witness on the Scandola ferry reported seeing the twins, one wearing glasses, the other a large t-shirt, the prosecutor said.
Another witness said she heard crying from Schepp's neighbouring cabin and "a bit later, she saw the little girls," Dallest said. She said she saw them again later on the ferry's playground.