Four dead, an ever-expanding list of suspects, dozens of detectives on the case. Three years after the fact, a mysterious shooting in the French Alps has evolved into one of the most confounding, globe-spanning criminal investigations in decades. On this, the third anniversary, Sean Flynn returns to the scene of the crime in an attempt to crack the unsolvable murders on the mountain. This is the first of six parts—to see the full series so far, go here
The driver was a British engineer born in Iraq who worked on satellite systems in Surrey, and maybe that’s why he was dead and all the others were, too. On a Wednesday afternoon in September 2012, Saad al-Hilli drove his maroon BMW from a campground on the shore of Lake Annecy, in the French Alps, and into a tiny community called Chevaline, at the far edge of which the pavement slips into the trees. The path rising out of Chevaline is steep and pocked and hyphenated by tight bridges crossing a noisy froth of water. For three kilometers, there is nowhere to turn around and nowhere to go but up, and then there is nowhere to go at all. The public road ends at a small parking area, where Saad nosed his BMW to the tree line.