Alps murder wife had a 'secret' ex-husband who died on the same day
French police reveal that Iqbal Al-Hilli, who was gunned down with her husband Saad and mother, was previously married to an American who died in mysterious circumstances just hours later
A British woman who was shot dead alongside her family in the French Alps had a secret American ex-husband, who died on the same day as her, it has emerged.
Iqbal Al-Hilli died along with her husband, Saad, and her mother Suhaila al-Allaf when a gunman opened fire on their car during a family holiday in September 2012.
A passing French cyclist, Sylvain Mollier, also died, but the couple’s two daughters, aged four and seven, both survived the attack.
French police have been baffled by the murders and have explored a wide range of possible motives.
But it has now emerged that Mrs Al-Hilli had previously been married to an American oil worker called Jim Thompson, who lived in the town of Natchez in Mississippi.
In an extraordinary and sinister twist, Mr Thompson died on the very same day that the Al-Hilli family were gunned down.
According to his death certificate he died of a massive heart-attack, but members of his family have cast doubt on the cause of death, with one relative even suggesting he may have been killed with a poison dart.
Mr Thompson’s daughter Joy Martinloch said her aunt had always suspected foul play and said there had been speculation that he had been poisoned.
She said: “If you wanted to kill somebody and get away with it you would do something that people would accept like a heart attack. They would accept he was a bit overweight, that he had stress issues, he was pushing 60. It’s possible.”
It is understood Mrs Al-Hilli, who was 47 when she died, met Mr Thompson, when she was working in the United States as a dentist.
Despite being more than a decade her senior and having been married several times before, she wed the father of three in 1999.
An unlikely match, he was a keen biker who liked to smoke cigars, while she was a highly educated dentist.
Mr Thompson’s daughter said they had been introduced by a friend of the family and struck a deal to get married so that she could get a green card, allowing her to stay in the United States.
Miss Martinolich said in return Iqbal had bought her father a motorcycle, but they had never enjoyed an intimate relationship.
She managed to keep the relationship secret from her family in Sweden and the couple split the following year.
She later moved to the United Arab Emirates where she met computer engineer, Saad in 2003 and the couple married in Britain the following year.
It is understood he knew nothing of her secret first husband and friends of the couple expressed their complete shock at the development.
One of his closest friends, who helped introduce the couple said: “I can’t believe this news, it has come as a complete shock to me. “
French police insisted that they had known about the relationship since shortly after the murder but had discounted any link because the death certificate stated heart attack as the cause of death.
But Eric Maillaud, the Annecy prosecutor said it opened several interesting lines of inquiry and fresh theories.
He said: “Factually it is very strange that they both died on the same day. The percentage of chance is very slim, but as things stand nothing allows us to think that Iqbal was the main target or that her ex-husband was also one."
“One could imagine anything, including that the ex-husband had her killed because he was disappointed that she had left him and then he committed suicide with a drug that gave him a heart attack without leaving any trace because he couldn't stand having ordered the murder so he decided to die at the same time as her. Why not? But we have no evidence to back this up."
“But this was 11 years after they broke up. That's a long time.”
It has also emerged that French police arrested a suspected Iraqi hitman following a tip off from a convict who claimed he had told him he had been offered 100 thousand euros to kill an Iraqi family travelling to France.
Police investigated the suspect for more than a year before arresting him and questioning him for three days.
However he was released after he was able to provide an alibi for the time the murders took place.