An inquest is underway to determine the circumstances surrounding the recent death of a couple who were shopkeepers in the old town of Grasse. The macabre discovery was made in the Belvedere residence.
The inhabitants of the Belvedere residence in Grasse received a somewhat hectic wake-up call recently. Numerous police cars had assembled at the Prado crossing early in the morning.
“At first, I thought it had been a burglary,” according to one of the residents who lives on the first floor. “But when I saw how many police there were, I suspected it might be far more serious.”
In fact, three floors above, Beatrice Rousseau and Thierry Bataille had died, in circumstances which the police have been trying to uncover. Their neighbour continued, “I knew them, they had lived here for about a year and they were shopkeepers in Grasse. They ran an ice-cream shop near the place aux Aires. I used to greet them every day.” The woman, 55, died in her bed following stab wounds from a knife, while the man, 56, suffered a gunshot wound. The man had been able to alert the neighbours before succumbing to his wounds. The neighbours alerted the fire department, just before 4 am, and the police.
“The scene began in couple’s apartment and then continued in the communal areas of the residence,” specified a police source. “The first indications lead us to believe that this was a homicide followed by a suicide. There is no trace of forced entry into the apartment from an outsider.” It is possible to imagine, then, that the man may have killed his wife – either with her consent or in a moment of madness? – before killing himself.
Rumours of bankruptcy
The autopsies which will be conducted should enable us to know more regarding the cause of these deaths.
Many rumours have been circulating recently, stating that the couple had financial difficulties and that their business, Rêve de glaces (Ice cream Dream), located at rue Dominique-Conte, was going bankrupt. This speculation has not convinced Jean Pierre Rouquier, president of the Grasse Economic Federation: “I believe they are amalgamated with the bakery of Quatre Coins, which is currently under legal liquidation. If anything was happening, I would have known about it. In addition, the couple had never complained of any financial worries. Their shop received regular business and it seemed to be doing well. They were always smiling. It’s truly unbelievable.” One can scarcely imagine what dramatic incident could have led to such extreme acts.
Fellow Shopkeepers in Shock
Until recently, some of the shopkeepers near the ice-cream shop had still not been informed of the event. They were stunned when the shop had not opened Tuesday morning, as closing days were Sundays and Mondays. “They used to stay closed on rainy days, because people usually didn’t buy ice-creams,” explained one shopkeeper. “I was shocked they did not open Tuesday, as the weather was so beautiful.” The Quatre Coins greengrocer agreed, “They closed on rainy days. He had even stopped by Saturday morning to leave a note saying they were closing exceptionally that day.”
Since settling in Grasse last year, the couple, originally from Gironde, had integrated well in the Quatre Coins area. Regarding the bankruptcy rumours, none of the local shopkeepers had any information. “They had never complained of financial problems and they always came to work with a smile,” said the greengrocer, clearly emotional upon hearing of their death. “We saw each other every day, we greeted each other, we chatted. I can’t believe what happened to them.” It is a sober time in this area of Grasse as locals and neighbours struggle to understand what could have led to the death of this couple and as they wait for further information to be released.