No clue, no lead, nothing. The disappearance of the Méchinaud family on Christmas Eve 1972 still has no explanation, but hope has just been reborn. This 50-year-old case has been taken over by the “cold case pole” of Nanterre, which only delves into a few unsolved cases.
It all started on the night of December 24 to 25, 1972, when the Méchinaud family spent Christmas Eve with friends in Cognac (Charente). The clan is made up of Jacques, 31, his wife Pierrette, 29, and their two children Eric (7) and Bruno (4). Only four kilometers separate their friends’ house from their home in Boutiers-Saint-Trojan. When they leave the party at one o’clock in the morning, getting into their Simca 1100, the parents and their two children should therefore not take a long time to return home. They will never reach their destination.
Jacques Méchinaud’s parents alert the police a week later and, going to the family home, they discover gifts still wrapped under the Christmas tree, a checkbook on the corner of a table and even a turkey and oysters in the refrigerator. The image is that of a Christmas meal that did not take place, but which had been planned in advance. Did Jacques, Pierrette and their children decide to leave overnight, without telling anyone? Unlikely, because no clothes are missing from the closets.
The police naturally think of an accident, because the road taken by the couple at night runs along the Charente. Did they fall into the river? The searches yield nothing and the track is closed. Who could have blamed this ordinary family, of unshaken normality, at least in appearance? The gendarmes will go from discovery to discovery…
After several weeks, the gendarmes learn that the mother of the family had a lover, a wine worker two years her junior, living in a nearby village. Jacques Méchinaud would have discovered the extra-marital relationship of his wife and the couple would have been on the verge of separation, according to relatives. The gendarmes then think of a collective suicide, but the lover of the disappeared, Maurice Blanchon, advances another hypothesis.
Maurice Blanchon was quickly questioned by the gendarmes in 1972, but he explained that the family would have fled to Australia. “The husband had gone to spend two days in Vendée just before the disappearance with an army comrade. He must know things”, he would have said from the start to the gendarmes, quoted by La Charente Libre. According to the former lover of Pierrette, now 77 years old, the last words of the disappeared, two days before the tragedy, would have been the following: “Don’t worry, don’t worry…”. She would have received blows from her husband at the time of the discovery of her affair, he adds. Contacted by Planet, Maurice Blanchon did not wish to comment on this case.
Would the discovery of this affair have precipitated the disappearance of the family? The investigation does not allow the police to favor this track more than another. The lover, for his part, was questioned very recently…
In this case, the gendarmes opened all the tracks and, very recently, that of the lover. With La Charente Libre, Maurice Blanchon explained in July 2020: “Two gendarmes came to my house to tell me that I was summoned the next day. I was questioned about the missing, my house searched for a letter , one of my lands passed through the grinder… I was asked again if I knew something”. “For 48 years I have been saying the same thing, I know nothing of the circumstances of their disappearance and believe me I would have liked to know. This story affected me a lot”, he concludes with the local daily.
Will the resumption of the file by the “cold case center” of Nanterre put an end to the mystery? Without a clue, without a body, without any material element, the investigators start from scratch, but a new look is sometimes the solution to restart the machine.