Couple found 75 years after disappearance
GENEVA — The bodies of a Swiss couple that disappeared in the Alps 75 years ago have been found preserved in a receding glacier, ending decades of uncertainty for their family, relatives and media said on Tuesday.
The bodies were found lying near each other in the Diablerets massif in southern Switzerland on Thursday, along with backpacks, a bottle, a book and a watch, according to Le Matin daily.
Valais canton (state) police said on Wednesday that forensic experts using DNA analysis identified the two as Marcelin Dumoulin and his wife, Francine, who went missing on August 15, 1942.
Marcelin, a 40-year-old shoemaker at the time, and his wife Francine, a schoolteacher aged 37, had left their village of Chandolin in Valais canton on foot before disappearing, orphaning five sons and two daughters.
Their daughter, Monique Dumoulin, said it was the first time her mother had joined her father for that type of excursion. She had previously always stayed home, either because she was pregnant, or to look after her young children.
The couple had been hoping to make an overnight trip to check on their cattle, which were being kept in an alpine pasture.
Monique Dumoulin said that the sky had been clear when her parents set out, but that clouds later darkened the area, likely making it difficult to ensure solid footing on the glacier’s surface.
Preserved in glacier
The bodies were found on Tsanfleuron, a glacier at an altitude of 2,600 meters by an employee of the Glacier 3000 ski resort, the resort’s director, Bernard Tschannen, told Le Matin.
“It was a man and a woman wearing clothes from World War II,” Tschannen was quoted as saying. “The ice preserved them perfectly and their belongings were intact.”
Marceline Udry-Dumoulin, who was 4 the day her parents went missing, told Le Matin that she climbed the glacier three times after their disappearance, “constantly wondering what had happened to them”.
Granddaughter Maryline Dumoulin said that aside from the DNA tests, her grandfather’s distinctive watch and backpack, which he made himself, could help identify the bodies.
She said her two aunts — her grandparents’ only surviving children — were “happy they will finally be able to mourn.”