An Italian television crew is investigating a claim that Swiss girls believed to have been killed by their Canadian-born father are in fact alive and living in Ottawa and Lachute, Quebec.
Alessia and Livia Schepp were six years old when they disappeared on Jan. 30, 2011, from Lausanne, Switzerland in the company of their father, Matthias Schepp. Schepp, who was born in Toronto, later killed himself in Italy.
He and the girls' mother had separated about six months before, and Swiss police said he had written a letter to his wife before his death, saying he had killed his daughters and intended to kill himself.
While police searched extensively for the girls, they were never found, nor were their bodies ever recovered, fuelling rumours that they might still be alive.
Letter claims girls sent to Canada
Italian journalist Ercole Rocchetti, a reporter with a television program focused on missing persons — Chi L'Ha Visto — said they received a letter last week from someone claiming to have worked for someone who printed the false documents that allowed the girls to be transported to Canada.
The author of the letter claimed one of the girls was living in Ottawa and the other was living in Lachute, Que., a town near the Ontario-Quebec border.
Rocchetti was in Lachute over the weekend before arriving in Ottawa on Monday, making appeals for help from the public. He's hoping his program's investigation into the tip might help locate the children, if they are in fact alive and in Canada.
Rocchetti said before Schepp killed himself, he had sent his wife a series of letters with money totalling 5,900 euros, but Rocchetti said Schepp had just days earlier taken out 8,000 euros.
Rocchetti said the remaining money was never recovered, but might have been used to pay for document forgeries. The mother of the twins, who remains in Europe, is not granting interviews on this latest development.
Ottawa police say Italian police have not asked for aid
The investigation, however, was news to Ottawa police.
Ottawa police spokesman Cst. Marc Soucy said Italian police have had no contact with his police force.
"If we get asked to assist, we will assist, but for now we have not been asked," said Soucy.
"We need a complaint, need someone to come forward and say this is happening," he said.