'Odd couple' found in deathly embrace in France

  • 12 February 2014
  • From the section Europe
Police tape Image copyright PA
Image caption The couple were found in the St Jean quarter of the city

The dead bodies of a woman of 94 and a man of 55 have been found locked in an embrace in the flat they shared in the south-west French city of Bordeaux.

Emergency services entered the flat after being alerted by a caretaker, whose suspicions were aroused by the smell on the stairs, local media say.

They had lived together for five years or more, since the woman took the man in from a life on the streets.

When a fall two years ago largely confined her to the flat, he stayed on.

Forensics experts believe the man, Didier Delavigne, died first and the woman, Elisabeth Devidas, died shortly afterwards, the French newspaper Sud Ouest reports.

She was found on Monday afternoon with her arm wrapped around her companion in their bed in the flat, close to Bordeaux railway station.

People who knew them told the paper they had made an "odd couple of iconoclasts", walking hand in hand in the street at the start of their relationship.

"She was no ordinary woman, very free, someone who led her own life," said Nicole, a neighbour in the block of flats.

"She was a character. When she took in this man... she knew what people were saying behind her back. She didn't give a damn. She defied the malicious tongues. She'd tell them 'We even got married!' or 'He's my boyfriend, so what?'"

"They say he was homeless and you could smell the wine from 10 metres away," Heri Rananaivoson, the caretaker, recalled of Mr Delavigne, when he first made his appearance six or seven years ago.

But he seems to have changed after he met Ms Devidas, for whom he initially ran errands before moving in. "I saw him on the mend," said Mr Rananaivoson. "He stopped smelling of alcohol."

The last time he saw Mr Delavigne, at the beginning of the month, he was "looking well".

Nicole told the paper she believed both Mr Delavigne and Ms Devidas had had a hard life.

"What a beautiful tragedy," she added.

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