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Spa Francorchamps CEO Nathalie Maillet found dead in suspected murder-suicide
Police have begun investigating a suspected murder-suicide after the bodies of Nathalie Maillet, the director of the Spa Francorchamps racing circuit, her husband Franz Dubois and the prominent lawyer Ann Lawrence Durviaux were discovered just after midnight on Saturday.
The investigating authorities believe Dubois killed both women, who were in a relationship, at Maillet’s home in Gouvy in the province of Luxembourg before turning the gun on himself.
"According to the initial information gathered, the male individual voluntarily used his weapon against the two women, including his wife, resulting in their death, before killing himself," the Public Prosecutor's Office, which is leading the investigation, said in a statement.
Maillet was expected to attend the Ypres Rally event of the World Rally Championship at the weekend. Her absence caused concern and led to the police being called to investigate.
Véronique Léonard, the mayor of Gouvy, confirmed early on Sunday morning that police had found the bodies at around 12.10 am and had alerted her soon after. "The only information I have is that it was a double murder followed by a suicide at Mrs Maillet's house," the mayor told reporters. "Mrs Maillet was a very discreet person. I have never heard anything about her home life to be concerned about.”
A forensic doctor, a ballistics expert, and the technical and scientific laboratory of the police were all still on the scene for most of Sunday morning, the mayor added.
President of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit Melchior Wathelet expressed his sadness following the news: "Our iconic director has passed away. Our thoughts are with her family and loved ones. We here are also all close to Nathalie. The staff of the circuit was also part of her family. It's a hard day for us. She loved the circuit so much.”
"Today we have lost a very great lady, a passionate supporter of motor sports, a real leader who will be greatly missed,” Wathelet added. “Nathalie had become the face of the circuit; she embodied the love of racing that we all share."
Maillet was appointed CEO of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in June 2016. The 51-year-old came from a family of racing drivers and was a former driver in her own right, winning trophies and gaining podium finishes on the national circuits. A graduate from the University of London where she studied architecture, she managed her own firm specialising in eco-architecture before taking the reins of Spa-Francorchamps. Her aim was to modernise the world-famous circuit and its infrastructure and was in the process of overseeing a significant multi-year overhaul and diversification plan of the legendary Ardennes track, that is set to include the return of motorcycle racing to Spa in the future.
Her husband, Franz Dubois, was also a well-known figure in Belgian motorsport, as a team owner and as one of the co-founders of the immensely popular VW Fun Cup series.
The other victim of the alleged murder-suicide, Ann Lawrence Durviaux, a lawyer from Namur who represented Nathalie Maillet, was also a professor at the University of Liège specialising in economic law and public procurement and vice-dean of its faculty.