In excerpts from an interview published by the popular Italian magazine Oggi, Irina Lucidi said she remains “confident” her twin daughters are alive, despite having gone missing almost six months ago.
“Alessia and Livia are here, inside me. I hear them laugh,” she said, unable to hold back the tears.
“I feel they are happy. Because they are very happy little people, full of life. I cannot associate them with anything bad."
The mystery of the disappearance of Livia and Alessia Schepp, both six, has gripped three nations and grabbed headlines for months. The two Swiss girls went missing during a trip to France and Italy with their father, Matthias Schepp.
The man, who picked up his daughters on January 28th, committed suicide a few days later, jumping in front of a train in southern Italy. Before dying, Schepp posted a letter in which he said he had killed the girls and that they were "resting in peace". No trace of them has surfaced since, despite large-scale searches by the Swiss, Italian and French police.
In the interview, Lucidi spoke extensively and for the first time about her life without Alessia and Livia, recounting the marital crisis that turned eventually into a tragedy. Speaking from her home in St. Sulpice, Switzerland, Lucidi described her current life as one of suffering.
"There are moments of despair, then moments of hope. Then the void. Now I'm used to it. And often I hear voices, laughter, screams, coming from the void,” she was quoted as saying.
Lucidi recalled falling in love with Schepp, moving to a bigger house to accommodate the needs of a growing family, as well as the first misunderstandings, the increasingly tense domestic environment and the separation in August 2010.
"He was authoritarian; the other person did not exist. People had no identity; they were pawns and had to do what he said,” she recalled.
“One of the battlefields was the upbringing of Alessia and Livia. Matthias had 100 million rules about everything. Opening the refrigerator, eating, playing, everything was done according to a schedule.”
Lucidi also recounted how the life of the little twins was regimented.
“You had to eat at 7 o’clock and not later, then wash, put on your pajamas, watch a little TV, go to bed, tell a story and switch off the light at 9 o’clock. And don’t you dare do it differently."
Lucidi said she had sought the help of relatives and friends and had tried to persuade her husband to undergo psychotherapy. After the separation, the man was allowed to see and spend time with his daughters and, on one occasion, he had taken them with him for a vacation abroad, Lucidi said.
Lucidi sounded the alarm about the children's disappearance when Schepp failed to return them on the agreed day.
“That night I realized that something was wrong. I had the keys, I went to his place and entered. The girls were supposed to be in bed, but there was no sign of them,” she said.
It was then that she found her ex-husband’s will.
“He wrote that, if Livia and Alessia were no longer alive, his possessions would have to go to his brothers. It was midnight and I started to get scared." The woman said her ex-husband’s gesture was a retaliation against her.
But despite the pain, Lucidi said she believed police were making progress with their investigations.
“Matthias's journey has been reconstructed to include all possible routes. From the initial thirty different scenarios, there are very few that still remain today. I am confident," she said.