An American diving instructor has admitted to killing his wife by stabbing her twice during an argument in their French holiday home and dumping her body in a storm drain, authorities say.
Billy Kruger, aged in his 50s, was charged with murder on Sunday after the body of his 52-year-old wife Laure Bardina-Kruger was discovered near their property in Peyriac-de-Mer, on the Mediterranean coast, in southern France.
Kruger, who authorities say is originally from Brooklyn, New York, told investigators that he acted in self-defense, prosecutor Marie-Agnes Jolie said.
French police arrested Kruger at Toulouse airport where he was preparing to go to Jakarta, Indonesia, where the couple lived.
Kruger was placed under formal investigation Sunday on a preliminary charge of aggravated murder and ordered held in jail, pending a possible trial.
The couple, who were married for 26 years and have one adult son, lived in Jakarta where he is a diving instructor and she worked as a French teacher.
They would spend a few weeks in Peyriac-de-Mer each year where they had a holiday home.
Bardina-Kruger was born and raised near the seaside town.
The couple had been due to fly back to Jakarta together on Friday – the same day police found the wife’s body hidden in the storm drain nearby their home.
The wife’s parents raised the alarm after they were unable to reach the couple by phone ahead of the flight and Bardina-Kruger’s father said the couple did not visit them to say goodbye.
Police sent to the couple’s home found Bardina-Kruger’s belongings were still there.
They found her body dumped in the drain soon after.
Authorities then learned that Kruger had checked into the flight alone. He was arrested in the boarding zone of the airport.
During police questioning, Kruger said he stabbed his wife twice, the prosecutor said.
He said they had been arguing and he allegedly put forward ‘a vague’ explanation of self-defense.
On Sunday, a bouquet of white roses had been placed at the top of the drain where Bardina-Kruger’s body was found.
Her brother Pierre Bardina wrote on Facebook: ‘We got the conformation yesterday that my sister Laure Bardina-Kruge was murdered by her husband, by stabbing.
‘He then hid the body in a storm drain. I have no words to qualify how we all feel right now. Our whole family thanks you again for your words of support that reminds us how appreciated Laure was.
‘For her kindness, energy, solar charisma, willpower and love she carried for her son Maximus and her husband who murdered her.
‘We don’t know yet what happened, but we never got any alarm signal from Laure regarding violent acts against her by her husband.
‘You always think this can only happen to other people, but violence against women can happen all of a sudden.
‘My sister was an exceptional person who from childhood had a well developed character. Her whole life has been a succession of adventures around the world. Her killer leaves in our hearts the burning mark of eternal sorrow.
‘Maximus, Laure’s son is an orphan and no longer has a mother or father. We owe ourselves to be strong and resilient for him…’
The couple had been married for 26 years and share one son, who is now an adult, together.
Local French media have reported that their son had been staying with them at their holiday home but had returned to Indonesia earlier.
The couple have lived in Indonesia since 2015 after previously living together in Hawaii.
Bardina-Kruger’s previous teaching postings have been in Hawaii and China.
Tributes on Facebook described the victim as ‘such a lovely fun soul’ who ‘brightened up every room.’
A former colleague of Bardina-Kruger took to Facebook to pay tribute to her friend, writing: ‘I am absolutely devastated and heart broken to hear the news of the tragic death of my wonderful friend and former colleague Laure Bardina-Kruger.
‘She was such a bright, kind and beautiful person inside and out.
‘I have four years of sweet memories working with her and laughing with her. When she left SCIS, we both promised that we would visit each other regularly after we retire.
‘I am saddened that this promise will never come true now that she has been taken away from us so suddenly.
‘However, I am grateful that we managed to catch up over a year ago during a workshop in Singapore.
‘She will be forever missed by many of us. Rest in Peace, Laure!’