Retired teacher, 77, decapitated as head found on coffee table next to body

A picturesque seaside resort town has been rocked after a 77-year-old retired schoolteacher was found decapitated in her home.

The unnamed local woman was found in gruesome fashion – with her head on a coffee table next to her body – at her home Agde in the Herault region of southern France.

Suspicions were quickly raised when her son was unable to contact her via the phone, as the pair normally spoke on a daily basis.

Prosecutor Raphael Balland said that authorities were currently questioning a man over the tragedy.

"It is a 51-year-old man who knew the victim."

A local source also said that there were no signs of a break-in at the home, with the outside gate closed and the front door left unlocked.

They said: "The woman’s son was apparently connected to the home via video link, and he reported that he had seen a shadow on the ground."

The woman was known to have been living alone following the death of her husband – she had two children.

Authorities have said locally, according to several reports across French media outlets, that they are so far ruling out terrorism and that the incident has not yet been referred to anti-terror prosecutors at the time or reporting.

Located on the River Hérault, around four kilometres from the Mediterranean Sea and 750 kilometres from Paris, Agde is one of the oldest towns in France and has a population of around 30,000.

Mr Balland had, in June, called on French prosecutors to take a tougher stance on domestic violence, after several cases of defendants who committed such acts being given minimal sentences or being released without charge, according to French newspaper Midi Libre.

It is also believed to be a popular destination for nudists.

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