Murdered French girl Maelys will ‘haunt’ killer, says mother
The mother of a murdered French girl whose remains were found this week said her child would "haunt" the ex-soldier who has finally confessed to killing her after months of interrogation.
France has been gripped by the case of Maelys de Araujo, who vanished in the early hours of August 27 while attending a wedding near the Alps town of Chambery with her parents.
On Wednesday, local man Nordahl Lelandais, who was also a guest at the wedding, admitted to killing the eight-year-old after police found a trace of her blood in his car.
On Thursday, investigators combed a remote hilly area, about 15 kilometres from the wedding venue, for remaining body parts.
Public prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat said they had recovered “nearly all of her remains, along with clothes and a shoe”.
On Wednesday, they found her skull and bones after being led to the site by Lelandais.
A former military dog-handler who has also been charged with murdering a hitchhiking soldier last April, Lelandais said he killed Maelys “by mistake” but has so far refused to give details of her death.
In a Facebook post late Wednesday, the child’s grief-stricken mother Jennifer Cleyet-Marrel called him a “murderer” and a “monster” and said he would be haunted by his deeds.
“I had to wait five-and-a-half months before this monster finally broke his silence,” she said, adding: “Maelys will haunt you night and day in prison until you die and go to hell.”
Relatives of 24-year-old Arthur Noyer, the soldier who went missing in the area in April 2017, said they too were hoping to learn the truth of his death.
Noyer was last seen hitchhiking after leaving a nightclub in Chambery in the early hours of the morning.
Parts of his skull were found on a hiking tail in Montmelian, near Chambery, in September.
Telephone records place Noyer and Lelandais in the same area at the same time on the night of the soldier’s disappearance.
Lelandais was also discovered to have carried out internet searches on the decomposition of human bodies after Noyer’s disappearance.
The Noyer family’s lawyer Bernard Boulloud told France Info radio on Thursday he hoped Lelandais would “continue his confessions to the end”.
Investigators have also reopened a number of cases of other people who vanished in the area between 2010 and 2016 to determine whether Lelandais played a part in their disappearance.
His lawyer Alain Jakubowicz denied his client was a serial killer.
“There is not the slightest proof,” he said.
– Car dismantled –
Lelandais, who is single and lives with his parents, was a guest of the groom at the wedding in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, 27 kilometres west of Chambery.
He spent part of the evening chatting with Maelys before she disappeared in the early hours of the morning. He was charged with her murder in November.
The day after the wedding, as a massive search got under way for the little girl, Lelandais was seen scrubbing down his car inside and out.
An initial search of the vehicle revealed a trace of Maelys’s DNA on the dashboard, which he said she could have left while playing in the car with another child.
CCTV images also showed a silhouette in a white dress, like the one Maelys was wearing, being driven away in Lelandais’s car on the night of the wedding.
But with Lelandais still denying foul play the search for evidence continued.
Police forensic expert Patrick Touron told LCI television that the incriminating trace of blood was found after investigators took the car apart.
“We searched every inch of the car, we dismantled the panels and everything else that someone cleaning the car cannot get to,” he said.
On Thursday, around 20 forensic experts with sniffer dogs searched the hills in the snow and fog for Maelys’s remaining body parts.
Grenoble prosecutor Jean-Yves Coquillat said Lelandais had promised to explain the circumstances of her death once her body was found.
“I am sure he will cooperate fully,” his lawyer Jakubowicz said.