PARIS (AP) — A man charged with murder after a 9-year-old girl went missing from a wedding celebration in the French Alps last summer is now suspected of killing a soldier months before in the same region, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Local prosecutor Thierry Dran said during a news conference that all unsolved missing person cases in the Savoie region will now be re-investigated in the light of the development involving 34-year-old suspect Nordahl Lelandais.
Lelandais was given a preliminary charge of premeditated murder Wednesday after DNA tests showed that a skull a hiker found recently belonged to a soldier in his 20s who was reported missing in April, Dran said.
Lelandais, a former army dog handler, denied any involvement in the disappearance or death of Cpl. Arthur Noyer, as he did in the missing girl case, the prosecutor said. The suspect acknowledged being in the town of Chambery the night Noyer went missing there, he added.
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Other evidence led to the decision to charge Lelandais preliminarily, Dran said. Mobile phone data and video surveillance footage showed Lelandais and Noyer were at several places at the same time on the night of April 11 and early April 12, not only in Chambery, where the corporal was last seen, but also in two villages outside the town, Dran said.
A search of Lelandais’ computer showed he looked on the internet for information on the “decomposition of a human body,” Dran added.
Lelandais has been charged with murder in the case of Maelys De Araujo, the girl who disappeared while attending a wedding celebration with her parents in late August. Neither the child nor her body has been found. Lelandais also was a guest at the party in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, a village 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) from Chambery.
After the prosecutor’s news conference, the soldier’s mother briefly spoke to reporters and directed a message to her late son, her voice broken by grief.
“We will continue to fight for you, my dear, until the truth breaks out,” Cecile Noyer said, standing alongside her husband and other son.
“We all know that you were a loving, caring, brave young man. We are proud of you and we love you so much. So try to rest in peace,” she said.