A former French soldier has been sentenced to life in prison for the kidnapping and murder of an 8-year-old girl
A former French soldier was sentenced to life in prison Friday for the kidnapping and murder of an eight-year-old girl in a case that terrified the country.
Nordal Lelande, 39, has confessed to killing Melis de Araujo, who disappeared in August 2017 from a wedding near the Alpine town of Chambéry in eastern France.
Police searched the girl for months before arresting Lelandes, who was also a guest at the wedding.
After initially denying the allegations, Lelande finally drove them to her remains in February 2018 after traces of her blood were found in his car. He has since insisted that Mehlis’ death was accidental.
His murder trial came just months after he was imprisoned for another murder, the murder of a fellow soldier who beat him to death.
The prosecutor in the Melles case, Jack Dallst, said Lelandis represented a “complete danger to society” as he called for the maximum punishment for him.
The judge said Lelande would have to serve at least 22 years before he would be eligible for release under French rules.
Shortly before the court heard the final statements, Lelande told the Melles family that he felt sorry.
“I know the families will never accept my apology, but I feel I should give it to them with the greatest sincerity,” he said.
Lelande showed little reaction when reading the verdict.
Lelande is already serving a 20-year prison sentence, handed down in May 2021, for the murder of Corporal Arthur Noir, 23, in the early hours of April 12, 2017.
He had picked Noyer on the go after leaving a nightclub in Chambery.
Lelandais claimed the death, too, was accidental, telling police that Noyer had bumped him into the parking lot where they had parked, leading to a fight that ended when Noyer was fired.
He then put Neuer’s body in the trunk of his car before dumping it on the side of the road.
The killings raised fears that Lelande may have had a role in dozens of other unsolved disappearances in the area, and prosecutors reopened several cases after reviewing his background and movements over several years.
But so far, investigators have not found any evidence of his involvement in other crimes.