A former soldier who has confessed to killing an eight-year-old girl in a case that horrified France went on trial Monday on charges of murdering another man just months before.

Police initially said after Nordahl Lelandais was arrested in 2017 that they were looking again at 40 unsolved disappearances and cold cases, including the 2012 massacre of a British-Iraqi family in their car in the Alps.

But since then nothing has emerged to back the theories that the former military dog handler was a serial killer. He has insisted that both killings of the little girl and the 24-year-old soldier were accidental.

Here are some of the most high-profile cases Lelandais, 38, has been linked to: 

Vanished at a wedding –
Eight-year-old Maelys De Araujo vanished on August 27, 2017 from a wedding in the Alps.

For six months the police searched in vain for her body in a case that gripped the nation.

Lelandais had been a guest at the wedding and was swiftly the chief suspect, but he denied the crime until the child’s DNA was found in his car. 

The military dog trainer finally guided investigators to her body in February 2018.

Lelandais admitted to having killed the girl “by mistake” and hiding her corpse.

Young hitchhiker –
Lelandais went on trial Monday for murdering another soldier four months before he killed Maelys.

Arthur Noyer, 24, was last seen in April 2017 as he was hitchhiking in the town of Chambery after leaving a nightclub.

Parts of his skull were found by a hiker in September that year and telephone records placed Noyer and Lelandais in the same area at the same time on the night of the soldier’s disappearance.

Investigators found that Lelandais, a martial arts fan, had looked up “decomposition of a human body” on his computer after the soldier vanished.

He was charged with the killing — which he admitted to police — in December 2017.

Sexual abuse of cousins –
In separate investigations, Lelandais admitted the sexual assault of two of his second cousins, both minors, who he also filmed. 

He is also charged with molesting a third cousin, who was 14 at the time, the day of her father’s funeral. 

Alps murder mystery –
Prosecutors in 2017 said Lelandais may be connected to some 40 other unsolved cases. But more than three years later none have gone further.

This month, Grenoble prosecutor Jacques Dallest told local media that “Lelandais may have killed other people but we may never know”.

However, a judicial source told AFP that “no link has been established with other disappearances”.

The most notorious of these unsolved cases was the murder of a British family near the Alpine village of Chevaline in 2012. A cyclist was also gunned down.

The two young daughters survived the gruesome attack, one hiding under her dead mother’s skirts for hours.

Detectives said in 2019 that a different modus operandi made it unlikely Lelandais was responsible.

© Agence France-Presse

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Presh JM Reporter

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