Four months before the trial of Nordahl Lelandais for the crime of murder of Maëlys de Araujo, preceded by the kidnapping and kidnapping of the child, two wedding guests attended by the victim and his family testify. At 8 p.m. on TF1, they tell of the astonishment and horror that followed the festivities.
“We didn’t know him”, this is one of the first observations made about Nordahl Lelandais by Christian and his daughter Maud, two guests. of the wedding, on the 8 p.m. newspaper on TF1. On the night of August 26 to 27, 2017, he kidnaps Maëlys De Araujo, 8, when she went with her parents to a wedding in Isère. For months, the family of the little girl will navigate in the dark and the hope of finding her until the accused, invited to the wedding at the last minute, confesses to having “involuntarily” killed the girl. “He was a friend of Eddy’s, the groom. They had played football together as children.” explain the witnesses. He therefore did not attract suspicion: “I think I saw him around 1.30-2.00 when people were starting to get up from the table. I didn’t see anything suspicious. He was talking with people, but there was no stories or problems “. A wedding after all ordinary, which drags on and where the little ones stay together so as not to get bored while the adults dance. “There was a large space where the children could play games, dance. As parents, we were quite serene since one person was taking care of our children”, they add. So why be wary when there are only friends there?
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And when the DJ makes an announcement to ask the guests if they’ve seen Maëlys, people don’t worry. “Around 3am, I was dancing with some friends when the DJ made a first announcement. (…) Then there was a second, then a third announcement. The DJ then cut the music. and explained that Maëlys could not be found, that it was necessary to help find her “, explains Maud, who was then with her 6-year-old daughter. The next hour will be spent finding where the little girl was hiding: “We started looking in the room, under the tables. We also looked in an annex room where there were mattresses. She was not there, nor even in the toilets. Then we checked where it was. The reception was held before going out in the street around the village hall. It was dark, we were all with our phones and our flashlights “.
Then the gendarmes arrived. “They asked us not to leave and to disclose our identities. They also insisted that our photos be shown to the bride so that she could possibly recognize an intruder who would have slipped in during the ceremony. there were no strangers in the photos. Then we opened our car trunks “ Christian and Maud testify. But the research will be useless since Nordahl Lelandais had already fled with the little girl.
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Maëlys affair: astonishment as a primary emotion
The horror of this event traumatized these two witnesses who still remember the astonishment and the impossibility of understanding the gravity of the facts. “It was a little girl who was at the wedding with us. How many times I said to myself: ‘my daughter was at the wedding, it could have been her’. When I saw Maëlys ‘parents on television, frankly I’ was sorry for them “, says Maud who, subsequently, no longer experienced things in the same way. “I was invited to another wedding and experienced it really differently. I kept an eye on my daughter constantly. When we have experienced this, we say to ourselves that it can happen to anyone. We are becoming much more vigilant “, she warns.
Nordahl Lelandais had already been sentenced in May 2020 to 20 years of criminal imprisonment with a security period of two thirds and a socio-judicial follow-up of ten years for the murder of Arthur Noyer, corporal of the 13th battalion of Alpine hunters (BCA). He had kidnapped and killed the 23-year-old in April 2017, just a few months before killing little Maëlys. These testimonies therefore help refresh the memory of painful facts that will have to be recounted during the trial of the accused in January 2022.