Murder case in French Alps sparks serial killer fears

Chambéry (France) (AFP) –


Police in the French Alps are re-examining a host of missing people cases after charging a man on Wednesday over a second abduction and murder in the area.

Nordahl Lelandais, a former military dog trainer, was charged with the murder of Arthur Noyer, a 24-year-old soldier who was last seen in the early hours of April 12 hitchhiking in the town of Chambery after leaving a nightclub.

Lelandais was previously charged for the abduction and murder in August of an eight-year-old girl named Maelys de Araujo who disappeared from a wedding only a half-hour drive from Chambery.

"Obviously along with the police, we will be looking into all of the worrying disappearances which have taken place in the region," prosecutor Thierry Dran told a news conference.

Investigators probing the Maelys case found that Lelandais' cell phone had been in the same area at the same time as Noyer, who served in France's elite mountain infantry before going missing in April.

Lelandais' black Audi car was also identified in the area on surveillance cameras, Dran said, and an analysis of his phone found he had looked up "decomposition of a human body" on the internet.

Noyer's skull was recently discovered by a hiker and has been identified using his DNA, Dran said.

Investigating magistrates plan to reopen around 10 unresolved cases of missing persons or murders in the region, the Paris daily Le Parisien reported Wednesday.

Lelandais has refused to answer questions about Noyer's and Maelys' disappearances but denies the charges against him.

He has been in custody since September 3 when he was charged with abducting the girl from the August wedding reception.

He has admitted that she got into his car at the wedding after DNA was found there by investigators, but he claimed that she came to look at his dogs and got out afterwards.

Asked why he scrubbed the car inside and out the following morning, Lelandais has said that he planned to sell it.

Prosecutors say that enhanced video footage showed a "small, frail form in a white dress" in the passenger seat of Lelandais' car as he drove away from the wedding in the early hours of August 27.

The figure was not present in footage of his return to the party.

Maelys, whose ninth birthday was November 5, was wearing a white party dress when she disappeared from the wedding she was attending with her parents in the village of Pont-de-Beauvoisin in France's tranquil Isere region.