Soldier Who Lured, Killed 8-Year-Old From Wedding Party Gets Life in Prison

On Friday, a man was found guilty in French court and sentenced to life in prison, with a guaranteed minimum of 22 years incarceration, for the 2017 murder of an 8-year-old girl he confessed to having lured from a wedding.

Nordhal Lelandais, a 39-year-old former soldier, confessed to the murder and said he didn't mean to kill Maelys de Araujo in August 2017 when he hit her several times after she began to cry after being lured into his car, according to the Associated Press.

Lelandais was already serving a 20-year sentence for killing Arthur Noyer, another young soldier, in April 2017, according to EuroNews. He was also found guilty of sexually abusing two cousins, ages 4 and 6, and is accused of sexually assaulting another 14-year-old cousin.

Lelandais lured Araujo to his car in 2017 with an offer to "see his dogs" and allegedly said they would return to the reception. Lelandais did not state, and investigators could not determine, whether the young girl was sexually abused before she died, the AP reported. Lelandais reportedly said that he experienced a "hallucination" and saw Noyer's face while panicking over his actions, leading him to hit Araujo multiple times in the face, according to EuroNews.

He was eventually named as a suspect and led investigators to where the girl's body was buried about six months later, after her blood was identified in his car, according to EuroNews.

"I know the families will never accept my excuses, but I present them with the greatest sincerity," Lelandais said as part of his apologies to the girl's family in court Friday.

Prosecutors said that his history means Lelandais represents a significant danger to those around him and argued that he should receive the maximum sentence, which the jury and court agreed with, according to EuroNews. He also admitted previously to having a history of drug and alcohol problems and that he was sexually attracted to young girls.

His conviction will not be appealed, his lawyer said Friday, adding that he told Lelandais that the young girl's family did not deserve to suffer through that process, the AP reported. Lelandais was described by psychiatric experts as psychopathic, narcissistic and a pathological liar.

Update 2/18/22 2:08 p.m. EST: This story has been updated with additional context and information.

Specialists from the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) sexual assault hotline are available 24/7 via phone (1 (800) 656-4673) and online chat. Additional support from the group is also accessible via the mobile app.

Nordhal Lelandais France Murder Life Sentence
Nordhal Lelandais was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison on Friday for the murder of an 8-year-old girl. Above, people hold a banner on September 24, 2018, reading "Truth and justice for you Maelys. We will never give up" as a convoy of French police vehicles carrying Nordahl Lelandais leaves Pont-de-Beauvoisin, the town where 8-year-old Maelys de Araujo was abducted before being murdered in August 2017, on its way to Lelandais' hometown, in southern France. Jean-Phillipe Ksiazek/AFP via Getty Images