Who is Nordahl Lelandais? This is the thorny question to which the Court of Assizes of Isère will try to answer during this trial. The one his friends used to call “Nono” is on trial from Monday January 31 for the murder of the girl he says he killed “unintentionally” and for two cases of sexual assault on minors revealed by the examination of his cell phones during the investigation.
Nordahl Lelandais remains an enigmatic character, whose assize court of Isère will try to unravel the mystery. The profile of this 38-year-old former soldier has caused a lot of ink to flow since the disappearance of little Maëlys, 8, one night in August 2017 during a wedding party.
Nordahl Lelandais is 38 years old. At the age of 7, he moved with his family to Savoy. For several years, he led a peaceful childhood and an adolescence without any particular difficulty. Within the family, relations are good.
When the hour of his professional orientation strikes, he tries a CAP in automobile mechanics. In the end, he won’t graduate. In 2001, he enlisted in the army. He joins a canine battalion. Two years later, he obtained the technical certificate of assistant trainer. His superiors, however, evoke problems of discipline. Nordahl struggles with authority and is accused of disrupting unit cohesion. In 2005, he was discharged after receiving a dart in the eye.
Following this new failure, return to the family home near Chambéry. Then follow odd jobs without ever really finding one that satisfies him. Salesman, handler, paramedic… In 2010, he launched a canine training activity. Without success.
You don’t have to heat it
Those close to him evoke a helpful boy, although sometimes lazy and not very hardworking. His older brother speaks of a man changed since he joined the army. He describes it as more peaceful. For others, on the contrary, this transition to the army would be responsible for impulsive behavior. “You shouldn’t bother him. He was a soldier. It put his head a little upside down. So you shouldn’t heat him up”, entrusts one of his friends.
In life, Nordahl Lelandais is rather lost, in search of thrills. Especially during the period end of 2016-beginning of 2017 during which it seems to be drifting. “I wander” then “I send everything flying”, he said during his first trial, which was held last May near Chambéry. The 30-something uses cocaine. Each time a little more.
At the same time, and at a steady pace, he connects romantic relationships and one-night stands, with women but also, sometimes, with men. He uses two telephone lines: one for his loved ones and his family, the other for his sometimes short-lived relationships. Nordahl Lelandais frequents dating sites on which he sometimes lies about his true identity.
In 2017, he sexually assaulted minors around him: he admitted touching two little cousins aged 5 and 6 but denied the accusations of another 14-year-old cousin. The analysis of his mobile phones and his computer reveals, according to the investigators, that he consulted child pornography sites.
like a chameleon
By his ex-girlfriends, he is portrayed as a man with a split personality. As a couple, he knows how to be tender and attentive. But also a manipulator and a liar. During the phases of rupture, the man is threatening. “It’s stalking, it’s as if he wanted to create an atmosphere in which he prowled around me. He was waiting for his prey to be alone. He is always present in my environment. It never stops. He’s twisted,” told one of them to our colleagues from RTL France.
Psychiatrists confirm this tendency to mythomania advanced by his former companions. Like a chameleon, Nordahl seems to tell his life story in different ways depending on who he talks to. During an interrogation, the former soldier had claimed to hear voices. But for the experts, no sign of schizophrenia.
The father of little Maëlys, Joachim de Araujo, recently denounced this attitude. “He tries to pass himself off as someone crazy like that, it’s a way of saying ‘put me in a psychiatric cell, I’ll have a stay to do quietly’. For me, that’s what he’s planning to do. He is a very perverse and manipulative person”, he exclaimed at the microphone of RTL France.
For the psychologists who have examined him, Lelandais’ relationships are part of a fusional and/or passionate mode, this resulting from a strong emotional dependence. The experts conclude that the personality is of the perverse type and consider its forensic dangerousness to be significant. They describe someone as asocial, exhibiting “borderline” and “narcissistic” personality traits.
Answer to everything
During the drama, as throughout the investigation, Nordahl seems to have done everything possible to remain in control of events.
During the investigations, he regularly hides the truth. The investigators note that he manages, quite naturally, to adapt his statements according to the progress of the investigation. “One would think that you adapt your answers to the questions…”, also loose one of the investigating judges during yet another interrogation. “No, I don’t adapt, I try to remember memories of this evening as much as possible”, he replies, never wavering.
It was not until six months after his indictment that he admitted to having killed little Maëlys and told the investigators where he hid the body. This is allowed after the discovery of overwhelming evidence: a trace of the child’s blood found in the trunk of the ex-corporal’s car. Back to the wall, he finally confesses.
Imperturbable, he seems serene, not very talkative and acts with great composure. And it is precisely this perfect mastery that will intrigue the investigators. Who is Nordahl Lelandais really? Who is this man who has the answer to everything? To date, no element has made it possible to support the multiple speculations on his possible course of “serial killer”. A special cell went through more than 900 unsolved files for three years to try to find a link. No result.
His trial begins on January 31, summarized Sunday evening our special correspondent, Dominique Demoulin: