French police investigating murder of nine-year-old girl re-open old cases

French police investigating the murder of a nine-year-old girl have appealed for information about two missing people who may be linked to the suspect.

The cases of Nelly Balmain, who disappeared in 2011, and Eric Foray, who went missing in 2016, have both been re-opened after months of investigation into Nordahl Lelandais, who has been charged with the murder of Maelys de Aruajo.

Undated photo released on Monday, August 28, 2017, by Gendarmerie Nationale shows a portrait of missing girl, Maelys de Aruajo. Photo: Gendarmerie Nationale via AP.

French media stressed that no proven link could currently be established, but investigators say witnesses could reveal important information.

Maelys disappeared from a wedding party last summer in the Chambery region, about 65km east of Lyon, sparking a huge search.

The suspect claims he killed the youngster accidentally and has shown police where he dumped her body in a ravine close to a wedding party both attended.

He is also suspected of murdering Arthur Noyer, who disappeared in April 2017.

Police search for Maelys de Aruajo in 2017. Photo via @Gendarmerie on Twitter.

Lelandais has admitted giving the 24-year-old soldier a lift on the night he was last seen, when he set out to hitchhike to his barracks on the way home from a nightclub.

Five months later parts of his skull were discovered near Chambery.

Nelly Balmain (29) was last seen in Saint-Jean-en-Royans, about 80km southwest of Chambery, on a red scooter on an August evening in 2011.

Eric Foray mysteriously vanished along with the gold-coloured 4x4 Suzuki he drove after leaving a bakery near Valence, southwest of the Chambery, in September 2016.

Lelandais is reported to have lived with his parents about 15km west of Chambery.

French media have previously reported that Lelandais could be linked to other disappearances, including those of Jean-Christophe Morin and Ahmed Hamadou, who both vanished from the same festival one year apart.

Earlier this month, police were pictured leaving Lelandais' house after searching the property as part of their investigations.

He has been in custody since September in connection with Maelys' disappearance, and France has been gripped by the case.

The call for witnesses on the previously closed cases is the first since operation "Ariane", a devoted investigation into Lelandais, began.

The lawyer representing the families of Ms Balmain and Mr Foray has accused French authorities of "inertia" over their cases, which remain unsolved.

- Digital Desk

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