French police have detained Jonathann Daval in connection with the death of his wife, Alexia. Daval has admitted to killing his wife, police say. Daval’s attorneys, Ornella Spatafora and Randall Schwerdorffer, say that their client killed his wife accidentally by strangling her. His attorneys state that the Davals had a troubled marriage, with elevated tensions due to their inability to conceive a child.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Daval Reported Alexia Missing in October
Jonathann Daval, a 34-year-old IT worker, informed police that his 29-year-old wife, Alexia, went missing in late October and disappeared. Thelocal.fr reports that Daval told police that Alexia went jogging in the Haute-Saone area and never came home.
Daval cried during televised press conferences, pleading for anyone with any information as to Alexia’s whereabouts to come forward. He also addressed the crowd during a silent march in Alexia’s honor, tearfully pleading for the safe return of his wife. He was flanked on either side by Alexia’s in-laws, who gently comforted him as he emotionally addressed the crowd, in a scene reminiscent of the film “Gone Girl.” However, unlike “Gone Girl,” Alexia is very much dead.
Daval appeared extremely distraught as he addressed the crowd, and the ensuing search for Alexia captivated France. When the news broke that Alexia’s body had been discovered, the country was devastated and heartbroken. And no one appeared to be more heartbroken than Jonathann Daval, the bereaved husband.
2. Alexia’s Battered & Burned Body Was Discovered in The Woods Hidden Under Some Tree Branches
It did not take long for Alexia’s remains to be located. Her body was left in the woods near her home in Gray-la-ville, partially covered by brush. She was found in close proximity to her regular running route.
Alexia’s body was badly burned, but her identity was confirmed through DNA testing. Thelocal.fr reports that Alexia was most likely beaten and strangled. Then, her body was set on fire in what was believed to be an attempt to destroy forensic evidence.
For several months, there were no leads in the case. Over the past three months, police interviewed over 200 people. A press conference is expected to be held to shed some light on what led to Daval’s arrest.
3. Daval Had Scratches & Bite Marks on His Hands
There were many red flags as far as Daval was concerned. His hands were covered in scratches and bite marks. Daval told investigators that he and his wife had an argument earlier in the day when she disappeared, which escalated and became violent. However, it is far more likely that the scratches and bite marks were defensive wounds.
Daval tried to explain Alexia’s wounds to police by stating that the two had had an argument earlier in the day. He further admitted that their marriage was a troubled and turbulent one, and that the two argued frequently. It is unknown if there was a history of violence between the Davals, or if the police had ever been called to their home to respond to a domestic disturbance.
In the meantime, more than 10,000 people assembled in a silent march in honor of Alexia. Her death not only affected her local community, but the entire nation of France as a whole.
4. Daval’s Attorneys State That Their Client ‘Accidentally’ Killed His Wife
Daval was initially considered to be a person of interest in the case, but he has now been classified as a suspect by police. After police searched the Daval residence, Daval was detained on Monday and taken into custody. It is unknown what evidence, if any, was removed by the authorities.
On Monday, Attorney Schwerdorffer stated that he not spoken with his client since his arrest, stating “the last time that I saw him, he confirmed to me that he was not in any way linked to the murder of his wife.” Previously, Daval denied any connection to the death of his wife.
However, in an updated statement, Schwerdorffer stated that his client has since admitted to killing his wife, but said that he did so accidentally. “He said it was an accident and he is sorry,” Schwerdorffer told the press. Schwerdorffer stated that his client strangled his wife, but that he did so accidentally. However, thelocal.fr states.
While Daval has admitted to killing his wife, he denies setting fire to her corpse. No other suspects have been arrested in connection with the case, and Daval insisted that he acted alone.
5. Daval’s Attorneys Have Blamed Daval’s Actions on Tensions Within The Davals’ Marriage
Daval’s attorneys have stated that the Davals argued the day that Alexia went missing, and that their marriage had been tumultuous in recent times.
“Investigators believe Mrs Daval’s death may have been the result of a ‘marital argument gone wrong. The couple, who were having difficulties conceiving a child, were ‘experiencing strong tensions’, sources told French media,” the BBC reports.
Attorneys for Daval have even gone so far as to imply that Alexia was to blame for her own death. “Alexia had an overwhelming personality, so he felt diminished, stifled. At one point too many words were said, a fit of anger proved too much, and he couldn’t control himself,” reports Channel News Asia.