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29 February 2024

Husband detained over murdered French jogger


French police on Monday detained an IT worker whose wife was murdered while out jogging in a grisly case that shocked the country.

The charred body of Alexia Daval, a 29-year-old bank employee, was found in a wood in October in Esmoulins, eastern France.

She had been beaten and probably strangled, prosecutors said, before her killer set fire to her body and hid it under tree branches a few kilometres (miles) from her usual jogging route.

Her husband Jonathann, 34, said at the time that his wife had gone out running and never came back.

The case shocked residents of the couple's bucolic town of Gray, with nearly 10,000 people turning out for a silent march in her memory in November.

Hundreds of people organised group running excursions across the country in tribute to the murdered young woman.

Local prosecutor Edwige Roux-Morizot told AFP that police had detained Jonathann Daval at his home in Gray on Monday morning and taken him into custody.

The home was searched before it was sealed off by the police Monday afternoon.

A police source said Daval was still being questioned Monday evening, while the prosecutor's office said a press conference was planned for Tuesday afternoon.

Daval, initially questioned as a witness, had told police he argued with his wife on the day before her disappearance, which he said explained why she had scratches and bite marks on her hands.

But so far no witnesses have come forward saying they saw Alexia running that day, and police are exploring the possibility that a "marital dispute may have turned bad".

A source close to the case said that a neighbour had told police that a car left their property the night before her disappearance, and that investigators suspect Jonathann Daval may have "lied about what he had been doing at the time".

But his lawyer Randall Schwerdorffer told AFP on Monday: "He confirmed to me that in no way was he involved one way or another in his wife's death.