Family and friends marched in silent tribute to Estelle, who has been missing for eight years.
A hundred or so people got together this Saturday, January 8th, at the Place du Temps Perdu in Germantes (Seine-et-Marne) as a tribute to little Estelle, who disappeared eight years ago. "She would have been in my class and taken her bac this year," Laetitia, her best childhood friend, recounted in a trembling voice. Her eyes moist, the teenager confided: "The hardest part is going back to the place where she disappeared without knowing if I will ever see her again."
It's Eric Mouzin, Estelle's father, who leads off the silent march with his other two children, Arthur and Lucie, at his side. With heads lowered and averted gaze, the family carry the banner, "Help us to find her." Traumatised by her daughter's disappearance, Estelle's mother, who moved to South Africa several years ago, is not present. The rest of the procession is made up of family friends and relatives, residents of the village, children and friends.
"When we were kids, we loved to shut ourselves away in Estelle's shed, where we would play for hours," remembers Keiran, a childhood friend. The young man describes, "a lively, happy and creative child." "Even if she was upset by her parents' divorce, she would never have run away," he adds. Members of Estelle's family, her father in particular, have always refused to accept the runaway theory.
Eric Mouzin, a reserved man of few words, calmly lists, "the failings of the legal system and the weaknesses of the investigation which never turned up anything concrete." For a long time accused in the disappearance of his daughter, he continues to protest his innocence, notably in a book, "Retrouver Estelle." And he repeats his aim, "to fight to the end to find the truth."
Shortly before 5pm, the march reaches its destination and the procession reassembles around a Japanese cherry tree, planted at the place where the little girl was seen by a friend for the very last time. "I hope she'll be with us next year," confides Estelle's Godfather. Then, the piece of music written specially for Estelle starts up. Everyone is quiet. A bouquet of flowers is laid and the crowd begins to disperse.