“I loved my daughter very much. I would like her to come back, but how?” said Thi Huong Le Tan, 50, Sophie’s mother, in a choked voice, whose words in Vietnamese were translated by an interpreter. .

On the first day of the trial on Monday, this discreet woman had collapsed, coming close to fainting the moment Jean-Marc Reiser entered the dock. She had been evacuated by rescuers even before the start of the hearing.

“She was Sophie the main person in the family, now she is no longer there,” said Ms. Le Tan, sentences broken by sobs.

“I no longer have a future, like the family”, continued Ms. Le Tan, who remembers that, for Sophie’s 20th birthday, “we wanted a big birthday”.

Her daughter disappeared on September 7, 2018, the same day she was supposed to celebrate her 20th birthday. Student in Strasbourg, Sophie Le Tan was going to visit an apartment in the north of the city, she will no longer give any sign of life. His dismembered body was found in the forest in October 2019.

After several minutes of painful testimony, Sophie’s mother finally let go: “I’m in too much pain, I want to stop”.

– “Daily horror” –

One of the defense lawyers, Me Francis Metzger, then stands up: “Madam, we bow to your pain”. Behind him, face down in his box, Jean-Marc Reiser, usually impassive, takes off his mask briefly and wipes his eyes.

“The family has not yet received a pardon from their daughter’s murderer,” said her father, Tri Le Tan, also speaking Vietnamese. “Sophie is no longer there, for the family it’s like a phoenix that has lost a wing, injured and forever.”

“The horror is unimaginable, like a small fire that burns slowly and every day and it doesn’t stop,” he continued.

Cousin of Sophie, “a ray of sunshine”, Nadine also explained that all the members of the family are “inhabited by this horror on a daily basis”.

Without looking away from the accused, the Strasbourg town planner stressed that Jean-Marc Reiser, already convicted of rape and acquitted for lack of evidence in another disappearance, was “a repeat offender”. “All this misfortune could have been avoided if he had not been released”.

Sophie Le Tan, whose worker father arrived in France from Vietnam in 1988, grew up near Mulhouse in a close-knit family before studying economics and management in Strasbourg. To avoid being a burden on her parents, she had a job as a receptionist in a hotel.

– “Key role in the family” –

Speaking French, Vietnamese, German and English, the young woman was often the interpreter for her parents and helped them with all the administrative procedures.

“She had a key role in the family,” said her older brother Philippe, 24. It was she “who made me move forward”. The boy, withdrawn, had sent him a message on September 7 before going to class: “Happy birthday!”.

Her relatives described her, to an expert commissioned by the examining magistrate, as feeling good about herself, a faithful friend, an independent and responsible daughter, a caring sister. She was also suspicious of people she didn’t know.

“Sophie was a great person, she brought a lot of good to those around her,” confirmed Sylvie, her younger sister, at the helm.

Since her death, “it’s not the same, it has really changed, there is no more joy, no way to be happy”, breathes the one who had not yet found the strength to appear in court court in Strasbourg since the start of the trial on Monday.

Among her family, friends, teachers or employers interviewed during the survey, none will say a negative word about Sophie Le Tan. “No, I confirm,” replied the expert.