“My son is not a monster, what he did was horrible”

Since Jonathann Daval killed his wife, Alexia, in their house in Gray (Haute-Saône), in October 2017, Martine Henry has said little. Mother of the “monster” who killed the young 29-year-old banker, but also of the one who lied to all of France, participating in a white march, tears in her eyes, with Alexia’s parents, Isabelle and Jean-Pierre. Fouillot, he had long preferred to remain silent. During the trial that resulted in her son being sentenced to twenty-five years in prison on November 21, 2020, the child’s guardian was a mere witness. Two years later, the 66-year-old mother of seven, grandmother and great-grandmother decided to speak out. In his book to be published on Thursday*, he tells it like it is “mother of a criminal”.

Why did you decide to tell your “Daval affair”?
Since the night of October 28-29, 2017, everything has been like a waking nightmare. Like I don’t own anything anymore. Alexia’s family has spoken and that is normal. I want to speak in my turn. To show that the truth is always more complicated. My son Jonathann is not a monster, even though what he did was horrible.

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Jonathann is a good man who did horror

How did you experience the ultra-mediatization of this case?
I stayed in my house, very close to the crime scene. My place is here. It didn’t bother me too much, apart from two incidents. An uncle of Alexia’s came shouting “murderer” under my windows; a stranger sent me dirt through the mail. I am a childminder and the three families that employ me support me. “Jonathan will always be Jonathan”, one of the mothers who knew him as a schoolboy told me. It’s surprising, but Jonathann is a good person who does horror.

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How is this possible?
I’m not explaining. Even now, I think about it all the time. His lawyer spoke of “a pressure cooker effect”. A lot has accumulated that has not been said.

Also read – Alexia Daval case: how Jonathann Daval trapped himself in lies

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Do you feel guilty sometimes?​
Of course! After such a drama, we see everything that happened since childhood and we ask ourselves. What am I doing ? What did I miss? Jonathann was a quiet, solitary child. School went well. We will never know, I believe.

We don’t bring a child into the world to drop it when it needs us

Without condoning his actions, you always support your child. Is it obvious?
Yes. No matter what he does, I’ll always be here. We don’t bring a child into the world to drop it when it needs us.

How does he experience imprisonment?
It took a while before we got a visit permit. At first, Jonathann spent four months without seeing anyone. “He let himself die”, his lawyers told us. When we finally saw him again, in April 2018, he weighed only 30 kilos. After this first visit, the supervisors asked if we intended to return. We looked at them with round eyes. Even now, my husband and I go to see him every weekend. There is a before and after test for him. Now he works and does a lot of sports. He was in the prison of Ensisheim (Bas-Rhin) where he rubbed shoulders, for example, with the serial killers Guy Georges and Francis Heaulme. Sounds incredible to me. But now, I don’t have the same boundary, there is the man and the work.

Can you imagine his release from prison?
It’s too early, we don’t have a plan. Neither did Jonathann, who never asked his lawyers what sentence he risked getting, or me. One thing is certain, he needs to change regions.

Obviously, our fate cannot be compared to that of Alexia’s family.

Do you understand that it is difficult to have mercy for you?​
Obviously, our fate cannot be compared to that of Alexia’s family. Isabelle and Jean-Pierre Fouillot will never be able to hug their son again. I feel great pain for them, for Alexia. But in writing this book, I hope that some people can put themselves in my shoes. Too bad… If Jonathann had spoken up then, we might have helped him. So that it doesn’t come to that.

Your son lied to everyone, including you. Do you believe in his innocence?
Looking back, I feel like I stopped him from telling the truth. After Alexia died and before Jonathann went to jail, I went to lunch with him almost every day. He watched TV, I read. He didn’t speak. When I asked her, she cried. He tried to tell me: “I’m the wife, so the main suspect, expect me to go to jail.” » I hung up, I answered no, it’s not possible.

Can’t believe your child is a criminal?
No, and no one else. Everyone believed him. Because Jonathann is not suitable and criminal. He then lived in denial, he didn’t want to fail.

Once the truth was known, many people were surprised by her tears during the white march.
Yes I understand. But I think at that time he was really sad. His tears were sincere.

What was your reaction to the confrontation between Jonathann Daval and Isabelle Fouillot, which led to his confession in December 2018?
I was on the sidewalk in court with my husband and another of my sons. I learned everything there: two journalists warned me about the developments. Then a car drove up to Jonathann when I couldn’t meet his gaze. That night, I believed that I could never go home, to continue my life.​​

It was strange to see his son’s life cut apart in this way, to be there, without the right to speak

How did you experience the test?
I almost couldn’t attend. The Covid epidemic restricted the number of people authorized to enter the room and priority was given to civil parties. At first, there was no room for me. Fortunately, my attorneys Randall Schwerdorffer and Ornella Spatafora were able to get me and my family to attend. But fifteen days before, I started suffering from a herniated disc. I attended the debates in a wheelchair. Even though Jonathan is often buried in his box, he can feel my gaze.

What does he expect from justice?
He just wanted to say what he did and know his pain, nothing more. For me, there are things that are hard to hear and have nothing to do with the whole of France. My son is said to be impotent… even if it’s just continuously on the news channels. It was strange to see his son’s life cut in this way, who was there, had no right to speak. When Isabelle Fouillot tells Jonathann that he is not a man, it is out of place.

The conflict between your two families and your son-in-law is at the heart of the affair. Now, how do you view this aspect?
It’s complicated, she died… But I want to tell the truth. Alexia is human and not the perfect creature her parents portray. For him, we weren’t good enough. He made us feel. He forbade Jonathann to visit me, he had to do it secretly. But when they got married, I was moved as I accompanied Jonathann to the altar, so handsome in his embroidered black suit, which he wore to the funeral. She is his cuddly toy, she is his princess. The important thing is that they were happy together.​

“I, Jonathann Daval’s mother”Michalon editions, 136 pages, 16 euros.

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