The relatives of Alexia Daval take part in a silent march gathering nearly 1000 people in Gray on Sunday. PHOTO: SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP
Alexia Daval, a 29-year-old bank worker, disappeared last weekend after heading out for a run from her home in the rural Haute-Saone area to the northeast of France's Burgundy wine-growing area.
Her badly burned body was found in a nearby wood on Monday and an autopsy has determined she was strangled to death, but police have not yet made any arrests and the identity of her attacker remains unknown.
The seemingly random nature of the murder in a quiet town of around 5,000 people has led to national attention, with hundreds of joggers paying homage to her on Saturday by running in cities across France.
“With these sporting gestures, you are making Alexia into a strong symbol, one of the freedom for all women to enjoy running and to live,” her mother Isabelle Fouillot said through tears as she addressed the rally on Sunday.
Many of the 8,000 to 10,000 people who joined the march and listened to speeches from Daval's devastated husband and family brought white roses which were placed in front of her parents' tobacco shop in the town.