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'An Absolute Innocent,' The True Tragic Tale Behind HBO’s New Series 'Laetitia'

French teen Laetitia Perrais was killed and dismembered by Tony Meilhon after living a life filled with abuse.

Laetitia Hbo

HBO’s new miniseries “Laetitia” is a riveting crime drama series that follows the investigation into a French girl’s disappearance and it’s based on a real life, and tragic 2011 case.

The series, directed by Jean-Xavier de Lestrade — who is behind such true crime classics like “The Staircase” and “Murder on a Sunday Morning” begins shortly after 18-year-old Laetitia’s scooter is found lying in the road by her twin sister. Her sibling and her foster parents then desperately search for her as the series explores her difficult past.

The case is based on the infamous French 2011 murder of Laetitia Perrais. Just as in the series, her twin sister Jessica found her scooter lying in the road on a cold January night outside their home. She had left the house the night before for her job waitressing at a nearby hotel and her family became distraught when they realized she had been missing all night.

Investigators soon discovered that the teen crossed paths with Tony Meilhon, a man in his thirties, the night before her sister found her scooter. He kidnapped and killed Laetitia before hiding her dismembered body in two ponds, French paper Midi Libre reported in 2013. Meilhon initially claimed he accidentally killed Perrais by hitting her scooter with her car. But witnesses saw the two sharing a drink the night she vanished.

He was sentenced to life behind bars in 2015 after he was ultimately found guilty of both murdering and dismembering the teen, Le Parisien reported in 2015.

"Outside, I am a danger for myself as much as I am a danger for others,” were his final words to the court.

One hundred journalists reportedly attended the trial, according to Midi Libre.

"He took a person very dear to me from me, I miss her every day, all I would like is that. is that she is by my side, "Jessica testified in 2015, French channel BMF-TV reported at the time.

Both siblings, who were placed with foster families when they were young, were sexually assaulted by their foster father Gilles Patron. He was sentenced to eight years in prison for the abuse, BMF-TV reports. The series focuses on the abusive childhood that the girls grew up in as well as the societal failures that contributed to it.

"Laetitia was the victim of the most heinous crime: she was a particularly fragile young girl who had a rather sad life (...) but was starting to get away with it ... A good girl who was killed in a night of horror ... An absolute innocent: she did nothing to deserve that,” Advocate General Stéphane Cantero said in court in 2015, according to Le Parisien. 

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