France police find 'bones' of toddler missing in the Alps: prosecutor

The mystery of Emile's disappearance has gripped France (CHRISTOPHE SIMON)
The mystery of Emile's disappearance has gripped France (CHRISTOPHE SIMON)

French investigators have found and identified the "bones" of a toddler whose disappearance last summer in a tiny village in the French Alps shocked the nation, a prosecutor said Sunday.

Emile, two-and-a-half years old, was staying with his grandparents for the first day of the summer holidays when he vanished on July 8 last year.

Two neighbours last saw him in the late afternoon walking alone on a street in Le Vernet, a tiny village at an altitude of 1,200 metres (4,000 feet).

"On Saturday, the police was informed of the discovery of bones near the hamlet of Le Vernet," prosecutor Jean-Luc Blachon said.

Genetic testing allowed them "to conclude on Sunday that they were the bones of the child Emile," he added.

The prosecutor did not give a cause of death, but said that forensic investigators were continuing to analyse the bones.

"The police is deploying means to carry out additional searches in the area where they were found," he added.

A massive on-the-ground search involving dozens of police officers and soldiers, sniffer dogs, a helicopter and drones failed to find the little boy in July.

An initial probe into a missing person soon became a criminal investigation into a possible abduction. The possibilities of an accident or a fall have also remained open.

Police on Thursday returned to the village, cordoning off the area and summoning 17 people including family members, neighbours and witnesses to re-enact the last moments before he went missing to try to solve the mystery.

Drones flew overhead in the drizzle to capture footage of the re-enactment.

Emile's mother and father, devout Catholics, were absent on the day of his disappearance.

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