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French investigators find bones of missing toddler in Alps

March 31, 2024

Authorities say that remains discovered belong to a 2-year-old who went missing from an Alpine hamlet in July.

Local police man a cordon blocking access to Haut-Vernet in southeastern France
The remains of a 2-year-old boy who went missing fom his grandparents home in July 2023 have been confirmed to have been foundImage: Thibaut Durand/ABACA/picture alliance

Investigators in France said the remains of a small boy discovered on Saturday have been positively identified to be those of a 2-year-old boy who went missing in July last year.

The remains were discovered near the mountain village of Le Vernet, not far from the mountain hamlet where the toddler disappeared while on a visit to his grandparents in July 2023.

What authorities have said

"On Saturday, the police were informed of the discovery of bones near the hamlet of Le Vernet," prosecutor Jean-Luc Blachon said who went on to explain that DNA testing allowed them "to conclude on Sunday that they were the bones of the child Emile."

No cause of death could be provided, but further analysis of the bones would still take place.

"The police are deploying means to carry out additional searches in the area where they were found," Blachon said.

Police pictutred near the hamlet of Haut-Vernet
The missing toddler had arrived the day before to stay with his grandparents in their secondary home for the holidaysImage: Bertrand Riotord/Le Dauphine Libere/MAXPPP/picture alliance

Large-scale search at the time of disappearance

The disappearance of the toddler last year led to a massive search involving police, soldiers, sniffer dogs, a helicopter and drones.

Two neighbors reported last seeing him walking alone on a street in Le Vernet, which lies at an altitude of 1,200 meters (4,000 feet) above sea level in the French Alps.

A missing person probe developed into a criminal investigation into the possibility of an abduction.

On Thursday, the village was cordoned off for a recreation of the circumstances that took place around the time the boy was last seen.

AFP news agency cited a source close to the case as saying that a walker spotted the remains.

kb/rc (dpa, AFP)