Emile: Clothes belonging to boy missing in French Alps since July found - days after remains discovered

3 April 2024, 02:00 | Updated: 3 April 2024, 03:52

The cause of death of a two-year-old who went missing in the French Alps in July remains unexplained, despite the discovery of his bones and clothing.

Last week, forensic tests showed that a skull found by a walker near Le Vernet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence belonged to the boy, known as Emile.

Some of his clothes - including a T-shirt, shoes and shorts - have now been found close to where the remains were discovered, according to the AFP news agency.

But prosecutor Jean-Luc Blanchon said the evidence found so far "does not indicate what the cause of the death of Emile was".

He added: "Between a fall, manslaughter and murder no hypothesis can be given greater precedence above another to explain the death."

Some marks were found on the skull, which, Mr Blanchon said could have been caused by animals after he died.

Emile's clothes are yet to be examined.

The little boy was last seen by two witnesses walking down a street near his grandparents' house on 8 July last year, according to authorities at the time.

He had arrived in the area the day before to stay with his maternal grandparents in a remote mountain village just outside Le Vernet for the summer holidays.

They realised Emile was missing when they went to put him in the car, local mayor Francois Balique said at the time.

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When he was last seen, Emile was less than 3ft tall and was wearing a yellow T-shirt and white shorts.

A massive ground search involving dozens of police officers and soldiers - supported by sniffer dogs, a helicopter and drones - failed to find him, as did a reconstruction in which his family took part.

A prosecutor said after several days it was unlikely such a young child would have survived in the summer heat.

The case, which began as a missing person investigation, soon became a criminal inquiry into a possible abduction, although police did not rule out murder, an accident or a fall.