Sad certainty in France: almost nine months after a two-year-old disappeared without a trace, investigators have found the child’s bones.

According to the gendarmerie, a person discovered the bones while walking near the mountain village of Le Vernet. According to the Aix-en-Provence public prosecutor’s office, the investigators’ genetic analysis showed that these were the bones of Émile, who had been missing since the beginning of July. “Pain and sorrow remain,” says a statement from the parents, quoted from the media. The child’s skull was reportedly found. Special gendarmerie forces were out on Sunday to continue searching the area around the site.

Émile’s disappearance caused great horror in France. Even months later, there is great media interest in the case. The two-and-a-half-year-old boy had been on holiday with his grandparents in the southern French town of Le Vernet when they lost sight of him towards the evening on July 8th. A number of other relatives were also staying with the grandparents at the time. Two witnesses said they saw the toddler running down a street.

Investigators cordoned off the village

In the days and weeks after the boy’s disappearance, the police repeatedly searched the area with a large number. Corpse detection dogs also combed the area. The investigators searched apartments in the small village with just 125 residents. It was only on Thursday that the remote location was cordoned off in order to recreate the day of the disappearance on the spot. The investigators are investigating kidnapping and deprivation of liberty, but have not ruled out an accident.

According to the newspaper “Le Parisien”, the bones that have now been found are incomplete. Accordingly, the boy’s skull was discovered. The broadcaster BFMTV also reported this. The cause of the child’s death is still unclear, the broadcaster wrote, citing investigators. “The next 48 hours will be crucial,” the medium quoted the source as saying. According to “Parisien”, it is also unclear whether the bones were found in an area that dogs had already searched or not. The bones could also have arrived at the site later, for example due to heavy rain.

The mayor of the town of Le Vernet, François Balique, told broadcaster BFMTV about the bone discovery: “I am relieved, but very sad because I had hoped that he would be found alive.” There was no word in town about the discovery the day before.

According to the two media outlets, Émile’s family was informed about the bone discovery in the morning. In a lawyer’s letter, which the newspaper and the broadcaster quote, it is said that the parents thanked the people who supported them. “While this heartbreaking news has been feared, now is the time for mourning, reverence and prayer.” In the fall, on the occasion of the boy’s birthday, Émile’s mother sent a voice message to anyone who knew anything about her child’s disappearance. “Tell us, out of mercy, where Émile is!” she said. “Give him back to us!”