Sat. Apr 20th, 2024
alert-–-was-little-emile-soleil-murdered?-mystery-over-how-missing-french-toddler’s-bones-were-found-in-area-searched-‘with-a-tooth-comb’-by-police-eight-months-ago-as-it’s-feared-they-were-dumped-there-‘very-recently’-–-with-heartbroken-parents-wracked-by-‘pain’Alert – Was little Émile Soleil murdered? Mystery over how missing French toddler’s bones were found in area searched ‘with a tooth comb’ by police eight months ago as it’s feared they were dumped there ‘very recently’ – with heartbroken parents wracked by ‘pain’

The discovery of French toddler Émile Soleil’s remains close to his home this weekend in an area of an Alpine village ‘already thoroughly searched’ by police has led locals to believe he was murdered.

Ramblers found the bones of two-year-old Émile on Saturday in the idyllic Alpine hamlet of Le Vernet where he went missing last July. 

A source close to the investigation told that only part of the body was found, with some bones and the skull being recovered.

Le Vernet’s mayor François Balique told Le Figaro newspaper the remains were located ‘on a path between the Church and Chapel’ of the village – an area he said had previously ‘been thoroughly searched by gendarmes’ with a ‘tooth comb’.

He said it was ‘absolutely incomprehensible’ that Émile got into trouble by himself.

‘I can’t help but believe that an adult is involved in this matter. Émile would never have gone alone to where he was found,’ Mr Balique said.

This adds an extremely disturbing element to the progress of the investigation, said the source, suggesting the remains had been deposited there some time after Émile’s disappearance.

‘It’s unlikely animals would bring human remains back into the village where someone went missing.

‘This leads to the theory that a person has brought Émile’s remains back, and potentially very recently,’ the source said.

Meanwhile, Émile’s parents, Marie and Colomban Soleil, told of their ‘pain and sorrow’ in a statement provided to press on Easter Sunday via their lawyer Jerome Triomphe.

‘This heartbreaking news was feared… (They) know on this Resurrection Sunday that Émile watches over them in the light and tenderness of God. 

‘Marie and Colomban would like to thank all those who helped and supported them as well as the investigating judges and investigators for their work, their professionalism, their personal commitment and their humanity which were of great comfort to them, in recent months and in particular on this day… But the pain and sorrow remain’.

‘The time has come for mourning, contemplation and prayer.’

Ramblers discovered the remains of two-year-old Émile Soleil (pictured) close to the home

Ramblers discovered the remains of two-year-old Émile Soleil (pictured) close to the home

The road to Haut-Vernet is blocked by a gendarmerie checkpoint at the village of Le Vernet, France, picturedon Sunday

The road to Haut-Vernet is blocked by a gendarmerie checkpoint at the village of Le Vernet, France, picturedon Sunday

The Alpine hamlet of Le Haut-Vernet in France pictured on Sunday, after French investigators found the remains of the toddler who went missing last summer

The Alpine hamlet of Le Haut-Vernet in France pictured on Sunday, after French investigators found the remains of the toddler who went missing last summer

The entrance of the French southern Alps village of Le Vernet, near where Émile went missing

The entrance of the French southern Alps village of Le Vernet, near where Émile went missing

Speaking this morning, Le Vernet mayor Balique said he could not understand why the remains hadn’t been found sooner.

‘There are people who regularly use the path nearby. I used it last week. The volunteer searchers have been there, I’m sure.

‘I was there during the beatings [on the ground by those searching for Émile] and the gendarmes couldn’t have missed him with the dogs.

READ MORE – Remains of little French boy Émile Soleil who vanished without trace eight months ago aged two are found in the Alps just two miles from his grandfather’s house

‘There was even a logging there in the Autumn. The wood cutters didn’t see anything either. It’s incomprehensible.’

Gilles Thézan, another resident of Haut-Vernet, told Le Parisien: ‘There’s a trick going on.

‘The body was found only one or two kilometers from Haut-Vernet, in a place which had already been searched and re-searched, notably with dogs.

‘Everything was raked from top to bottom. There’s no way anyone wouldn’t have seen it before.

‘It’s an unclear story. I say that the little one died and that somone went to hide him there much later.

‘We’re going to have to find the culprit. Now that we have found little Émile, the police will be able to speed up their investigation, even with what remains of the body.’

Le Vernet is made up of Haut-Vernet (High Vernet) and Bas-Vernet (Lower-Vernet) and there is a Saint Pancras Chapel, as well as two Roman Catholic churches – Saint Martin’s in Haut Vernet and Saint Martha’s Bas-Vernet. 

On Sunday, the whole of Vernet was blockaded by police, with nobody allowed in or out.

The macabre discovery on Saturday was today described as a key breakthrough in a criminal enquiry that has baffled detectives since they launched a frantic search in the Le Vernet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence back on July 8.

The mysterious case has drawn comparisons with hit BBC drama The Missing, in which a young boy vanishes while on holiday with his Family in France. 

A statement released by public prosecutors in Aix-en-Provence on Sunday said ‘genetic analysis identifies’ the bones as belonging to Èmile.

It added that ‘criminalistic analysis’ was also underway, and that gendarmes were carrying out ‘additional research’ in the area where they were found.

Police closed off the village on March 27 to everyone except investigators and residents, and restrictions remain in place as cops gather further information about the remains found today.

A cause of death has not yet been established. 

Police closed off the village on March 27 to everyone except investigators and residents

Police closed off the village on March 27 to everyone except investigators and residents

Gendarmes meticulously search the outskirts of the village of Vernet last July

Gendarmes meticulously search the outskirts of the village of Vernet last July

Restrictions remain in place as cops gather further information about the remains found today

Restrictions remain in place as cops gather further information about the remains found today

READ MORE: The mystery of little Emile, who vanished during trip to ‘the village of the damned’ in case compared to The Missing: Run over by a combine harvester? Killed and buried by locals? Four months on, how DID a two-year-old vanish without a trace?

A source told : ‘It is being analysed, along with his bones, in an attempt to establish the cause of death.

‘The deceased’s teeth have all been recovered too, but some other elements of the body are gone.

‘Drones and sniffer dogs are combing the entire area of countryside to try and find more.

‘It may be that body parts were taken away by wild animals, but no theory is being ruled out,’ the source added.

José Morale, mayor of La Bouilladisse, the town near Marseille where Émile’s family live for most of the year, said: ‘We will do our best to support them.

‘For the parents, it’s very complicated. There is no relief, the sadness is infinite, we are all dejected.’

While a key investigating source said Émile’s remains were found in countryside, some two miles away from the hamlet, its mayor said they were discovered within its boundaries.

There had been no trace of Émile since he went missing eight months ago, with investigators refusing to rule out any theory for the tragedy, including abduction and murder.

Émile was officially in the care of local physiotherapist Philippe Vevodini on the day of his disappearance, as his parents took a break.

A witness saw Mr Vedovini cutting wood outside his house around the time Émile is thought to have wandered off.

Mr Vedovini is a devout Catholic who gave up a vocation to become a monk, in order to marry his wife, Anne Vedovini.

They brought up 10 children, including Émile’s mother, who is now known by her married name of Marie Soleil after she married Émile’s father, Colomban Soleil, 26.

There had been no trace of Émile since he went missing eight months ago

There had been no trace of Émile since he went missing eight months ago

The macabre discovery on Saturday was today described as a key breakthrough in a criminal enquiry that has baffled detectives

The macabre discovery on Saturday was today described as a key breakthrough in a criminal enquiry that has baffled detectives 

Volunteers take part in a search operation for Emile on July 10

Volunteers take part in a search operation for Emile on July 10

The extreme-right wing political background of the family has also been examined by police. Émile’s father, Colomban Soleil, 26, was arrested for ‘an attack on foreigners’ in 2018.

READ MORE: Revealed: Grandfather of little Émile, two, who vanished from sleepy village in case that gripped France was interviewed during probe into child abuse scandal at school where pupils ‘were raped and beaten by monks’ 

A countryside search for Émile was carried out after the little boy disappeared, but it yielded nothing.

He appeared before judges in Aix-en-Provence, and was released from custody after pledging to maintain the peace.

At the time, Mr Soleil was an activist linked to Action Francaise, the far-Right nationalist and royalist group, as well as the neofascist Bastion Social.

Three years later, in 2021, both Mr Soleil and his wife stood as local election candidates in the Marseille area, supporting the Reconquest party of Éric Zemmour, the convicted racist and Islamophobe who tried to become president of France last year.

Their election slogans at the time identified them as ‘friends of Éric Zemmour’ who wanted to ‘clean out the system’.

Lead prosecutor Rémy Avon, who is heading the judicial inquiry into Émile’s disappearance said the possibilities that Émile had been murdered, kidnapped, or got involved in an accident were all being looked at.

He confirmed that Émile’s parents’ home, in the southern town of La Bouilladisse, near Marseille, was searched back in July, while the grandparents homes nearby, and in the Alps, were also raided.

The saga evokes the BBC series, The Missing, in which a young boy vanishes whilst on holiday with his family in France, only to be killed in a hit-and-run accident after chasing a fox.

French gendarmes take part in the search operation for two-year-old Emile in July 2023

French gendarmes take part in the search operation for two-year-old Emile in July 2023

Volunteers take part in the search operation for Emile on July 10

Volunteers take part in the search operation for Emile on July 10

Two gendarmes meticulously search the surroundings of a house on July 13 2023

Two gendarmes meticulously search the surroundings of a house on July 13 2023

This was an appeal for witnesses after the little boy went missing

This was an appeal for witnesses after the little boy went missing  

Émile’s family had called on people to pray to Benoîte Rencurel – a French shepherd said to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary from 1664 to 1718.

Residents of Vernet meanwhile referred to the place as a cursed ‘village of the damned’ because of its links with disaster.

In March 2015, Vernet was also cordoned off following a horrific air crash in which 150 people died, including two babies.

Germanwings Airbus A320 was deliberately brought down by co-pilot Andres Lubitz, who had previously been treated for suicidal tendencies.

Many Vernet residents took part in high mountain searches for possible survivors at the time.

They also opened their homes to family and friends of those who perished in the disaster.

The inhabitants of Vernet were also shaken by the murder of a local café manager in the village 15 years ago.

Jeannette Grosos, who ran the Café du Moulin, was brutally killed by a customer in 2008.

Mayor François Balique said: ‘It was a real drama for the whole village – one which it has had a hard time recovering.’

One resident of Vernat said: ‘Everybody is saying it – Vernet feels like a village of the damned.’