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Search for Emile to end: French police to stop hunting for boy missing from ‘cursed’ hamlet but will 'evaluate evidence'
13 July 2023, 11:48 | Updated: 13 July 2023, 12:14
Police have stopped their major land and sea search for a two-year-old boy who went missing from a hamlet in the French Alps.
Investigators will move to a phase of ‘evaluating evidence already gathered’ as they work out their next steps in their efforts to trace the boy.
A final area of the hamlet of Le Vernet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence was searched today in a last effort to trace any clues.
The final stages of the search come as police said that blood found on the front of a car in the hamlet where he disappeared is not human.
The blood was analysed and was likely from an animal, French media reports.
In a statement to La Provence, local prosecutor Remy Avon said analysis had revealed the sample “was not human blood but animal blood”.
Mr Avon said search efforts so far did not yield any clues to solving the mystery of the boy’s disappearance.
He added: “The investigation into the causes of his disappearance will continue, notably through analysis of the considerable amount of information and elements gathered over four days.”
Emile was last seen playing in the garden of a property in the hamlet while his grandparents were getting ready to take him on a trip. Police were notified he was missing at around 5.15pm on Saturday.
At least 10 people were present at the property where Emile was last seen amidst a family reunion, with “several uncles and aunts of the child, of all ages, including some minors.”
Final search efforts for the boy are due to be called off at 4pm today.
A close family member said Emile comes from a close-knit family.
“They always do everything together. You know, when you have enough children to form two teams to play ball, there is no need to mix.”
The family member added that Emile’s mother is the eldest of ten siblings.
Locals have described the family as “very quiet and pious” and “very religious”.
The two-year-old boy’s family “goes to mass and sings religious hymns in Latin”, residents told local network BFM DICI.
“They are very good people. A happy, carefree and problem-free family, very loving and very believing. It seems incredible, inconceivable”, said Therese, a resident of La Bouilladisse, where the toddler lives with his family.
Jean-Marcel, a friend of the grandparents of the missing toddler, said the child could not have simply “evaporated” from the hamlet.
“On Saturday night I heard the news on the phone and said to myself that they will find the boy,” he said.
“Then afterwards, when 24 hours, 48 hours passed and you realize that a two-and-a-half-year-old can’t evaporate like that, it’s a big worry.”
Locals speaking to French media said they are worried their village may be “cursed” while recalling it was the site of a gruesome murder and a devastating plane crash that left 149 people dead.