French toddler Emile Soleil may have been eaten by a pack of wolves following discovery of 2-year-old's remains

19 April 2024, 08:27 | Updated: 19 April 2024, 08:31

French toddler Emile Soleil may have been eaten by a pack of wolves following discovery of 2-year-old's skull
French toddler Emile Soleil may have been eaten by a pack of wolves following discovery of 2-year-old's skull. Picture: Alamy

By Danielle De Wolfe

The mystery surrounding the disappearance of French toddler Emile Soleil has intensified after locals suggest he may have been set upon by a pack of wolves.

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The two-year-old disappeared last July while staying with his grandfather in the Vernet region of southern France.

Émile's skull was later discovered by a walker near the isolated Alpine village of Haut Vernet on March 20, less than a mile from the spot where the toddler was last seen.

Subsequent analysis of the bones revealed multiple "small fractures" and a bite marks to his skull.

It has led locals - including prosecutors, to float a chilling new theory, with increased speculation suggesting the severe injuries may have been inflicted by wild wolves roaming the region.

Émile's skull was later discovered by a walker near the isolated Alpine village of Haut Vernet on March 20, less than a mile from the spot where the toddler was last seen.
Émile's skull was later discovered by a walker near the isolated Alpine village of Haut Vernet on March 20, less than a mile from the spot where the toddler was last seen. Picture: X

Earlier this month, French police admitted they were no closer to solving the case into Émile's disappearance.

Authorities' initially speculated that the toddler had "wandered off" while staying with family.

Local mayor, François Balique, even suggested an adult may have been responsible.

At the time, he said: "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."

However, the recent discovery of the toddler's remains suggested an alternative story.

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Additional bone fragments were found earlier this month close to the spot where his skull was found.

Search teams led by gendarmes scoured the region with a 'tooth comb' following the toddler's disappearance last summer, the mayor told French media outlet Le Figaro.

Now, prosecutors have suggested the toddler met an altogether darker end.

The walker discovered the child's remains on a rural path connecting the Church and Chapel of the rural Alpine village of Haut Vernet.

Search teams led by gendarmes scoured the region with a 'tooth comb' following the toddler's disappearance last summer, the mayor told French media outlet Le Figaro.
Search teams led by gendarmes scoured the region with a 'tooth comb' following the toddler's disappearance last summer, the mayor told French media outlet Le Figaro. Picture: Alamy

Prosecutor Jean-Luc Blachon suggested that wild animals may have been responsible for the wide area across which Émile's bones were found.

He added that wounds inflicted by the jaws of wolves would be consistent with the "small fractures" and "bite marks" found on the skull.

Local residents have fuelled the theory following several reports of the wild animal in the area in recent months.

The the mayor now deems the wolf theory plausible given the increase in sightings.

Émile's mother spoke out following her son's disappearance, taking to a Facebook group named Pray for Emile.

Marie wrote in French: "We try to read all your messages, whether comments, PMs, letters... And are always very touched by your compassion."

Stéphane Chevrier, president of the Vernet hunters' association, told Le Figaro: "Our department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is one of the largest recorded wolf populations.

"Last September there were several attacks on cows and sheep near Vernet," he added.

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