Emile Soleil: Clothes found near remains of French toddler in Alps

Clothes of a French boy who disappeared nine months ago were found just days after a hiker discovered his remains.

Police said that some of the clothes Emile Soleil was wearing on the day he went missing were recovered along the Alpine path on Tuesday.

Public prosecutor Jean-Luc Blanchon confirmed that the police had located Emile’s T-shirt, pants, and shoes, which were “not gathered in the same place, but scattered over a few metres”.

Emile, 2, disappeared from a family reunion at his grandparents’ house in Le Vernet – a small village in the Alpes-des-Haute-Provence with around 125 residents – on 8 July last year, sparking a huge search involving drones, sniffer dogs, and helicopters.

Hikers in the Alps stumbled upon the remains of the toddler, including his skull, near the remote property on Saturday. Remy Avon, the lead prosecutor overseeing the investigation into his disappearance, said that they are exploring the possibilities of murder, kidnapping, or an accident.

An unnamed woman found Emile’s skull “between noon and 2pm, during a walk on a path that she remembers having walked a month before”, Jean-Luc Blanchon, the public prosecutor said.

“She was disturbed by this discovery and placed [the skull] in a plastic bag. She went home and called the police. She was able to pinpoint exactly where she found [the skull].”

He continued: “These bones by themselves do not allow us to say what the cause of Emile’s death is. Between a fall, manslaughter or murder, no theory can be treated as more likely than another.”

Prosecutors in Aix-en-Provence released a statement on Sunday confirming that genetic analysis had confirmed that the bones belonged to Emile. However, police are continuing their investigation at the scene.

Mr Blanchon said the skull had sustained “small fractures and cracks” after the boy’s death, and bite marks made by an animal.

“No trauma has been observed [on the skull] ante-mortem,” he added.

The mayor of Vernet, Francois Balique, told Le Figaro that the area in which Emile’s bones were discovered was being “excavated”.

“It is a place where hunters and their dogs and residents pass daily and where forestry work was carried out in the autumn,” he said.

After the discovery of his remains, Emile’s parents issued a statement: “This heart-breaking news was feared, and the time has come for mourning, contemplation and prayer.”

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