House search continues in case of boy, 2, missing from French village

Sniffer dogs and drones have been used in the latest search after the toddler disappeared in July

A Gendarmerie release photo of Emile, 2
Emile is still missing after disappearing from his grandparents’ house on July 8
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Police have searched a house in the French town of Le Vernet (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence) for a second day, as part of investigations into the disappearance of two-year-old boy Emile.

Emile went missing on July 8 this year during a stay at his grandparents’ house in Le Haut-Vernet (a hamlet above the main town), while his extended family packed the car for a trip. It is thought he may have walked off of his own accord. No sign has been seen of him since.

Read more: Boy, 2, still missing in French Alps

His parents are from La Bouilladisse (Bouches-du-Rhône), and he has a large extended family, with many relatives well-known in Le Vernet. The family is known for being religious.

‘On the margins of society’?

The searched house is home to a 16-year-old boy originally from Le Vernet.

Searches began on Tuesday, October 17, and have continued today (Wednesday, October 18). Five sniffer dogs and two drones were used in the search. Police are also investigating the mobile phones belonging to the family.

Drones and sniffer dogs were also used in searches around the town in August.

The 16-year-old has been described by some locals as “living on the margins of society” in the hamlet of Roussimal, 5 km from Le Vernet, reported BFMTV. He comes from a farming family and has reportedly never been to school.

A source close to the investigation said: “We are taking our investigations to the maximum…these are normal and planned searches.”

The Aix-en-Provence prosecutor, Jean-Luc Blachon, said that the operation was connected to “further investigations underway or already completed”. The searches may continue throughout the week.

There is no suggestion that the 16-year-old has been arrested or identified as a suspect.

Family of interest

The family has already been the subject of police interest in the case.

The teenager’s first cousin is one of only two witnesses to have said they saw Emile walking in the hamlet of Le Haut-Vernet on the day he disappeared.

In the summer the teenager’s mother was asked to bring her vehicle to the department officers to have it inspected by criminal investigators. The 16-year-old has also been questioned several times.

No further information or any possible results from the searches have been released.

So far no kidnap alert has been issued.

Instead some have suggested that Emile could have been involved in an accident, as it was harvesting time when he disappeared, and harvesters and tractors were moving around the fields.

Emile could have been fatally injured accidentally, with the perpetrator having panicked and hidden the body.

The 16-year-old in question has previously sparked alarm in Le Vernet due to careless driving of his quad bike around tourists, and the accidental release of hay bales, locals have said.

So far, however, this is only speculation, and no definite leads have been announced or confirmed.

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