Properties in six departments searched over missing boy, 2, in France

The searches are the latest development in a case that has mystified investigators since July

Emile is still missing after disappearing from his grandparents’ house on July 8
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Thirty-six searches across six departments in France have been conducted in connection with Émile, aged 2, who went missing from Haut-Vernet (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence), in July.

The searches took place in six departments in the region, and concerned several homes in le Haut-Vernet. They have now finished without any major findings or breakthroughs being announced.

The boy’s grandparents’ home - where he was staying at the time of his disappearance - was not among the properties searched, according to FranceInfo although other media report that it was included.

It comes after a property, home to a 16-year-old boy originally from Vernet, was searched in October. The teenager, who has reportedly never been to school and belongs to a local farming family, has also been questioned several times. His mother’s car was also inspected by investigators.

The boy has never been arrested or officially considered a suspect.

July disappearance

Émile disappeared on July 8 from the hamlet of Haut-Vernet while his extended family were packing the car for a trip. He was seen by at least three witnesses walking away from the property, but this was not considered a concern at the time as children frequently walk and play freely in the hamlet.

He later disappeared and has not been seen since. All searches and leads have so far not led to any public announcements of findings or suspects. Searches by drones and sniffer dogs three weeks after Émile vanished did not present any findings. Phone records have also been reviewed.

An initial investigation into “the causes of a worrying disappearance”, opened on July 8, was later turned into an inquiry into possible “kidnapping, arbitrary arrest, detention and sequestration”.

No kidnapping alert was ever issued, but the mayor of neighbouring village Vernet - François Balique - has suggested that the boy’s disappearance must have involved another person.

There has been speculation that he could have been killed accidentally by farming equipment or a car, and later hidden.

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