Bones of two-year-old Émile Soleil discovered in French Alps eight months after disappearance

  • 01/04/2024
Two-year-old Émile Soleil.
Two-year-old Émile Soleil. Photo credit: Gendarmerie Nationale

The remains of Émile Soleil who has been missing for eight months have been found in the French Alps.

The grim discovery was a breakthrough in the case of the missing two-year-old who vanished last year.

A walker alerted police after discovering bones, including a scull, in the countryside near Le Vernet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence – the same area the boy vanished from in July 2023.

Forensic testing found the bones were Émile's, however, police have not given a cause of death.

Prosecutor Jean-Luc Blachon told France24 forensic investigators were continuing to analyse the remains, while police carried out further searches.

Émile was staying with his grandparents during the summer holidays when he vanished without a trace.

The boy was last seen by two witnesses walking down a street near his grandparents' house on July 8, 2023.

At the time, the local mayor said his grandparents realised he was missing when they were getting ready to go out and went to put him in a car.

The day he disappeared he was wearing a yellow t-shirt, white shorts with a green pattern, and hiking shoes. 

Witnesses said they saw him wandering by himself as his grandfather chopped wood.

They live in a remote mountain village with only two dozen inhabitants just outside Le Vernet.

An extensive search was launched to find the boy, with over 800 people involved. There were reportedly dozens of police officers and soldiers, accompanied by helicopters, drones and sniffer dogs looking for the child. Police also searched the houses in the small village.

At the time he went missing, investigators ruled out a wild animal attack and were looking at the possibility he had been kidnapped, murdered or died in an accident.

In the wake of the incident, locals feared their little village was "cursed" as they recalled earlier tragedies in Le Vernet, including a gruesome murder and a devastating plane crash that left 149 people dead.