Chilling theory in Emile Soleil case after partial remains found ‘in village of the damned’

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A chilling new theory has emerged after the remains of missing two-year-old Emile Soleil were found mysteriously close to his Alpine village.

Walkers discovered the bones of the French tot on Saturday almost nine months after he vanished from his remote family home in a case that baffled police and shocked the nation.

Prosecutors are still working to determine the cause of the death by analysing the skull and bones that were found.

Cops said that little Emile’s remains were found outside of the hamlet near Le Vernet, however the local mayor claimed the bones were discovered inside its boundaries.

François Balique told Le Figaro that they were found “on a path between the Church and Chapel” in the village – just over a 100 yards from his home, The Sun reported.

But Mayor Balique said the hamlet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence had been “thoroughly searched by gendarmes”, suggesting that the bones could have been moved back to Vernet.

A source close to the investigation said that such a move would add a very disturbing element to the investigation.

It would be unlikely that animals would return human remains, the source claimed.

Instead they said the discovery suggests that “a person brought Emile’s remains back, and potentially very recently”.

There is also said to be confusion as to why only some of toddler’s remains were found.

A key investigating source confirmed that only part of the body was located including the skull.

They revealed: “The deceased’s teeth have all been recovered too, but some other elements of the body are gone.

“Drones and sniffer dogs are combing the entire area of countryside to try and find more.

“It may be that body parts were taken away by wild animals, but no theory is being ruled out.”

After going missing on July 8 last year from his isolated grandparents’ home, police launched a major search.

For days, police, soldiers, sniffer dogs, scores of volunteers, a helicopter and drones failed to find any sign.

They began a criminal investigation into possible abduction but didn’t rule out the possibilities of an accident or fall.

There had been no trace of Emile since, with investigators refusing to rule out any theory for the tragedy, including abduction and murder.

The grim discovery on Saturday was described as a major breakthrough for the criminal inquiry that stalled last year.

On Sunday, the entire village was blockaded by police with nobody allowed to leave or enter.

A statement released by public prosecutors in Aix-en-Provence on Sunday added that “genetic analysis identifies” the bones as belonging to Emile.

It added that “criminalistic analysis” was also underway, and that gendarmes were carrying out “additional research” in the area where they were found.

“This heartbreaking news was feared,” the child’s parents said in a statement.

The official search site is two miles as the crow flies from the house in Haut-Vernet, where Emile was last seen with his grandfather, Philippe Vedovini, 58.

Emile was officially in the care of Mr Vedovini on the day of his disappearance as his parents, Marie Soleil and Colomban Soleil took a break.

A witness saw Mr Vedovini, a physiotherapist-osteopath, cutting wood outside his house around the time Emile is thought to have wandered off.

The grandfather’s lawyer on Sunday declined to comment, “out of respect for the family’s grief”.

Lead prosecutor Rémy Avon said the possibilities that Emile had been murdered, kidnapped, or got involved in an accident were all being looked at.

He confirmed that Emile’s parents’ home, in the southern town of La Bouilladisse, near Marseille, was searched back in July, while the grandparents’ homes nearby, and in the Alps, were also raided.

Residents of Vernet often refer to it as the “village of the damned” due to a number of horror incidents in its past.

In March 2015, the hamlet was also cordoned off following a horrific air crash in which 150 people died, including two babies.

The Germanwings Airbus A320 was deliberately brought down by co-pilot Andres Lubitz, who had previously been treated for suicidal tendencies.

Many Vernet residents took part in high mountain searches for possible survivors at the time.

They also opened their homes to family and friends of those who perished in the disaster.

The inhabitants of Vernet were also shaken by the murder of a local café manager in the village 15 years ago.

Jeannette Grosos, who ran the Café du Moulin, was brutally killed by a customer in 2008.

Mayor François Balique said: “It was a real drama for the whole village – one which it has had a hard time recovering.”

One resident of Vernat said: “Everybody is saying it – Vernet feels like a village of the damned.”

On Sunday, a statement from Emile’s parents, Marie and Colomban Soleil, who are both devout Catholics, said they “now know on this Resurrection Sunday that Emile watches over them in the light and tenderness of God”.

It continued: “Marie and Colomban would like to thank all those who helped and supported them as well as the investigating judges and investigators for their work, their professionalism, their personal commitment and their humanity which were of great comfort to them, in recent months and in particular on this day…

“But the pain and sorrow remain. The time has come for mourning, contemplation and prayer.”

José Morale, mayor of La Bouilladisse, the town near Marseille where Emile’s family spent most of the year, said: “We will do our best to support them.

“For the parents, it’s very complicated. There is no relief, the sadness is infinite, we are all dejected.”

This article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission