Disappearance of Émile: an ongoing criminal investigation, where are the investigations?

The investigation into Emile's disappearance is now a legal matter.

Disappearance of Émile: an ongoing criminal investigation, where are the investigations?

The investigation into Emile's disappearance is now a legal matter. No track seems for the moment favored by the investigators and the parents of the little boy who disappeared in Haut-Vernet have instituted civil proceedings.

[Updated August 21, 2023 at 2:44 p.m.] Two-year-old Émile has been missing since Saturday, July 8, 2023. Since then, a month of searching and six weeks of investigation have failed to find the child. Judicial information was opened on July 18 for "research into the causes of the disappearance", then extended from July 28 on the decision of the public prosecutor of Aix-en-Provence to the facts of "kidnapping, arrest, detention, and arbitrary confinement of a minor under the age of fifteen", according to information from Le Parisien.

The disappearance of little Emile is therefore now considered a criminal matter. A change in tone which is not the consequence of a "particular advance in the investigation which would direct us [...] towards a criminal hypothesis" specified the prosecutor Jean-Luc Blanchon with the Ile-de-France newspaper on August 21. It would rather be to allow the investigators of the research section of Marseille to carry out more acts of investigation, in particular police custody and referrals. However, no police custody measures have been taken since.

For its part, Émile's family, silent since the disappearance, has filed a civil action and now has access to the file on the disappearance of their child, according to information from the Aix-en-Provence prosecutor's office, relayed by BFM FROM HERE. They are informed of developments and have access to the file through their lawyer. In the event of a possible trial, it is possible to be assisted or represented by this same lawyer for the civil party.

The little boy from La Bouilladisse (Bouches-du-Rhône) disappeared on Saturday July 8, 2023 near the home of his grandparents, located in the hamlet of Haut-Vernet (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence). Émile escaped the vigilance of his family around 5:30 p.m. and was last seen by two witnesses at the same time walking down a slope leading to his grandparents' residence. Since then, no sign of life or trace of the little boy has been found.

Emile's grandparents were not alone when the child disappeared. "Several other family members [were] also present" at the home, according to the details of Le Figaro. In total, a dozen people were there, including uncles, aunts and cousins ​​of the missing child. As for the two witnesses who saw the child, they explained that they were not worried since, according to them, it is common to see children playing in the streets in this hamlet of Vernet.

The situation is very delicate for this young child, according to the public prosecutor of Digne-les-Bains, Rémy Avon: "Medically, we are told that beyond a period of 48 hours, given the young age of the child, given his constitution and considering that a human who would be deprived of food and water by the current high temperatures, the vital prognosis is very very committed. The search began a few hours after Émile's disappearance and continued for five days. But, despite the means deployed and the combing of 97 hectares in and around the hamlet of Haut Vernet, "no element" was found. In fact, no clue yet allows one hypothesis to be favored over another, but no track has been ruled out either and the prosecution does not “refrain from any investigation”.

After five days of excavations, the research ended on Thursday, July 13 and the investigation entered a second phase: that of the analysis of the data collected by the investigators during the hearings, sweeps, thanks to testimonies or data telephone. 25 gendarmes are grouped together to form a national investigation unit on this disappearance. This allows this device to rely on all the regional and national means of the gendarmerie. Investigators rely on telephone data, all calls and messages made in the town of Vernet during the disappearance of Émile, to find clues. A colossal and time-consuming job, since 1,600 telephones were limited in the sector at the time of Émile's disappearance, as indicated by Rémy Avon, public prosecutor of Digne-les-Bains, in a press release published on July 18 and relayed by Le Figaro. "1,400 telephone reports were processed following the call for witnesses launched on July 9," he added.

Since July 18 and the opening of a judicial investigation by the prosecution, investigators have conducted new hearings among the inhabitants of Haut Vernet, according to information from BFMTV. They heard in particular from a couple, whose husband is one of the last inhabitants to have seen the young boy play on the day of his disappearance. A hearing of several hours, conducted on July 20, which was to allow the investigators to understand why the couple was absent during the disappearance of Émile. BFMTV also reports that the vehicles of residents of Haut Vernet have been analyzed by forensic technicians. Research conducted to find possible clues that would link one of them to Emile. But for the moment, no track is privileged to explain the disappearance of this young boy. A drone was mobilized to map the area, including a wooded and staked area where the little boy could have gotten lost. The analysis carried out by the drone was completed on Friday, July 28 around noon. This aerial technology could play a crucial role in ongoing investigations, reports RTL.

A report of Émile was issued on July 9 and is still released by the gendarmerie with a photo of the little boy. The 2-year-old blonde with brown eyes is 90cm tall and was wearing a yellow top, white shorts and hiking boots at the time of his disappearance.

The gendarmerie invites all people who have been able to see the boy in the Vernet sector or who have crossed the area to go to Barcelonnette or Ubaye or "go down to Nice, Grasse, Draguignan or Aix-en-Provence" to inform investigators at

All tracks are still considered to explain the disappearance of Émile. But surprisingly no trace of the child has been found: despite being described as a "good walker", the two-year-old boy was unable to venture on foot beyond the area searched by investigators. Especially since the terrain is very "steep" in the hamlet, which is bordered by steep slopes on one side and a cliff on the other. The Saint Hubert dogs of the canine team did not smell anything when they could have found a trace of the child "whether he has been dead or alive for less than four days" according to an expert at the microphone of BFMTV. And the specialist adds: "What can make things complicated is that [Émile] was moved by a moving means. […] There would be a bridge in the track and it's difficult to hang up ".

The intervention of a third party in the disappearance of Émile therefore seems possible. The child could have been abducted or injured and his body displaced. The trail of the accident was once considered when traces of blood were discovered on a car searched by investigators. After analysis, the blood turned out to be of animal origin.

Emile is part of a large family. His mother, named Marie, is described as one of the eldest of ten siblings. Several members of this family were gathered at the second home of the little boy's grandparents on the day of the disappearance. If the little boy and his parents live in La Bouilladisse, in the Bouches-du-Rhône, Émile used to spend weekends and holidays in Haut Vernet. Emile's family is also known to the inhabitants of the hamlet. They are described as "good people" and "very religious".

Emile's grandfather initially wanted to be a priest before finally falling in love and embracing a career as an osteopath, according to information from Var-Matin. As for the grandmother, she was a teacher. Their ten children were homeschooled. Few details have been given about Emile's parents, but the Var daily believes that the child's father was on the "Zou!" friends of Éric Zemmour in 2021, during the regional elections.

Emile's parents have not spoken since the disappearance of the little boy and, according to family friends or inhabitants of Haut-Vernet, those close to Emile have withdrawn into themselves and turned to the religion to overcome this ordeal. The family of the child has also organized a mass in a very small committee at the chapel of the hamlet on Wednesday July 12. One of the family friends who attended the ceremony testified to BFM D'ICI, describing a "bruised" family. "Today, we must leave this family in their family intimacy and that they can find a bit of serenity for the rest of the events," added the man, who has not heard from the family. Emile from Mass.

Emile's father is a member of Chrétienté Solidarité, a traditionalist Catholic movement, according to BFMTV information, and an engineer by profession. His grandfather is the treasurer of this movement which declares to fight for the defense of the "threatened values ​​of Christian civilization and French identity" and "against Islamist totalitarianism, anti-human inversions, totalitarian globalism and all extreme lefts". Its historical founder and figure of the French far right, Bernard Antony, defended the family of the missing little boy with BFMTV, Saturday July 22, in the face of rumors that run about sectarian excesses within it. "They're Christians, period," he said, adding, "They're not part of a cult." "Emile's parents are charming people. They decided to face this ordeal by clinging to their faith", for his part indicated the president of Chrétienté Solidarité, Yann Baly, reports the news channel.