For the first time since the disappearance of Émile, the parents of the young boy spoke publicly in the Christian Family magazine in an article published on Tuesday August 29.
Nearly two months after the disappearance of little Émile in a hamlet in the commune of Vernet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, the parents of the 2-year-old boy spoke publicly for the first time. In an article published this Tuesday, August 29 in the Christian Family magazine, they thank the efforts and support of all those who supported them. "Faced with the tragedy, we remained united with our families and friends," says Émile's mother, Marie. Before commending the work of the investigators and firefighters who "showed great professionalism and a lot of empathy", indicates the father, Colomban. The two parents explain to Christian family to hold on thanks to their faith, both being of confession "Catholics of the Roman Church", and admit to not being "afraid to ask God for a miracle".
The parents of the little boy also wanted to contradict certain information broadcast in certain media. “Certain rather vicious media allowed themselves to tell anything about us under the pretext that we were Catholics…”, laments Colomban. During the long interview, they also mention rumors about their affiliation to far-right associations and parties. "We are activists at the Charlier Center and the Agrif (General Alliance against Racism and for the Respect of French and Christian Identity) and we are proud of it, says Emile's mother. We have absolutely nothing to hide ". The Charlier Center is a traditionalist and far-right Catholic organization. It was created in 1982 by Bernard Antony, a close friend of Émile's family and a former member of the Front National (from 1984 to 2008). The Agrif was also founded by Bernard Anthony and aims to defend the victims of "anti-French and anti-Christian racism".
This criticism of the media is mentioned several times during the interview. Marie, the mother, believes that the media wanted to "pass them off as visionaries who rely only on prayer while neglecting action". The family said they had been the target of "small untruths, the accumulation over time is revolting". Colomban also lamented the suspicions against him in the disappearance of his son: "Some media went so far as to write that the investigators were now interested in us on the grounds that my profile intrigued them more and more. It took a lot of inhumanity to some to make fun of the disappearance of Émile, and for others to rejoice in it on the so-called social networks because of our real or supposed opinions.
The couple also wanted to defend the allegations against their family. "Certain malicious testimonies in the press show crass ignorance, about us and also about my parents, at the forefront of this story, my father in particular. My parents are trying to go through this ordeal with us in faith", detailed Mary. She assured that "disinformation and hatred exist: this was confirmed in a staggering way after the disappearance of Émile".
Emile's parents wanted to thank all those mobilized to find the child: "We want to say thank you to all the anonymous people who came to the site for the beatings. The solidarity was very strong. We received a lot of letters , sometimes flowers... We also received a lot of text messages. The mobilization was really extraordinary."
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 also mobilized to map the region, including a wooded and staked area where the little boy could have gotten lost. This aerial technology could play a crucial role in the ongoing investigations, RTL reported then. But the analysis carried out by the drone ended on Friday, July 28 around noon, without result.
The judicial investigation was extended from July 28 to the facts of "arbitrary kidnapping, arrest, detention, and sequestration of a minor under the age of fifteen", by decision of the public prosecutor of Aix-en-Provence. Emile's family has filed a civil action and now has access to the file on the child's disappearance, according to information from the Aix-en-Provence prosecutor's office, relayed by BFM DICI. 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.
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 04.92.36.73.00.
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.