“That brings us back to the theory of the accident”, estimates the former director of the judicial center of the gendarmerie

Important recent discoveries but still a mystery. After nine months of stalling, the investigation into the affair of little Emile suddenly accelerated this Saturday, March 30, with the discovery of his skull by a hiker, about twenty minutes’ walk from Haut-Vernet, a village of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, place of his disappearance on July 8.

A first discovery followed this Monday by that of his clothes, near a stream, about a hundred meters from the skull. However, these advances do not seem to have proven, for the moment, to be decisive in clarifying the death of the little boy. To try to see things more clearly, and to understand what forms this investigation should now take, 20 minutes interviewed François Daoust, former director of the judicial unit of the gendarmerie which notably includes the IRCGN (Criminal Research Institute of the National Gendarmerie), widely involved in this affair.

Given the recent discoveries, what are the possible outcomes for the investigation?

On the table, three hypotheses are open: 1/ The child is lost. 2/ There was an accident caused by a third party who left the body. 3/ It’s murder.

So, now the goal is to try to find as many clues as possible through the clothes and bones. We would have to find other bones and try to go up the stream as high as possible. Because we can clearly see that due to the configuration of the place, the bones were certainly disturbed by the rains, and therefore we have to go upstream upstream which could be point zero. That of the child’s fall, or of the place where he stopped, exhausted, before passing away. Or, to stick with the hypothesis of the lost child, the place where he fell into the stream and quickly drowned.

Afterwards, you will have to do the same thing downstream. Because the floods were able to wash away the pieces and the bones were able to continue their journey.

So, even if the prosecutor says he does not favor any hypothesis, the accident theory is getting thicker in your opinion?

These first elements bring us more towards the thesis of an accident than that of a crime. Now we will have to see what the analyzes of the clothes show, if they contain traces of blood, for example. Which means he would have been injured. How ? By who ? Other questions would be asked.

Is this a new investigation starting now?

Yes, this is a new investigation. From the moment we know he’s dead, and that he’s been there for a while, we have to start all over again assuming it was from day one.

After having spent, as one imagines, nine months in nature, what can we expect to find on the clothes?

If we had clean cuts like knives or box cutter, we would come back to the criminal trail. If we had tears, or no direct tears, but the little boy’s damaged clothing and traces of blood, that would mean that, either in a fall or in an impact, with a vehicle for example, he was injured. . This is why the prosecutor, with all the caution necessary in this case, keeps the three possibilities in mind.

Could these clothes still contain identifiable foreign DNA?

This I do not know. Sometimes there can be surprises. On clothing washed in the machine several times, if there is a droplet of blood that has soaked into it, DNA can come out, so why not. But we are in a low index probability.

What technical elements could give us certainty?

It would be to find enough clues that show, for example, that the boy fell into the stream. But if we find nothing more, without injury, without anything else, this will continue to support the accident theory. Even if that won’t stop X or Y from saying: “Oh no, there might be something behind it.” A bit like we have with people in the village who say: “No, no, it’s not possible, it can only be the intervention of a third party. » We need to take a step back. It’s not because we searched as best we could that we didn’t miss the child who fell into a stream.

How much longer can this investigation last?

That’s the whole difficulty. How long will it take to survey the stream and surrounding areas? If they find elements, how, in the laboratory, will the genetic part, the forensic and anthropometric part be able to work? I think there will be at least a few more weeks.

Will there ever be certainty?

It will depend on what we find.

As it stands, it’s not possible?

No, that’s not possible. There are guidelines, but they are not sufficient.

And the hypothesis of a perfect crime?

A crime is only perfect when one does not know that it is a crime. An unsolved crime is something else. There, we would have to see what elements the investigators have.

After almost a year of investigation, if there had been strong suspicions about one or more individuals, would they have already emerged?

In any case, there would already have been enough information to guide the investigators. There, basically, we start again from zero. But that does not eliminate all the work that was done on the environment, the suspicions and the incriminating or exculpatory elements that they were able to find. So the investigation is already fueled by what they did.

It’s a story that fascinates, with all the hindsight of your career, how do you explain that this one is particularly memorable?

Because he’s a little boy. Because he’s so cute. That we all had children, brothers or cousins. Because we can all identify with our parents, directly or indirectly. And after that, behind it, there are all the questions there can be about a family, which is not an average family, or which is not like the others and which leaves an additional halo of mystery. We are really in basic sensational psychology, nothing else.

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