Man charged over missing French nine-year old girl after ‘DNA found in car’

A 34-year old man has been charged and remanded in custody over the disappearance of a nine-year-old girl during a wedding in the Alps, say prosecutors.

Maelys de Araujo was last seen in the early hours of Sunday August 27 at a community hall where the wedding was held in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, a village some 30 miles north of Grenoble.

The suspect has told investigators that she “got into his car”, his lawyer told  AFP, but denies abducting her. 

The vehicle had previously caught the attention of investigators, as the owner had washed it after the wedding, he said in order to sell it.

Maelys de Araujo went missing in the early hours of Sunday morning Credit: Gendarmerie Nationale

Sniffer dogs lost the scent from Maelys’s cuddly toy in a car park outside the venue, raising fears she was kidnapped and whisked away by car.

She has not been found despite intense searches in the heavily wooded area where the wedding took place.

Grenoble’s prosecutor said that the suspect has been charged with “kidnapping, illegal confinement or arbitrary detention of a minor of less than 15 years” following a police probe.

He was at the wedding during which the little girl – who was attending the event with her parents – went missing, the statement said.

French gendarmes search through a forest in Pont-de-Beauvoisin on August 30 Credit: PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP

The charged man is one of two suspects who were detained on Thursday over inconsistencies in their statements, but then released on Friday evening.

Fresh evidence uncovered during the police probe had led to the suspect, who had been released, being recalled and questioned again, said the prosecutor.

“Brought before investigating judges at the end of the afternoon, he contested the facts. Confronted with testimony, findings and scientific evidence, he persisted in his denials and explanations,” the statement said.

“This did not convince the investigative judges, who decided to hold him,” it added.

“After the debate… between the prosecutor and the defence,” the man was placed “in provisional detention,” the statement added.

A group of citizens walks before taking part in a research operation, seven days after Maelys, 9, was reported missing on September 2 Credit: PHILIPPE DESMAZES/AFP

Police technical and forensic teams found DNA evidence and were trying to determine whether the missing girl had been in the suspect’s car, said a source close to the investigation.

The DNA was found on the dashboard of the suspect’s Audi,…

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