The remains of a 2-year-old boy who went missing eight months ago were found, according to French authorities.

Police say a hiker found Emilie Soleil’s body near his grandfather’s house in an Alpine village. Emilie was last seen on July 8, 2023, with his 58-year-old grandfather, who was looking after him for his parents.

The day he disappeared, he wore a yellow top, white shorts with a green pattern, and hiking shoes.

Two witnesses told police that they saw him wandering around by himself while his grandfather chopped wood in his garden. After they couldn’t find him, his grandparents quickly informed authorities around 5.15 pm. sparking a massive search.

On Sunday, the whole of Vernet was blockaded by police, with nobody allowed in or out.

The macabre discovery on Saturday was today described as a key breakthrough in a criminal enquiry that has baffled detectives since they launched a frantic search in the idyllic village of Le Haut Vernet in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence back on July 8.

Over 800 people were involved in the search. However, he was never found despite helicopters, drones and dogs being used.

Émile’s family had called on people to pray to Benoîte Rencurel – a French shepherd said to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary from 1664 to 1718.

Residents of Vernet meanwhile referred to the place as a cursed ‘village of the damned’ because of its links with disaster.

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

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 mur*der of a local café manager in the village 15 years ago.

Jeannette Grosos, who ran the Café du Moulin, was brutally ki*lled 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.’

The cause of his death is still unknown.

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