FRENCH INVESTIGATORS HAVE released two suspects held in connection with the mysterious disappearance of a nine-year-old girl who vanished during a wedding in the Alps nearly a week ago.
Maelys de Araujo was last seen in the early hours of Sunday at a community hall where the wedding was held in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, a village some 50 kilometres north of Grenoble.
According to a source close to the investigation, the two suspects, both 34-year-old men who knew each other and were friends of the groom, were released yesterday evening.
Both had been held over inconsistencies in their statements.
“The investigation is ongoing,” the source said, without further comment.
Investigators suspect that the little girl with dark brown hair and eyes, who was attending the wedding with her parents, was kidnapped.
Scores of police, search and rescue teams, divers and cavers have spent the week trawling through the heavily wooded area for signs of her.
More than 1,000 people have registered via Facebook to join in a massive search on Saturday in the area surrounding the town, which will be coordinated by local police.
Police have interviewed about 250 people since Sunday, including most of the 180 guests at the wedding, as well as several others who attended parties held the same night at a nearby bar and church hall.
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.
“We’re getting farther and farther away from the site of the disappearance,” a source close to the inquiry told AFP. “We still think that she was probably taken away in a vehicle.”
Police chief Yves Marzin said authorities are also examining photos and videos taken that day, as well as all calls to the area.
“It is like looking for a needle in a haystack, extremely tedious work but important,” he said.