Search Underway After French Girl, 9, Vanishes at Wedding

Police have now launched a kidnapping investigation
By Gina Carey,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2017 4:08 AM CDT
Search Underway After French Girl, 9, Vanishes at Wedding
Composite photos circulating of missing girl Maelys De Araujo.   (Twitter: BFMTV)

Police have opened a kidnapping investigation as searches continue for a 9-year-old girl who vanished from a family wedding in the French Alps Sunday. The Local reports that authorities have scoured the area, using helicopters, police dogs, divers, and cavers around France’s southeastern Isère region to track down any trace of Maelys De Araujo. After canines lost the girl’s scent in the venue’s parking lot, police believe kidnapping is a possibility, though they are not ruling out other explanations, “accidental or criminal,” for her disappearance. "Given the time that has elapsed since the disappearance of the young Maelys and given the resources that have sadly been deployed in vain to find her, the criminal possibility can no longer be ruled out," local prosecutor Dietlind Baudoin said during a news conference.

Maelys, who attended the wedding with her parents, older sister, and other relatives, was last seen in what the BBC describes as "a children’s room" around 3am local time Sunday morning. "The DJ for the evening announced on the microphone that a child had disappeared,” a wedding guest told Le Parisien. “Suddenly, everyone started searching, in the main hall and outside.” He added, “We initially thought she must be asleep in a corner after a game of hide-and-seek.” Police were contacted an hour later when the search yielded no results, the Guardian reports. All of the 180 wedding guests were interviewed by police, who are now reviewing photos and videos from the celebration and conducting 70 additional interviews of people who attended outside social events at a local bar and community hall around the same time. (Read more missing child stories.)

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