PARIS — French police have detained a wedding guest for questioning in connection with the search for a nine-year-old girl who went missing at a weekend wedding party in the Alps.

The 34-year-old was detained Thursday, prosecutor Dietlind Baudoin said in a statement.

The prosecutor warned against jumping to conclusions. She said police wanted to clarify the whereabouts of a guest who left the celebrations around when the girl disappeared in Pont-de-Beauvoisin, 85 kilometers (53 miles) from Lyon in southeastern France.

The detained person is a man, according to another official close to the police investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

“This is horrendous. I hope we are going to find her,” said Joelle Martin, mayor of the nearby village of Saint-Martin de Vaulserre, who attended the wedding.

Martin described Pont-de-Beauvoisin as usually “extremely calm.”

“People are calm, quiet, we all know each other. I can’t explain this disappearance. But I trust our police,” she said.

Police search notices identified the girl as Maelys and said she was wearing a white sleeveless dress and white sandals when she was last seen at around 3 a.m. Sunday at the celebrations in Pont-de-Beauvoisin’s village hall.

Some 85 police officers were still involved Thursday in the search.

“The important thing is to find the most material leads possible,” said Capt. Cedric Sommen, a police commander involved in the operation. “It’s the investigators who will be coming little by little to take into account what we’ve found and judge their importance to the case.”

Police dogs found the girl’s trace but lost it in the village hall’s car park, suggesting she may have got into a car.

The prosecutor has opened a kidnapping investigation.

Police have combed wooded slopes and streams, questioned potential witnesses and examined photos and videos taken by wedding guests for any possible clues.


This version corrects the location of Lyon to southeastern France, not southwestern.

Author photo
JOHN LEICESTER
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