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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

La petite martyre de l‘A10: French police arrest parents of girl murdered in 1987

The unknown victim, a young girl, was found at the side of a French motorway

The case of an unidentified girl found dead and mutilated in a ditch of the A10 motorway near Blois in August 1987 was relaunched thirty years later after a DNA sample from one of the brothers in another case and which allowed to identify the parents. Guillaume Souvant/ AFP
The case of an unidentified girl found dead and mutilated in a ditch of the A10 motorway near Blois in August 1987 was relaunched thirty years later after a DNA sample from one of the brothers in another case and which allowed to identify the parents. Guillaume Souvant/ AFP

A 31-year-old murder case involving a young girl whose mutilated body was left at the side of a French motorway appears close to being solved after police arrested her parents.

The victim, believed to be no more than five-years-old, was found in a ditch beside the A10 near the town of Blois, central France, in August 1987.

After discovering no child of her description had been reported missing, confused police visited local kindergartens to see if anyone knew who she was.

No one was able to identify her. The girl subsequently became known as la petite martyre de l’A10 (little martyr of the A10) by French authorities.It took until 2016 for police to make a breakthrough following the arrest of a man in an assault probe. After routine DNA testing, they found he was the girl’s brother.

After an investigation of several months, prosecutors confirmed that her parents had been found and arrested on Tuesday in the city of Orleans on suspicion of murder, child abuse and preventing the lawful burial of a body.

The pair, who have not yet been identified but are believed to be in their 60s, are set to appear in front of a judge on Thursday.

According to records, the couple, of Moroccan descent, had stopped claiming welfare for one of their children.

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The decades-old case horrified authorities, who launched a France’s biggest ever investigation at the time to try and identify the girl. Her photograph was published in public places and sent to 30 different countries.

The child’s remains were found with burns, bites and broken bones indicating months of abuse before her death.

She was buried in a white grave bearing the inscription: “In memory of the little unknown of the A10.”

In 2012 police reopened the case appealing for witnesses and releasing a picture of the victim’s face.

With the caption “who is she?”, police described the girl as having “curly black hair” and being of “Mediterranean (maybe North African)” descent.

At the time of her discovery, police found fingerprints on a blanket the girl’s corpse was left in at the side of the road but failed to match the DNA to anyone on their files.

The brother’s arrest revealed for the first time a fingerprint match with the unknown girl, who is believed to have five other siblings