France shocked by rape, murder of 9-year-old girl
CALAIS - Agence France-Presse
A photo taken on April 16, 2015 in the northern city of Calais shows the building where Chloe, a nine-year-old girl who was snatched on April 15 in front of her mother from the playground, lived. AFP PhotoA Polish man has confessed to raping and killing a nine-year-old girl after brazenly snatching her from a French playground in front of her mother, prosecutors said April 16.
The country was left reeling from the crime in the northern city of Calais, where flags flew at half mast, as grisly details emerged about how Chloe was kidnapped, raped and strangled in an hour and a half.
A Polish man whose criminal past had seen him banned from French territory, confessed to the crime after being arrested on Wednesday night near the woods where the girl's naked, lifeless body was found.
Chloe was playing with a friend on Wednesday afternoon when a man "appeared and grabbed her, forcing her to get into a red car," prosecutors said in a statement.
Her mother, who was present with her two other children, burst into panicked screams as the man, described by witnesses as bald and wearing sunglasses, shoved Chloe into his car.
Police were alerted to the kidnapping at 3:30 pm and search teams were despatched, one of which made the grisly discovery of the murdered child at 5pm.
Forensic investigators reported evidence of "strangulation and sexual violence", prosecutor Jean-Pierre Valensi said at a press conference on Thursday.
Nearby, police found the red vehicle with Polish number plates, and the driver -- heavily under the influence of alcohol -- was arrested not far from the scene shortly thereafter.
The man was banned from French territory after being released from prison where he had served time for robbery, and was handed over to Polish authorities in March 2014 after a Europe-wide arrest warrant was issued in his name, said Valensi.
He added that the man had arrived back in France on Wednesday morning and was planning to head to England where his sister lived.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls called for light to be shed on the suspect's history, saying the family and community were "deeply shocked" by the murder.
"It is up to the legal system now to carry out the investigation and what we owe to the family is the whole truth," he said.
The French city of Calais was plunged into mourning after the killing of the girl described as "cheerful and full of life".
Residents planned a solemn march in memory of Chloe later Thursday.
"It's horrific," a shocked mother of two told AFP outside Chloe's school on Thursday morning, where a counselling unit has been set up.
"My son knew her, he didn't sleep last night, he knows he will never see her again. I can't even imagine what the parents are going through," she said.