Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
The father of an 11-year-old girl has reportedly admitted to police that he pushed her into a river with her hands bound and let her drown.
The young girl’s corpse was found in the Rhone river by divers, near the popular tourist hotspot of the Island of Piot, between the communes of Villeneuve-les-Avignon and Avignon in the Vaucluse department of south-eastern France.
The young girl has been named as Sarah and her father, who is currently in police custody, has been identified in French media outlets including (non-exhaustively) L’Union, La Provence, and France 3 Occitanie, as a 38-year-old Spanish citizen named as Sergio Gil Gonzales.
Investigators had been looking for the dad and his daughter since last Saturday (18th July) after they disappeared. Gonzales and the girl’s mother, who has not been named, broke up about a year and a half ago after he was convicted of domestic violence and he had returned to France in early July to try to patch things up with her, according to French newspaper La Depeche.
He also reportedly wanted to work on his relationship with Sarah.
He had been staying at a hotel in the small town of Rochefort-du-Gard. On Saturday, the girl’s mother reportedly let them go off together to spend the afternoon together.
A France 3 TV report stated that the suspect speaks French very poorly but that investigators have confirmed that he admitted to pushing Sarah into the Rhone river with her hands tied behind her back and watching her drown.
At first a missing person’s alert was issued on Saturday for both the father and his daughter. They were last seen together taking a bus in Avignon on Saturday morning. Sarah’s mother alerted police after receiving worrying text messages from the girl’s father, according to Le Dauphine.
He was recognised at a Leclerc supermarket in the town of Les Angles, also in the Vaucluse department. His mobile phone reportedly pinged for the last time somewhere between the Gard and the Vaucluse departments.
Arrested for voluntary homicide, he at first reportedly claimed it had been an accident. But public prosecutor Philippe Guemas is quoted in the French newspapers Midi Libre and Actu as saying that Ganzales “admitted to killing his daughter, explaining that he voluntarily pushed her into the river and let her sink”. The prosecutor added that the case has been reclassified as a “murder” investigation.
It is currently unclear why the suspect allegedly murdered his daughter.
An autopsy is set to take place today (Friday 24th July) at the Forensic Institute in the city of Nimes to learn more about the circumstances of Sarah’s death.
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