DNA breakthrough leads to arrests in France over 1987 murder of four-year-old girl

The name of the "the little martyr of the A10" was not known during the initial investigation

DNA breakthrough leads to arrests in France over 1987 murder of four-year-old girl

The grave of an unidentified girl found dead in a ditch along the A10 freeway close to the city of Blois in August 1987 is pictured in Suevres, France. Picture by: AP/Press Association Images

French police investigating the death of a four-year-old girl 30 years ago say they have identified the victim and arrested her parents.

The little girl's body was found in August 1987 by the A10 motorway in central France and showed signs of abuse, including burns from an iron and human bite marks.

Police at the time said they were dealing with a suspected case of cannibalism in which "flesh had been removed".

Experts say the bite marks on her body, which was found dressed in pyjamas and a dressing gown, were from a woman.

The murder triggered what was France's biggest ever investigation at the time and involved circulating the girl's photograph in public places and sending alerts to more than 30 countries.

The case was declared unsolved in 1997 and remained a cold case until the 2016 arrest of her brother for assault.

Police fed his DNA into a database and found a match to the clothes she was dressed in when found.

Her parents, who are of Moroccan origin, were then traced to the city of Orleans and have been arrested.

Investigation

Police discovered records that showed the girl had been named Inass, had a passport and was registered with the Family Allowances Fund and a nursery.

Her father, Ahmed Touloub (66) was detained after appearing before judges and their mother Halima (64) is still being questioned.

Police say she admits to being violent to Inass but denies involvement in her death and says she was the victim of abuse by her husband.

He claims it was his wife who was violent towards him and their children.

Both have denied murder.

Prosecutor Frédéric Chevallier said at a news conference following the arrests that the father claimed he found his daughter dead after she fell down the stairs and he abandoned her body on the motorway while on his way to Morocco with his other children in the car.

The girl, whose name was not known at the time, was dubbed "the little martyr of the A10".

Posters appealing for information noted that she was three foot tall with curly brown hair and brown eyes.

Records showed the couple had stopped claiming family welfare payouts for one of their seven children and the mother had told authorities the child was in Morocco.

The parents, who separated in 2010, were detained on Tuesday in Orleans on suspicion of murder, child abuse and preventing the lawful burial of a body.

Three decades on, people regularly replace the flowers on her grave, where the unnamed tombstone reads: "Here rests an angel."