Body of missing girl believed found

The place where the body of the girl was found Keystone

Police in the eastern city of St Gallen say a body discovered is almost certain to be that of Ylenia, the five-year-old girl who went missing on July 31.

This content was published on September 15, 2007 - 17:59

At a news conference on Saturday, a police spokesman said they were able to make the identification because of the general appearance of the body and jewellery found on it.

The corpse was uncovered by a private individual in a wood between the villages of Oberbüren and Niederwil.

The police said the buried body had been apparently dug up by wild animals.

The results of the autopsy are expected to be known by next Tuesday.

Ylenia is believed to have been abducted. On the day she disappeared from a swimming pool in Appenzell, the suspected kidnapper shot at and wounded another man in the chest before turning the gun on himself.

The child's body was found in the same wood where the shooting incident occurred. Passersby stumbled upon the corpse of the 67-year-old Swiss in a nearby forest, where the backpack and bike helmet the girl was carrying when she disappeared were also uncovered.

Police believe the girl was abducted in a white van with Spanish licence plates. An analysis of DNA taken from the vehicle indicated that it had been used to transport Ylenia.

The suspected kidnapper was a resident of eastern Switzerland before resettling with his wife in Spain in 1990.

Immediately following Ylenia's disappearance, Swiss police said investigations were also being carried out in Spain and Portugal, raising speculation of a possible link between her case and that of missing British girl Madeleine McCann.

McCann was last seen in the Algarve holiday region in Portugal at the beginning of May.

Missing children

Missing children and child murders are rare in Switzerland and the case of Ylenia has made the front page of national newspapers and magazines.

Editors became aware of the story's human-interest value following the media saturation in Britain over the McCann case.

And earlier this week, 100 Swiss personalities signed an open letter to the government demanding a faster system to track down abducted children.

It called for an "abduction alert" to be issued as soon as a child is reported missing. The signatories include champion skater Stéphane Lambiel, former ski champion Pirmin Zurbriggen and Alinghi-billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli.

swissinfo with agencies

Ylenia case

Ylenia from Appenzell in northeastern Switzerland was last seen at a swimming pool on July 31, according to police, who have declined to release her surname in keeping with Swiss privacy laws.

That evening police found her backpack, cycling helmet and scooter beside a path in woods about 30 kilometres from the swimming pool.

On August 1, in the same forest, police found the body of a man who they said had shot himself in the head with a pistol.

A day earlier he had shot and injured a 46-year-old man allegedly taking a nap. The younger man fled and was taken to hospital. He has since been discharged.

Police said the dead man was a Swiss native who had lived in Spain with his wife since 1990. His van, also found in the forest, had Spanish number plates and had been seen near a swimming pool in Ylenia's hometown on Tuesday morning.

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