Paris investigators on Monday questioned a woman and a man suspected of raping and murdering a 12-year-old girl whose body was found in a suitcase on Friday.
Possible charges include the rape and murder of a minor under the age of 15, as well as torture, ill-treatment and concealing a body, a French judicial source told AFP, adding that prosecutors had ordered two people into temporary custody.
A 24-year-old woman with mental disorders was identified as the prime suspect.
She was arrested in Bois-Colombes, in the north-west suburbs of Paris, on Saturday after being spotted in CCTV images from the apartment block of the young victim, identified only by her first name, Lola.
An eyewitness who also saw her at the scene said she offered him money to help her move a large suitcase, multiple media outlets reported.
Investigators suspect that a 43-year-old man who was also arrested was protecting the young woman and driving her around in the vehicle in which she was discovered.
Lola’s parents called the police after their daughter failed to return from middle school on Friday afternoon, also unsettled by the presence of the unidentified young woman at the apartment building in Paris’s 19th arrondissement.
But a homeless man was the first to spot the body, which sources familiar with the investigation said was hidden under cloths in a plastic box in the building’s courtyard.
The body had visible large wounds on its neck and an autopsy conducted on Saturday found Lola died of asphyxiation, a source said.
So far, six people have been taken into custody in connection with the case, four have since been released.
Local residents laid flowers at the gate of the family home over the weekend, an AFP reporter saw.
Meanwhile, school authorities have announced that they will provide psychological support to staff and students at Lola’s middle school and others in the area.
A mother told AFP that her daughter, another student who knew Lola by sight, “is not well today, she doesn’t want to go to school.”
“Today is mourning and the investigation, which seems to be progressing quickly,” said the mayor of the 19th district, Francois Dagnaud, during a visit to the Georges Brassens school.
“Importantly, the prime suspect has been arrested for now, there is no psychopath roaming the streets of this neighborhood,” he added, after local parents reported concerns about their children’s safety.
“Obviously the fact that a 12-year-old child can die in such circumstances is overwhelming for everyone,” he added, saying the advice would also be offered to local residents.