“She’s wearing white jeans,” the girl’s mother posted on Facebook, “a white hoodie and her grey backpack.” “Help us to find her,” she pleaded.
Beneath Delphine Daviet’s message, two pictures completed the post. In one, a young girl, 12-year-old Lola, smiles at the camera, in the other, a pixelated snapshot from security camera footage shows a woman in a doorway.
In a case that has gripped France, Lola’s body was found mutilated and stuffed into a plastic box, just hours after her mother posted this message on October 14. Caught on camera, her mother said, is the woman with Lola that last time she was seen alive, in the building where the family lives.
The two were spotted on security camera at 3:15 p.m. on Friday, just minutes after Lola had left school, entering the building where she lived, according to statement from the Paris police prosecutor.
Around 5 p.m., the woman left the building, alone, carrying heavy luggage. Three hours later, Lola’s father sounded the alarm, alerting officers to Lola’s disappearance, the statement added.
A little after 11 p.m., Lola’s body was found in a wheeled plastic box, abandoned in the communal areas outside the family’s building, where Lola’s father works as concierge, according to the statement.
On Monday, French authorities opened an official judicial investigation into the case into the charges of “murder of a minor under the age of 15, accompanied by rape of a minor, torture or acts of savagery; rape of a minor with torture or acts of savagery; and concealment of a corpse,” the statement said.
An autopsy of Lola revealed that she died of cardiorespiratory failure with signs of asphyxiation and cervical compression, according to the statement. She had multiple other injuries, “notably to her face, back and with large cuts to her neck, which did not play a role her death according to the coroner’s conclusions of her cause of death,” the police statement said. There was no sign of injuries from sexual trauma, the police prosecutor said, and a zero and one were written in red under each of the young victim’s feet.
Police detained the main suspect in the case, a 24-year-old woman who has not been named, a little before 8 a.m. Saturday, the day after Lola was killed, in the northwest suburbs of Paris, according to Paris police prosecutor.
CNN has reached out to the suspect’s lawyer.
Under interrogation, the woman’s account “veered between acknowledgment and contestation of the facts,” according to the police prosecutor’s statement, but she revealed that she had led Lola to the apartment of her sister, who lived in the same block of flats. She is currently under official investigation relating to Lola’s murder, the statement said.
There, according to the statement, she said she forced the girl to take a shower before “committing sexual assaults and other violence on her that resulted in her death,” before she hid the child’s body in the plastic box.
Speaking to CNN affiliate BFMTV, Hafida, a schoolfriend of Lola’s said: “It doesn’t want to go into my head. I’m telling myself, ‘No, I’m going to see her later at recess, but no.’”
Bamba, the mother of a friend of Lola’s who used to sleep over at their house, also expressed her shock at what had happened. “I can’t believe it,” she told BFMTV, “I’m telling myself that it’s not possible, that could happen to anyone, even to me.”
On Tuesday afternoon, flowers were piling up outside the building where Lola lived, as locals paid homage to a life brutally cut short. Local authorities in the 19th arrondissement of Paris where the killing occurred have also opened a support center for local people, especially schoolchildren, along with bolstered police patrols around schools, the 19th arrondissement mayor said in a statement.
Police have also detained a 43-year-old man, an acquaintance of the main suspect, who confessed to having transported the 24-year-old woman with her suitcases and the plastic box to his home outside Paris and then arranging for her to return to the capital with the box and cases in a taxi, according to the prosecutor’s statement.
Investigations continue, according to the police prosecutor statement, to determine the exact events surrounding the killing.
Marguerite Lacroix contributed to this report.