France: Missing teenage jogger who claimed to escape kidnappers admits to lying

A teenage jogger who claimed she escaped a kidnapping in north-west France after disappearing for more than a day has admitted she lied.

In a case that has gripped the country, the 17-year-old was found in a state of shock in a takeaway about 10km from where she had gone running in the Mayenne region, east of Rennes.

She told police she was held captive by kidnappers but managed to flee.

But now the teenager has admitted making the story up, a prosecutor said.

She admitted “having lied, not having been kidnapped and having gone on foot to Sablé-sur-Sarthe” – the area she reappeared in, said local prosecutor Céline Maigné.

The teenager, a regular runner who has not been named, left her home in the village of Saint-Brice for the local Bellebranche forest at around 16:00 on Monday.

Her father went looking for her after she failed to return home, and called the police three hours later. While searching his daughter’s running route, the father found her phone and GPS watch, with traces of blood.

Investigators searching for the girl examined data from her Strava running app, which showed her jog had abruptly ended in a rural area after five and a half minutes in which she had covered over a kilometre.

A search involving some 200 police officers, rescue dogs, divers and a helicopter was launched. But it was not until around 20:00 the following day that she next appeared at the takeaway in Sablé-sur-Sarthe.

When she reappeared she had scratches on her body and was taken to hospital.

But the teenager eventually admitted to investigators that her injuries were “of accidental origin” and she “cut her T-shirt with a pair of scissors”, the prosecutor said in a statement.

The teenager “will be subject to an investigation for reporting an imaginary crime”, the prosecutor added.

“The inquiry will need to take her personality into consideration in order to clear up the reasons for her behaviour which at this time remains unexplained.”