French police have detained a man in connection with the rape of a nine-year-old girl abducted on the weekend while out to buy bread in her village, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
The 31-year-old is also suspected of having assaulted a woman out jogging beforehand and raping a 74-year-old on Friday, they added.
The girl was found shortly after the attack on Sunday and taken to hospital as police launched a massive manhunt for her assailant over a large swathe of western France.
She was picked up by a driver in a residential area of Villiers, which had fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, as she walked from the baker’s, according to Michel Garandeaux, a prosecutor in the nearby city of Poitiers.
The driver was suspected of having put the girl in his car boot before taking her to a field nearby.
Garandeaux told reporters that the man allegedly assaulted a woman out jogging just an hour or so before, trying to force her into his car. But she resisted and escaped.
She managed to get the car’s licence plate number while the girl gave precise details of her assailant, he added.
On Monday, the 31-year-old suspect was detained in the car in Saumur, 80 kilometres from Villiers, along with another man who was also in the vehicle.
Garandeaux said that the other man did not appear to be linked to the assaults.
It also emerged that the suspect is wanted over another rape case on Friday, in which the victim was a 74-year-old woman near Saumur, said Eric Bouillard, another prosecutor.
He allegedly knocked at her door, and when she opened, attacked her and took her car, prosecutors said.
The car, recognised by police, was what led to his detention.
Bouillard said that the suspect was released from jail last year for crimes that were not related to those he was currently suspected of. He only recognised having stolen the car.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Europe