France was in shock Thursday after a nine-year-old girl was found dead in a wood shortly after being snatched in front of her mother from a playground in the northern city of Calais.
A Polish man with a long criminal history, who had been banned from French territory, has admitted to raping and murdering the girl, sources close to the investigation told AFP.
The 38-year-old was arrested on Wednesday night near the woods where her naked, lifeless body was found.
Chloe was playing with a friend when a man "appeared and grabbed her, forcing her to get into a red car," prosecutors said in a statement.
Her mother, who was present with two other children, burst into panicked screams as the man, described by witnesses as bald and wearing sunglasses, shoved Chloe into his car.
Police were alerted to the kidnapping at 3:30 pm and search teams were dispatched, one of which made the grisly discovery of the murdered child just an hour-and-a-half later.
Nearby, police found the red vehicle with Polish number plates, and the driver — heavily under the influence of alcohol — was arrested not far from the scene shortly thereafter.
The man was banned from French territory after being released from prison a few months ago, where he had been serving time for extortion and aggravated robbery.
The French city of Calais was plunged into mourning after the killing of the dark blonde girl described as "cheerful and full of life."
Flags in the city flew at half mast and residents planned a solemn march in memory of Chloe later Thursday.
"It's horrific," a shocked mother of two told AFP outside Chloe's school on Thursday morning, where a counseling unit has been set up.
"My son knew her, he didn't sleep last night, he knows he will never see her again. I can't even imagine what the parents are going through," she said.