DNA drive catches 1998 child murder suspect | News | DW | 27.08.2018
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DNA drive catches 1998 child murder suspect

Decades after a young Dutch boy was murdered, DNA tests have led authorities to the main suspect near the Spanish city of Barcelona. Suspect Jos B. has agreed to be extradited to the Netherlands.

The suspect in the 1998 murder of a Dutch boy agreed on Monday to be extradited back to the Netherlands, a day after he was arrested by police outside of Barcelona following a decades-long search.

Suspect Jos B. was escorted to a tribunal in the city of Granollers, where he told a Madrid High Court judge via video link that he agreed to be handed over to Dutch authorities.

The 55-year-old faces charges of murder, sexual aggression and kidnapping. He will remain in detention until his extradition, the court said.

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Details of the case

  • In 1998, an 11-year-old boy disappeared in the middle of the night from a Dutch summer camp near the German border.
  • A day later, his body was found near the camp site. Authorities said he had been sexually abused before he was killed.
  • Jos B., the main suspect in the case, disappeared in April this year. Police unsuccessfully attempted to track him down in the Vosges region in France.
  • French and Dutch police later raided a cabin he owned in France and found traces of the slain boy's DNA on clothes he had left behind. "It was a match," according to Dutch prosecutors.
  • The 55-year-old suspect told the Madrid judge on Monday that he had been in Spain since March.
Mother and sister of murder victim

The victim's family "is very relieved" that the main suspect has been arrested, according to the family's spokesman

'Thanks to a witness'

In February, Dutch police launched a DNA test drive, calling on more than 21,000 men who live near the where the boy's body was found to step forward and give samples in the hopes of catching the murderer.

Investigators said they tracked down the main witness to a mountainous area near the town of Castelltercol, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Barcelona, "thanks to a witness who recognized him after seeing his picture in the media in recent days."

"The family is very relieved. Justice will be done," wrote journalist Peter R. de Vries, spokesperson for the victim's family, on Twitter.

The victim's mother, Berthie Verstappen, said the family was surprised that the suspect was arrested so quickly following last week's police appeal. "We feared he would hide so well that he would not be found for months," she told Dutch public television. "We would love to have answers to the questions we have, even if we dread hearing what happened.".

Over the past two decades, Dutch police had made several wrong arrests in relation to the case, and even resorted to opening up the grave of a former camp supervisor. 

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dm, ls/es (AFP, AP, dpa)

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