Survival expert, 55, is arrested in Spain over 1998 murder of Dutch boy, 11, after he was spotted near Barcelona
- Nicky Verstappen, 11, was found dead in forest in August 1998 after youth camp
- The Dutch boy’s death sparked Holland’s most extensive murder probe to date
- Suspect Jos Brech, a survival expert, has now been arrested near Barcelona
A survival expert wanted over the brutal 1998 killing of a young Dutch boy has been arrested in Spain after one of the most extensive murder investigations to date in the Netherlands.
Nicky Verstappen was 11 when he disappeared during the night of August 9, 1998, while at a summer camp at the Brunssumerheide nature reserve, near the German border.
His body was found the next evening, close to the camp site. He had been sexually abused before he was killed.
Suspect Jos Brech, a former scout worker who is believed to be a survival expert, was reported missing in April and police had thought he was hiding in France’s mountainous eastern Vosges region, where he owns a chalet.
Survival expert Jos Brech, wanted over the brutal 1998 killing of a young Dutch boy, has been arrested in Spain after one of the most extensive murder investigations to date in the Netherlands. Pictures show the moment he was arrested
Suspect Jos Brech (left), a former scout worker who is believed to be a survival expert, has been arrested near Barcelona over the murder of Nicky Verstappen (right)
Brech, 55, was arrested (pictured as he lies face down in handcuffs) near Barcelona ‘thanks to a witness who recognised him after seeing his picture in the media in recent days’ investigators said
Nicky was found dead a day after he went missing from his tent (pictured) at a youth camp in Limburg
Brech, 55, was arrested near Barcelona ‘thanks to a witness who recognised him after seeing his picture in the media in recent days’ investigators added, hailing the ‘good cooperation’ with the Spanish police.
‘Jos B, 55, a suspect in the death of Nicky Verstappen was arrested in Spain on Sunday afternoon. He was taken into custody and will be handed over to the Netherlands,’ a police statement issued in Limburg, the southern district in which the boy disappeared, said.
Journalist Peter R. de Vries, spokesman for the dead boy’s family, exclaimed on Twitter: ‘We got him! Jos Brech was arrested in Spain near Barcelona!’
‘The family is very relieved. Justice will be done!’
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Police at the time of the murder mounted a massive search closely followed by local media and the Dutch public, but the 11-year-old boy’s killer was never found.
As time ran out to catch the suspect, police earlier this year appealed to more than 20,000 men to donate DNA samples in a bid to close in on the perpetrator.
Police said new digital techniques helped them to develop a DNA profile in 2008, from traces found on Verstappen’s clothing, but there had been no match.
Earlier this year, some 16,000 men living in the area where Verstappen was murdered volunteered to hand over DNA samples after a call by detectives.
Nicky Verstappen (pictured) was 11 when he disappeared during the night of August 9, 1998, while at a summer camp at the Brunssumerheide nature reserve, near the German border
Dutch crime reporter Peter de Vries (right), Nicky’s father Peter Verstappen, sister Femke and mother Berthie Verstappen sit next to each other during an earlier press conference
However Brech, who was 35 at the time of the murder, was not among the volunteers but as he was previously interviewed as a witness, police became suspicious.
When his family reported him as missing, Dutch and French police searched his cabin in the Vosges region.
‘We found traces of DNA on his personal belongings. It was a match,’ chief prosecutor Jan Eland said last week when Dutch police announced they had identified a suspect.
A European-wide warrant for Brech’s arrest was issued on June 12.
This timeline of the investigation shows how the number of people volunteering to give their DNA increased so police could compare it to DNA found on Nicky’s clothes in a bid to find a suspect
This image is believed to show the forest in the Netherlands where Nicky disappeared and where his body was found
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