Arrest in 1998 Nicky Verstappen case

Nicky Verstappen Photography Dutch Police

Nicky Verstappen Photography Dutch Police

Judges from the Madrid High Court in Spain decided this morning (Aug 27, 2018) that Jos Brech (55) shall be extradited to the Netherlands. Brech is the prime suspect in the 1998 murder of Nicky Verstappen (11).

Brech was interviewed by video conference by the judges. He agreed to an accelerated procedure for extradition according to a spokesman for the Catalan court in Granollers. If you look on a map, find Barcelona first. Then look up at about 1 o’clock to find Granollers. If Brech had not agreed the legal procedures to extradite him would have taken between 60-90 days.

The arrest is the result of a tip from a Dutch man living in Spain. He knew the area and had actually briefly spoken to Brech. When he saw the picture he called the paper De Telegraaf who in turn called police. The paper kept the tip quiet to not hinder the investigation and later arrest.

Brech was arrested Aug 26, 2018, in ”a mountainous area near the town of Castelltercol some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Barcelona while he was going out to cut wood, Spanish police said in a statement on Monday.” He had done an online search for abandoned areas in the northern part of Spain.

Spanish Police AFP Nicky Verstappen case

Spanish Police AFP

In a picture shared by Spanish police, Brech appears face down on a dirt road with his hands handcuffed behind his back as police stand over him.

There are no details about the second man held by police as seen in the picture. The other picture is just Brech with an officer.

Spanish police, who released the pictures, told the media that Brech had packed “survival gear, fishing tackles, a book about edible wild plants, envelopes with dehydrated food, boots and mountain clothing and many different types of batteries.” He was on abandoned land in an isolated house that is used by local homeless people.

Police searched a cabin Brech owns in the French Vosges area. There they found traces of Nicky Verstappen’s DNA on some of Brech’s possessions. No details have been released about the kind of possessions. In 1985, Brech had been a suspect in a sex crime but the case never went to trial.

Spanish Police AFP Nicky Verstappen case

Spanish Police AFP

After the murder on Nicky, police did find biological materials on Nicky’s PJs however, they needed advanced technology. But even when DNA technology had caught up, there was no match in the Dutch DNA-databases. So they did what they had done before: wide-scaled voluntary DNA swabbing.

The use of familial DNA through widespread DNA-searches helped police crack the Marianne Vaatstra case. Now it was Nicky’s turn.

Hundreds of police officers were used to set into motion the biggest familial DNA search in Dutch history in October 2017. Brech disappeared at the same time and had not been seen or heard of since.

Nicky Verstappen was last seen alive on Aug 10, 1998, near the tent he shared with other kids at camp. When his friends woke up he wasn’t there. After extensive searches the next day police found Nicky’s body. He was in a field about 1 mile away from camp. He was dressed in his PJ bottoms and he was barefoot. His feet were clean and unharmed indicating that most likely, he had not walked to the place where he was found. No dirt or signs of scratches on his soles. This could mean that Nicky was sedated and carried into that field. There was the possibility that he was sexually assaulted. The cause of death was not obvious or maybe it just was never released to the public. An autopsy later would clarify this, see below.

I read on another crime blog that the DNA came from sperm found on a tissue near Nicky’s body however, that is wrong. The DNA that matched Brech came from Nicky’s red Ajax pajama bottoms. According to this archive, he was also wearing dark blue underwear. I will come back to this later.

Nicky had left his shoes in the tent and when found, was only dressed in pajama bottoms. I wonder where the top is. His remains were found without outward signs of violence hinting too at the use of drugs to incapacitate the 11-year-old. What is weird is that the K9 dogs didn’t find him.

But that isn’t the only issue in this case. I know we will probably hear a lot more in the coming days as the case unfolds and the prosecution officially files charges against Brech. But consider this: Nicky disappeared from camp. That summer camp was organized every year by an organization called “Primary work” for all the village children. All the camp leaders lived in Heibloem and were well-vested in the village. Everyone knows everyone and some things were kept quiet. Some of those things are related to sex so when it was made public that Nicky was possibly assaulted, it was silenced.

School Principal Joos Barten (1918-2003) who founded the local football club, youth work, also had a record. In 1954 he had been sentenced to three month in jail for groping children at his own school. Some of his victims remained in the village. After Nicky was found dead, Barten moved to another village.

Nicky’s death and possible sexual assault opened up the tightly closed Pandora box of sexual misconduct by some of the village pillars. Barten had taught at more than one school and accusations started to pour in. Ultimately, Barten’s DNA didn’t match the DNA found on Nicky however, Barten could still have known who committed this crime. You can see that such toxic influences hinder a police investigation.

According to this archive, a toxicology report from Oct 21, 1998, from the autopsy didn’t render any results. The cause of death undetermined (or just not made public to protect the investigation) but it did confirm one thing that was feared: Nicky had been raped. “Injuries indicate penetration” and here is another detail: his PJ bottoms were on his body inside out and the underwear inside out and backwards.

If you want to read about the man who spearheaded the DNA part of the investigation check out this article and most importantly check this timeline to see how the case developed. A lot more will be made public and I will try to update this case as best I can. It may not be in a separate post but just in my database.

Rest in peace Nicky Verstappen.


Telegraaf Aug 27, 2018 Aug 27, 2018

Telegraaf Jan 26, 2018

Mercury News Aug 22, 2018