UPDATE: the Kistemaker Family has given me permission to use Ben’s Death Certificate online which answers two important questions. Please scroll down as there are also mistakes in this certificate of death.
In May 1979, Gijsbert Simon “Ben” Kistemaker (26), traveled from the Netherlands to the United States of America. In New York, he bought a faded blue and white 1968 Chevy Van with New York License plate 690MYZ. The plan? Touring the USA.
Kistemaker had a habit of picking up hitchhikers and during his travels, it is very likely that he met up with other travelers.
On September 22, 1979, Kistemaker’s van was found parked in a private park near Coos Bay, mile marker 233, on Highway 101 in Oregon. The van was unlocked and out of gas.
The authorities found receipts in his van. It told them that Kistemaker had traveled up North at least as far as the Seattle area, in the state of Washington.
In the van, they also found Kistemaker’s passport, other forms of identification, and his diary. The last diary entry is deemed to be written in a cramped style and was presumed to be a reference to the place where others were taking him. This hints at kidnapping. But, why did the kidnappers then not clean out his van?
It could be that Kistemaker’s van was taken by his killer(s) after the homicide and then driven as far as the gas would take them hence ending in Coos Bay. But why they didn’t remove his ID and other personal possessions, puzzles me.
According to the family, Kistemaker traveled from New York City to Florida, to Texas, Los Angeles, and planned to go north along the coast to Vancouver. It would take him through the state of Oregon and Washington. From there, he would continue up north to visit relatives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. When he did not show up, they reported him missing.
On December 25, 1979, hunters found Kistemaker’s body in an old gravel pit on Rockport Cascade Road about 3 miles from Rockport, Washington. According to online maps, Coos Bay, OR is about 8-10 hours driving from Rockport, WA.
According to the Skagit County Sheriff’s website, Kistemaker’s death was caused by a gunshot wound.
After reading the articles online I wonder about the following:
- What items were bought and in which quantities?
- Can we deduct from the purchases whether they were all just for Kistemaker or are there hints at purchases made by or for others including women?
- Any traces found near and around the van?
- Any blood inside the van?
- Evidence of a struggle?
Remains and cause of death:
- Kistemaker was found in a gravel pit so I assume that he was visible? Or was he buried in that gravel pit?
- Were the hunters exonerated? Not accusing, just wondering out loud.
- Were Kistemaker’s remains intact e.g. complete? Was he fully clothed? Was he on his back?
- What was the bullet’s trajectory? The trajectory could tell us if Kistemaker was lying down or standing when shot, etc.
- Where was Kistemaker shot? In the heart, in the head, in the abdomen? See below for the answer.
- Was the gunshot wound the most likely cause of death? If shot through the head or heart, yes. But if he was shot in another body part he could have bled to death. Answer: death was instantaneous.
- Were there any other marks on his body to indicate trauma, a struggle, a fight?
- Anything found in or near that gravel pit that could now be tested with modern technology?
- Is there any indication that Kistemaker was shot where he was found or, do we have multiple crime scenes?
- What kind of bullet was used and was the bullet still in his body?
- Is anything of the evidence preserved such as his clothes or shoes? From the dirt on his shoes we might be able to retrace steps (e.g. dirt, pollen, clay, etc.), his clothes might have touch DNA on the shirt or jacket lapels.
- Did he have anything in his pockets?
- Was an autopsy performed? If so, do we still have the report? Answer: yes, an autopsy took place. Is there a report? Not sure.
- Was there anything underneath Kistemaker’s fingernails?
- How long exactly was Kistemaker dead when he was found?
Certificate of Death
The Kistemaker family sent me Ben’s death certificate. It answers two very crucial questions:
Ben was shot in the head. Death was instantaneous.
Kindly note the following incorrect or questionable information on this death certificate:
- date of death is Sept 19, 1979. Is this based on the relatives reporting him missing or, is this based on autopsy findings?
- Ben’s date of birth is given as Oct 20, 1953 but it is Aug 20, 1953.
- The correct address is Wagenpad 1.
- Ben’s mother is Annie Kistemaker-Winkel.
If you have any information, please contact the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office at (360) 428-3211. Gijsbert Simon “Ben” Kistemaker’s cold case file number is 79-5720.
Rest in peace, Gijsbert Simon “Ben” Kistemaker.