In 1971, Maria Daanen aka Ria, went missing from Koudekerk aan den Rijn, the Netherlands.
She is white, about 5’8″ (1 m 78 cm), was around 176 lbs (80 kg), with brown hair and eyes.
In the photographs, notice the position of her upper teeth.
At some point in the night of December 11, 1971, Maria “Ria” Daanen went missing after another fight with husband Jan Daanen. He told police that after they argued, he retired around 10pm. Ria had hinted at leaving him and the children. He went to bed and woke at 3am the next day. Ria was gone.
According to the papers, Ria was not happily married. In the papers are stories about frequent quarrels with her husband and with her father when she was still at home. But she was also intelligent and fiercely independent. She left the parental home at a young age.
In a window of 5 hours, Ria took clothes, money, and her passport according to the papers, and then left the house. There is no mention of a bag or a suitcase. Where did she get the cash? Could she have packed a bag without waking up anyone in the house?
Most notably, she left without her three daughters: twins, aged four, and a one-year-old. It is not a common pattern for women to leave behind very young children. Not common but not impossible.
Retired Dutch Detective Piet Noorlander has been studying Ria’s case. In the media, he explained in detail how he investigated this case. There were no signs of a homicide, no object was found that could have been a murder weapon, and no unidentified bodies were ever linked to Ria.
Ria’s family has for the longest time suspected that her husband Jan knew more. Rumors galore in the small village didn’t advance the case. So, tired of being suspected, Jan went to the media. He said that he was innocent, frankly admitted that he didn’t care if Ria ever came back, but for old times’ sake would like to know where she is.
There is a lot online about this case so do a simple search under her name and everything will pop up. Since a lot of the information is in Dutch, I have translated and expanded on two issues: scenarios and suspects.
Scenario involving Jan Daanen
IF Jan killed her, where is her body? How did he get her out of the house and towards the crime scene if she was not killed at home? Where is the crime scene and do we possibly have more than one? Where she was killed need not be the spot where her remains were hidden.
Could Jan have gotten out of the house, after 10pm with the children asleep inside, to get Ria out of the house? Can we prove that he didn’t retire earlier? And what type of transportation was used? According to the papers, she was heavier than he was so he might have needed help. Who would do this for Jan and keep quiet after all these years?
There are reasons to consider Jan a suspect:
- he told police that Ria took her passport with her that night. However, a family member recalls seeing that passport inside the house after Ria disappeared. I am curious if it indeed as found by police or not.
- he filed for divorce soon after Ria vanished.
- he allegedly burned her possessions.
This indeed doesn’t look like the actions of a grieving husband or one longing for her return. It looks like the actions of a man who is happy to be free. But all this doesn’t make him a murderer.
Jan remarried. She passed away before Det. Noorlander could speak to her about the case. Jan passed away in 2007. On his deathbed, he said words that kept all the speculation around Ria going. To one of his daughters he said “I can’t and won’t tell you.”
Jan had a brother. If he had needed an accomplice, the village was convinced that his brother would help. Noorlander visited that brother unannounced and used all his detective and interrogative skills to analyze this man. It took several hours but then Noorlander was convinced: this man was telling the truth. He didn’t know anything.
Noorlander also spoke to all the family members and with each he felt that they were truthful, not hiding information, and not lying. That leaves one option.
Suspects: Ria and Jan Daanen
There is the possibility that Ria’s disappearance was orchestrated by herself and her husband.
Imagine an unhappy marriage and both partners want out. Divorce might not be an option due to religion or societal consequences. But there is one way.
It requires cooperation from both, eternal silence from both to protect themselves and the three children, but it will give both the freedom to start a new life.
What if Jan helped Maria Daanen to disappear in exchange for freedom?
What if he agreed to her leaving if she left the children with him and never contact them? What if he promised that they would never want for anything and he would keep them safe?
What if she considered freedom, to start a new life, maybe with a new husband, and maybe have more children, etc.? She was described as intelligent and independent. Would she have considered such an option?
If it is not an option, why did Det. Noorlander ask for an aged progressed picture of Ria Daanen after all these years? Noorlander is quoted in the papers as “Ik denk niet dat Ria dood is.’’ Translation: I do not think that Ria is dead. It is possible that Ria left the Netherlands, settled down in another country, and lives there under a different name.
This scenario would explain the words on Jan’s deathbed. I can’t tell you as I promised that I would never tell. I made a pact. I won’t tell you.
Kindly note that if Maria Daanen is ever found alive and does not want to contact her family, standard operating procedure is that police will respect her wishes.
If you have any information about Maria Daanen, please contact the Dutch Police at 0800-6070. If you are calling from outside the Netherlands, please dial: +31793459876. Her case number is 18064357.