Missing: Johanna “Jopie” Atalia Gersina de Haas from Amsterdam, the Netherlands. She was last seen on February 8, 1960, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. And then she vanished. Her family is still looking for her.
UPDATE Feb 13, 2015: I spoke to the Dutch National Police this morning. The DNA results from the 1996 Fairfax County Jane Doe showed she was NOT Jopie de Haas.
Of course, we hope that one day we will find out who that Jane Doe was to give her a proper farewell.
Jopie was born on October 4, 1936 in Amsterdam. All the information that I found state that Jopie started working in the red-light districts of Amsterdam in the 50s. Her age at that time would have been in the range of 14-24 years. Jopie was married however, it is not clear at what age she married Pertus Blommaert van Weesp but she divorced him before becoming a prostitute.
In 1957, she gave birth to a baby girl who she called Roos (in English: Rose). Approximately six weeks after the birth, she gave her daughter up for “adoption.” Note that there is a discrepancy between the various sites printed below whether Jopie gave up Roos after 3 or 6 weeks. Undisputed is that Roos was adopted.
According to the magazine the WeesperNieuws, this adoption took place in a café on the Amsterdam Zeedijk. Jopie remained in the red-light district for a few more years. According to the magazine, she left for Hemer, Germany in February 1960 accompanied by a German soldier. Not one source I looked at can back this up with materials, links, or data.
There is speculation that from Germany, Jopie travelled to Canada or to the USA. And that’s why this old cold case is so important. There is every possibility that Jopie could be an active unidentified person case here in the USA or in Canada. According to some sites there were sightings of her in Quebec, Canada and in the USA.
The WeesperNieuws published a very interesting article about Jopie in 2008. It is in Dutch, the link is below, and roughly translated it states this:
Investigations zoned in on the 1996 American suicide case of an unidentified woman. This woman was about 60 years old (matching Jopie’s age), was wearing glasses in a Dutch frame, and apparently resembled Jopie. There is a composition sketch on the NamUs site (link below).
The interesting detail is that the woman committed suicide in the section of the graveyard where the infants are buried. Is this related to regret, guilt, or a sign that her last thoughts were with her own child? Maybe.
The 2008 magazine mentioned DNA testing as ongoing to determine whether this Jane Doe could be Roos’ mother. I checked with Dutch Police and she is NOT a DNA match with Roos/Jopie.
Continuing with the WeesperNieuws: Little is known about Roos’ biological father. Jopie’s ex-husband Pertus Blommaert maintained that he was not the father. Despite absence of any scientific proof, Roos believes that he told the truth. After his death, Pertus’ daughters told Roos that around 1956/1957 Jopie had an affair with a man called Dick Bastiaan. They thought that he was born around 1935. They were not sure about the spelling of his last name. If true, he could be a candidate for establishing paternity.
According to the magazine, Roos did not do well. She felt that as an adopted child, she didn’t belong in the family. After her adopted father passed away when she was just twelve years old she had to help earn money for the family. Then one day, Jopie showed up unannounced to see how Roos was doing. This didn’t sit well with Roos. The teenager in her closed the door on her biological mother. The adult Roos has forever regretted that decision.
Her adopted mom did tell Roos bits and pieces about Jopie. When Roos started a search for Jopie her adopted mother took that very hard. It was only after her adopted mom died that Roos embarked on a big scale search for Jopie.
Websleuths and concerns
The websleuths have more information about the Jane Doe who committed suicide. Here is a link to their discussion. One member made a reconstruction based on the skull. The unidentified woman they refer to was found in Fairfax County, Virginia. The link is here.
She matches Jopie somewhat in age but differs in height (6’0″ and Jopie was 5’38”) and most notably in hair colour. Jopie’s nickname as a prostitute was “Zwarte Jopie.” Zwart means black referring to her hair colour. The Jane Doe is described as having curly copper coloured hair.
In the jewelry section there is a description for frames but it doesn’t say that they were Dutch made as other articles did. The woman’s story is very sad. I have copied this:
“This unidentified woman committed suicide on December 18, 1996. She left two 50$ bills one for the coroner and one for the cemetery with the same typed note:
Deceased by own hand…prefer no autopsy.
Please order cremation with funds provided.
Thank you, Jane Doe
She was located inside Pleasant Valley Memorial Park, a small cemetery in Annandale, Virginia. There was a clear plastic sheet on the ground. Next to the sheet was an 8″ Christmas tree, adorned with gold balls and red ribbons.
In addition to drinking brandy (she had a 0.14 blood-alcohol level) and swallowing Valium, the victim had two empty juice bottles and a new roll of masking tape in her knapsack.
She had no receipts in her pockets to enable police to trace her movements. She had a portable tape player, the headphones over her ears and had listened to a recording of comedians Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner doing their “2000 year old man” routine.
She had placed a plastic bag over her head and tied it off with tape. This made her suffocate.
The site she chose, Pleasant Valley, probably wouldn’t be known to a drifter. She lay down near the section of the cemetery where infants are buried, but not near any particular grave, and most of the stones nearby were fairly recent.”
If this was Jopie, I’d expect her to listen to some Dutch songs or music. The Christmas scene seems to hint at setting the mood for happier times possibly with family memories. You can see that tree on the NamUs website (link below).
She was very much aware of the trouble her suicide would cause others by leaving money behind to cover costs, leaving instructions to make sure that nobody was falsely accused of her murder, and by placing a clear sheet on the ground for wrapping and covering. After I read this, I felt terrible for this woman. Alone, waiting for death, surrounded by plastic and graves. And we still do not know who she is.
I listened to the Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner act. Of course it is possible that this was her favourite act. But the Christmas scene makes me think of nostalgia especially combined with the infant area of the cemetery and the scar on her abdomen. I could not find anything specific in the act that refers to either Amsterdam, Dutch life, etc. So if this woman was Jopie, she must have chosen this because she loved the comedy. Maybe it brought back memories of watching this act together with people she loved. I will ask around whether this particular act was very popular in the Netherlands. If I find out, I will update this section.
Height: 164cm (approx 5.38 foot)
Hair color: deep black
Eye color: dark brown
Skin color: white
No known distinctive body features
Clothing and accessories are unknown at time missing
Dutch National Police Contact Information
If you have any information about Johanna “Jopie” Atalia Gersina de Haas please contact the Dutch National Police at 0800-6070 or from outside the Netherlands, dial +31 79 3459 876.
The case jacket number is 06261105 (their website with Jopie’s case was last updated on Oct 23, 2012)
Roos van Rheenen’s website
The Doe Network