Day two covering the trial in the Netherlands in the 1998 unsolved case of Nicky Verstappen (11) who went missing from summer camp. Nicky was found dead 40 hours later. His body was a kilometer away from camp in an area where Christmas trees are grown for wholesale. All posts about Verstappen can be found here.
WARNING: this post contains graphic details!
I am covering what I read in the papers and online. There is of course more information for example in podcasts. I may get one of my friends to cover that for this case.
Jos Brech is charged with abduction, sexual assault, manslaughter, and possession of child pornography.
First, some issues from yesterday. Some people were upset to read that the defense attorney actually did his job and defended his client. I understand that emotions fly high when crimes are committed against children and especially where the suspicion of sexual assaut is present however, the job of a defense attorney is to ensure that the defendant’s rights are not violated when confronted with the power of the state as represented by the prosecution. Aside from all our personal feelings is the fact that Brech is innocent until proven guilty. That is the law, the foundation in a constitutional state.
Second, there is the debate whether experts can still make credible findings from examining autopsy photography versus the conclusions of the examining pathologists at the time after the crime. This is something that we should cover at some point here on DCC.
What I am referring to is that on day 1, yesterday, there was a discussion whether the anal widening was caused by assault or whether it was the consequence of livor mortis with the muscles relaxing leading to a widening. If I understood correctly, there was no other anal trauma characteristic of sexual assault. However, not everything was covered and i am still looking into this case.
Third, no clear signs of dragging were found but indeed, if Brech turned Verstappen’s body and straightened him, there is the chance that some traces were disturbed. However, authorities feels secure they didn’t find any.
Fourth, is there a possibility that Brech will be acquitted if we cannot establish the exact cause of death and if he had a reasonable explanation for his DNA being present on Verstappens body? Yes, it is possible but note several points here:
- the exact cause is death seems to be suffocation as there are no clear signs of trauma caused by strangulation (either with an object or manually) however, there is no definitive answer
- the amount of DNA found on Verstappen and exactly at what body/clothing part will be important for the judges to make the decision about its significance
- experts cannot be absolutely certain that there was sexual assault
- three judges are hearing the case and how they weigh the evidence will not be know until October 16, 2020
Today, the prosecution gave more insight into the DNA, the amounts they found, and the locations. To make it visual, they created a 3D image of Verstappen’s underwear. The DNA found contains more than 20 strains matching Brech in hair dander, saliva, and hair particles. Brech said yesterday that he checked for a pulse, a heartbeat, and in doing so touched Verstappen’s body. I made the remark then that I understood arms, face, and neck as reasonable locations to find DNA but the underwear?
According to the prosecution, Brech’s DNA is on the front and the back of Verstappen’s underwear and on the outside and inside. The defense said that contamination cannot be disregarded. That is correct. We have seen numerous cases were DNA did get contaminated (unintentionally and intentionally) however, we still need to determine what other strands were found.
When Verstappen was found, he was dressed in only his red pajama bottoms and blue underwear. Both clothing items were inside out and backwards. Whether Verstappen wore a pajama top when he went missing isn’t clear but the two pairs of shows he had brought to camp, were still in the tent. His feet were clear of injuries. The traces found on his feet match the location where he was found. The vegetation traces on his pajama bottoms match the location too. Had Verstappen walked through different vegetation, they feel sure that they should have found some traces on the pant bottoms and his feet.
Upon finding the body, he was covered in special foil to preserve all traces, dust, particles, etc. There was no sperm on his clothes. A little further from where he was found was a clearing. There authorities found a tissue with sperm, a cigarette butt, and a bottle cap. The sperm has not shown a match in the national databases yet. They did test camp management, family members, friends, etc. Nothing. I am not sure that it is related to this case.
Most DNA was found on the underwear, inside, and the waistband. There was one spot found on the pajama bottom. For the longest time, the source/carrier of that DNA was unknown. Police conducted extensive DNA searches, examined state lab personnel, police, etc. They even exhumed a man. No match.
In 2017, they put out a massive call for help to men in the area to voluntarily give their DNA to see if police could make a match using genealogy. Police called on 1150 men from the area. Brech was included in that group. Brech never showed up and still refuses to explain why. He went missing shortly after. That story has been covered in previous posts abut this case. A summary is in the database.
A man who had helped Brech move still had some items. DNA samples were taken from Brech’s brother and grandfather. Their DNA matched the items from the move. It also matched the DNA found on Verstappen. After Brech was caught and arrested, they took another DNA sample from his mouth to secure the matches.
The defense correctly points to mixed-profiles. There is some small DNA strands from a friend who shared Verstappen’s tent and Nicky’s father, but the majority came from Brech. The DNA from the friend and father could have been deposited during play and while helping Nicky pack his bag for camp.
Brech remained mostly silent today and didn’t give any further explanations. He also didn’t add further information about his trip to France and Spain. He has no prior convictions for manslaughter/murder but is known to police for inappropriate touching of very young children. I am not sure whether any of those cases lead to charges and/or convictions. What we did learn is that Brech didn’t cooperate in his psychiatric evaluations while in jail.
In court, a 3D image was shown from Verstappen’s underwear. It is blue with a white accent.
This image shows all stands that were found. There are spots that didn’t contain DNA.
Brech’s DNA is mostly on the inside of the underwear and the waistband.
As far as I know, there not one image publicly available with only Brech’s DNA. It has been shown in court though.
I am skipping the part of the child pornography. Brech’s computer and hard drive have been searched for images and his browsers for keywords. Very graphic. Brech’s life has been discussed including deaths in his family, his career, his indecent behaviour amongst very young boys and girls, and more.
The next court day is on October 5, 2020. I will be checking other newspapers during the day so may adjust this post, ass clarifications, etc. If you use Twitter follow this account from journalist Saskia Belleman. She is the court reporter for the newspaper De Telegraaf.