How does a suspect react when a net closes around him? The now convicted Jasper S. chose not to hide himself any longer. He participated in a large-scale DNA kinship research in the Marianne Vaatstra case, when an invitation came.
Jos B., suspect in the Nicky Verstappen case, seems to have wanted to disappear after announcing a similar investigation. Justice has its hereditary material through house search and DNA donated by relatives. The Verstappen family was informed in early June of the match with traces found on Nicky. But Jos B. has not heard anything from the last six months.
He already came into the picture with the investigating authorities the night after the discovery of the body of Verstappen in August 1998. The eleven-year-old boy from the Central Limburg Heibloem had disappeared two nights before from a camp of local youth on the heath at the South Limburg Brunssum. A day and a half later he was found in a pine forest at a distance of one kilometer from the camp: death. The Marechaussee guarded that spot in the following night and stumbled around half a cyclist passing by.
That turned out to be the 35-year-old B. He was warm, he said, and had gone cycling for a while. A report of this statement was drawn up, but he was never formally regarded as a suspect. He was heard twice in 2001 as a witness in a so-called second opinion investigation into the death of Verstappen.
Suspicious sexual abuse
B. years before, in 1985, had been a suspect in a sexual abuse case. The Limburgs Dagblad reported in July of that year the confession of "a man from Simpelveld". He said that he had been fornicated with two ten-year-old boys from Wijnandsrade during a treasure hunt. The same article reported fornication with two minors from Wijlre a summer earlier. Then the suspect would have been released after a report. B. had been active in youth work for some time.
The moral issue was dismissed in the mid-1980s. In the systems of the police and judiciary, there is now nothing left to find. It is not clear whether that was the case in 1998. "If that were the case, then that was apparently not a reason to consider B. as a suspect", says head of the Limburg police, Ingrid Schäfer-Poels. "I assume the professionalism of our people back then." B. was still active as a scouting leader in Heerlen and Nuth after 1998 and at a daycare center in Brunssum.
He did belong – still not as a suspect – to the men who were approached for kinship research to donate DNA. It is the largest ever held in the Netherlands; sixteen thousand people have now donated DNA. The police came to him twice in the house where he lived with his mother. In vain.
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B. was reported missing this year. He left Limburg in February, claiming a hike in the French Vosges to the German border, a journey of 145 kilometers under very winter conditions. He would return for a visit to his seriously ill mother, but never showed up. She has since passed away.
The missing person and the investigation into the death of Nicky Verstappen eventually came together through hereditary material found in both cases. According to Schäfer-Poels, almost everything has since been focused on finding B. Especially in the Vosges people have been intensively sought.
According to justice, the suspect knows what it means to stay out of the picture and to survive in the wilderness. He turned on bushcraften, staying in nature with only the resources present there. Since last autumn, B. was the manager of a base camp in the Vosges and board member of the Randoloup NatureWise foundation of whom that camp was. In a profile on the internet, he presents himself as a man with a strong predilection for outdoor life, wild camping, photography, scouting and (edible) plants.
The police have only limited time to dive into the background and the past of the suspect. Police Chief Schäfer-Poels: "That had to do with secrecy. We had to take into account the privacy of the suspect and had to test all other methods before we could go out at a press conference with his name and photos. Permission was needed at ministerial level. "
Also read this report on the case from 2003: Silence about a moral past