Rotterdam's Jack the Ripper caught? Arrest made in decades-old serial killings of 85 prostitutes

Police officers on the street
Police officers on the street. (Photo: Politie)

With the arrest of a 58-year-old man from Rotterdam the police believe they made their first breakthrough in a cold case investigation into the murders of 85 prostitutes in the 80's and 90's. According to the police, the suspect can definitely be linked to two murders, and possibly to three others as well, AD reports.

The judiciary has evidence against the man for the murders of Berendina Stijger in 1990 and Maria Hofland in 1991. There are also similarities between these two murders and the murders of Beppie Michels, Mientje Balkom and Jeanet Sip in 1989 and 1999 - four of the five victims' throats were slit and there were "similar sexual acts". 

Rene Bergwerff, head of the Cold Case team of the Rotterdam police, and his team started investigating the 85 unsolved murder cases in 2011 in a last effort to find the murderers. "Those women were people. With parents. With families. Somehow they got on the wrong path, but we felt they deserved one last chance for their killers to be found." he said to AD. "The tragedy of those lives. Addicted women who were treated as animals and eventually also slaughtered like animals."

The police always assumed that multiple murderers were active in killing prostitutes in the 80's and 90's. "Those 85 cases don't have one perpetrator, but all those cases also don't have 85 different ones", Bergwerff said. "Officially there were no serial killers active in the Netherlands, but we always looked at investigations and neighboring countries. Why would that happen in Belgium and England, and not with us?"

The Rotterdam man, arrested on Tuesday, was tracked down through a DNA trace found in one of the cases. The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) did a so-called kinship study and managed to track him down through a male relative who was arrested for another crime, and therefore had to give a DNA sample.