Suspect in Rotterdam girl's disappearance has daughter in NL: report

Man sought in the disappearance of 12-year-old Hania from Rotterdam, 28 June 2019
Man sought in the disappearance of 12-year-old Hania from Rotterdam, 28 June 2019Photo: Politie

A 49-year-old American man arrested in the disappearance of 12-year-old Hania from Rotterdam on Friday, is James B. from Louisiana. He has a daughter in the Netherlands, RTL Nieuws and AD report based on information from the lawyer representing the daughter and her mother. Hania was found alive in a hotel in Rotterdam with B. on Friday. The suspect was arraigned on Monday and remanded into custody for another two weeks, according to RTV Rijnmond. 

Lawyer Machteld Roethof reportedly told AD and RTL that B. raped a Dutch woman 19 years ago, impregnating her after holding her captive. She wanted to press charges against the man at the time, but was sent away, the lawyer said. On Friday morning, the police were suddenly at the woman's door. "It was feared that the daughter of my client could possibly be abducted by this B. This time the police seemed to - fortunately - take my client seriously", Roethof said to AD. The woman recognized B. in the photos the police released, according to the newspaper.

The daughter told RTL that she friends with Hania through an online game about horses - Star Stable. The two girls regularly chatted on the game's chat room. B. also approached them there and chatted with them, the daughter said to the broadcaster. According to her, B. identified himself as her biological father and they mostly chatted about every day things. 

The 12-year-old Hania left her Rotterdam school at around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, telling a teacher that she had an appointment at the orthodontist. Her family sounded the alarm when she didn't arrive home at her usual time. The police issued an Amber Alert for the girl - an alert issued only if the police believe a missing child is in life threatening danger - after investigation showed that she had no orthodontist appointment and that chat conversations she had on a tablet had been deleted. On Friday morning the police released photos of the suspect wanted in connection with her disappearance. The pre-teen girl was found with the American man in a Rotterdam hotel on Friday evening. The man was arrested. Hania was offered aid.

The police refused to confirm or deny the suspect's identity to AD and refused to comment to RTL. But unidentified police sources confirmed to the newspaper that the suspect is indeed James B., also confirming part of the story told by lawyer Roethof. The two photos the police released of the man include a recent image taken at Schiphol, and a photo from a Facebook account under the name Jamie B. According to this account, B. lives in Louisiana.

The daughter told RTL that the police confiscated her laptop and hard drive for investigation. But she was able to show the broadcaster a message she sent to the online game immediately after the police contacted her and her mother. The message includes her name and account name, and the same information about B. and Hania, according to the broadcaster. 

Lawyer Roethof told AD that her client has been living in fear of B. for years, terrified that he would abduct her daughter. She hopes to now be able to press charges against the man.