Police were watching suspect in Romanian girl's murder before suicide; locals don't believe he's dead

Johannes 'Joop' V.
Johannes 'Joop' V.Photo: YouTube

The Dutch man who is suspected of murdering an 11-year-old girl in Romania and who died in an apparent traffic suicide on Monday, was being watched by the police before his death, the Dutch Public Prosecution Service confirmed. Police officers were following him at a distance, waiting for the go-ahead from Romanian authorities to arrest him, when he swerved his car into oncoming traffic in Escharen and collided head-on with a truck, the Public Prosecutor said, NOS reports.

In Gura Sutii, the Romanian village where 11-year-old Mihaela Fieraru was abducted and killed on Friday, people are still living in fear, mayor Constantin Dinu said to newspaper AD. "Everyone is terrified. People do not believe that the Dutch man is now dead", he said to the newspaper. "Is he really dead?" The young victim's mother said the same thing: "I don't think he's dead."

According to the Romanian prosecutor, Johannes V., who went by Joop, visited Romania at least four times before this weekend. The police are investigating whether he made other victims, the prosecutor said to local media. "We do not know if there are other victims, but all traces must be investigated." The Romanian prosecutor also said that there is no evidence of an accomplice being involved, refuting rumors that V.s wife was being sought. 

Mihaela disappeared on her way home from school on Friday. Her body was found in a field some seven kilometers from her hometown on Sunday. She had been sexually abused and strangled. V. was quickly linked to the girl's disappearance - the car he rented was caught in the town on surveillance cameras at around the same time the girl disappeared. On Monday V. died in a traffic collision in Escharen.

According to the Dutch Public Prosecutor, investigation into the collision showed that the police surveillance team was driving at a considerable distance from the suspect and at a normal speed between other traffic. "There is no evidence that the driver noticed the observation team."

On Tuesday the police searched Johannes V.'s home in Beers, in the Noord-Brabant municipality of Cuijk. The Prosecutor also said that the man was 46-years-old, not 47 as reported earlier.

According to an ex-fiiance, V. was previously convicted of multiple sex crimes and sentenced to jail and institutionalized psychiatric treatment.