Amber Alert issued for missing Belgian boy; Suspect arrested
Update: Belgian police stated the missing child’s name is Dean Verberckmoes. Dutch police said his name is Dean Michael Chantal.
Dutch police arrested 34-year-old Belgian man Dave de K. on Monday afternoon who is suspected of kidnapping the 4-year-old boy he was babysitting in Belgium last week. The man was found alone in the village of Meerkerk, Utrecht. Authorities in the Netherlands issued an Amber Alert for the child, Dean Verberckmoes, when they were unable to determine the child’s whereabouts by questioning the suspect.
Verberckmoes has brown hair and is 102 centimeters tall. He was last seen wearing a dark blue jacket with red stripes, police said.
The man was previously sentenced to ten years in prison in 2010 for acts of child abuse which led to the death of a two-year-old toddler, the Eastern Flanders district of the public prosecutor’s office told Belga. “The person concerned served his sentence, and the sentence came to an end in December 2018,” the prosecution service said.
The boy’s mother, Elke Verberckmoes, said she dropped the child off on Wednesday with a couple who watched their son in the past. The couple is one of her girlfriends, and her partner, De K.. She stated that the man had looked after the child before and that she trusted the couple completely. The child was supposed to stay over at their house for one night, but instead of dropping Dean off at his grandmother’s house, they kept the child for an additional night.
On Friday, Verberckmoes said the couple had a fight, and De K. left, taking Dean with him. The two drove off from his home. They were last seen south of Zeeland in the Belgian town of Sint-Niklaas, police said. Verberckmoes was in contact with De K. Saturday afternoon, but soon after he stopped answering her phone calls. Belgian police issued an alert the following day, according to media reports in that country.
Since Monday afternoon, police said it was likely that the two were in the south of the Netherlands. The man's car, a gray Peugeot, was found at a commercial property in Gorinchem, Zuid-Holland. It was not revealed how the man traveled from there to Meerkerk.
Anyone who thinks they saw De K. or Verberckmoes should call 112 immediately. Police asked all witnesses to come forward with any information they have about the case.
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.