Kidnapped Belgian boy found dead in Zeeland
A four-year-old child who was kidnapped in Belgium last week was found dead in Zeeland, police in the Netherlands confirmed on Monday night. Dean Verberckmoes was last with his family on Wednesday, and was reportedly abducted by his babysitter, Dave De K., on Friday, the boy’s mother said.
De K., a 34-year-old Belgian man was taken into police custody in Meerkerk, Utrecht earlier in the day. Soon after his arrest, Dutch police issued an Amber Alert for the young boy.
Police later reported his body was found on Neeltje Jans near the Vrouwenpolder, about midway through the Oosterscheldekering. “The police investigation revealed a possible crime scene on Monday evening,” police said in a statement. “The police helicopter was also deployed to get a clear picture of the area. Around 10 p.m. they came across a child's lifeless body.”
On Twitter, police in Zeeland said, “We thank everyone for the help and our condolences go out to the family.”
De K. was convicted in 2010 and sentenced to ten years in prison for acts of child abuse that caused the death of a two-year-old, prosecutors in Belgium told news agency Belga. The time he spent in detention leading up to his conviction was taken into account. “The person concerned served his sentence, and the sentence came to an end in December 2018,” the prosecution service said.
Verberckmoes’s mother, Elke, was unable to care for the child due to a medical issue on Wednesday, and asked a girlfriend and De K. to take care of Dean for one night. The child had stayed with the couple before without issue, and was excited to visit them again, his mother told local media outlets.
They were supposed to drop Dean off on Thursday at a grandparent’s house, but instead decided to keep the child in their home for another night, Verberckmoes told Belgian media. The following day, she said that De K. had a fight with his partner and left with the child by car. The mother and De K. were in contact on Saturday afternoon, but then he stopped returning her phone calls. A police bulletin was issued on Sunday, and Dutch authorities became involved on Monday.
Police said they believed the two were somewhere in the south of the Netherlands. The man's car, a gray Peugeot, was then found at a commercial property in Gorinchem, Zuid-Holland. He was arrested in Meerkerk later in the day.