Donny M. formally suspected of murder in Amber Alert case; Remanded into custody
The suspect arrested for the kidnapping of nine-year-old Gino van der Straeten is now also formally suspected of murder. Authorities have not officially released details about the manner in which Van der Straeten was killed. The new accusation against Donny M., a 22-year-old man from Geleen, was revealed during his arraignment hearing in Maastricht on Tuesday afternoon.
The magistrate in charge of the hearing extended the suspect’s pre-trial detention by an additional 14 days, the maximum allowed. That period may be extended at the next hearing later in June. The magistrate also ordered M. to undergo a psychiatric examination at the Pieter Baan Centre, a psychiatric observation clinic in Almere.
Van der Straeten visited a playground and football field down the street from his older sister’s home in Kerkrade on Wednesday evening. When the boy did not return at 7:30 p.m., they began searching for him. Volunteers joined the family, and looked for him until 5 a.m. the following day, when his sister spoke extensively with police. Authorities distributed an Amber Alert later that day.
Police and volunteers continued to search for Van der Straeten in the Kerkrade area. This was expanded after a child’s scooter resembling one the boy was using was found in Landgraaf.
The investigation continued, and police began to focus on M., though it has not been revealed why they decided to take a closer look at him. Authorities arrived at M.’s apartment in Geleen during the early morning hours on Saturday and arrested him. Police said that M. then provided them with information leading to Van der Straeten’s body, which was found in the neighborhood of M.’s home, about 30 kilometers away from where the boy disappeared.
M. was previously convicted of threatening and assaulting two other boys, and sexually abusing at least one of them. Those crimes took place when M. was 17 years of age. In its verdict, the court said M. was a “seriously damaged young man” who was “neglected and seriously failed” as a child, and who “has already experienced many drastic life events.”
He was also reportedly diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, reactive attachment disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The court said there was a “moderate” risk that M. would commit similar crimes again. Experts and M.’s foster parents said that he does not learn from discipline, and that he must be supervised at all times, AD reported.