Scoutmaster suspect arrested over killing
A SUSPECT in the brutal 1998 killing of a young Dutch boy has been arrested in Spain, police said on Sunday after one of the most extensive murder investigations to date in the Netherlands.
Nicky Verstappen, 11, disappeared during the night of August 9, 1998, while at a summer camp at the Brunssumerheide nature reserve, near the German border.
His body was found the next evening, close to the camp site. He had been sexually abused before he was killed.
A police statement said the prime suspect Jos Brech had been taken into custody in Spain and would be extricated to the Netherlands.
"Jos B, 55, a suspect in the death of Nicky Verstappen was arrested in Spain on Sunday afternoon," a police statement issued in Limburg, the southern district in which the boy disappeared, said.
"He was taken into custody and will be handed over to the Netherlands."
Jos Brech, a former scout worker who is believed to be a survival expert, was reported missing in April and police had thought he was hiding in France's mountainous eastern Vosges region, where he owns a chalet.
Mr Brech was arrested "thanks to a witness who recognised him after seeing his picture in the media in recent days" investigators added, hailing the "good co-operation" with the Spanish police.
"We got him! Jos Brech was arrested in Spain near Barcelona!" journalist Peter R. de Vries, spokesman for the dead boy's family, exclaimed on Twitter.
"The family is very relieved. Justice will be done!"
Police at the time of the murder mounted a massive search closely followed by local media and the Dutch public, but the 11-year-old boy's killer was never found.
At one point investigators suspected Nicky had fallen prey to the same person behind the disappearance of British girl Maddie McCann, who vanished from her family's hotel room during a holiday in Portugal in 2007 aged three.
Previous suspect Martin Ney, a German child murderer, was linked to Madeleine McCann's case when police quizzed him in 2011.
Maddie's parents Kate and Gerry believe Ney was seen acting suspiciously near the spot she vanished from in 2007.
Earlier this year, police appealed to more than 20,000 men to donate DNA samples in a bid to close in on the perpetrator.
Police said new digital techniques helped them to develop a DNA profile in 2008, from traces found on Nicky Verstappen's clothing, but there had been no match.
However Brech, who was 35 at the time of the murder, was not among the volunteers but as he was previously interviewed as a witness, police became suspicious.
When his family reported him as missing, Dutch and French police searched his cabin in the Vosges region.
"We found traces of DNA on his personal belongings. It was a match," chief prosecutor Jan Eland claimed last week when Dutch police announced they had identified a suspect.
A European-wide warrant for Brech's arrest was issued on June 12.