New DNA analysis links 55-year-old man to murder of Dutch schoolboy Nicky Verstappen
A Europe-wide manhunt is under way for the suspected killer of an 11-year-old Dutch schoolboy on a campsite 20 years ago this month, after the largest DNA testing programme in the Netherlands history finally produced a 100% match.
In the latest twist to a cold case that has gripped the country since 1998, police in the southern city of Maastricht said on Thursday that more than 200 people had called in following an appeal for tips about the possible whereabouts of Jos Brech, 55, a former scout and playgroup worker.
A lot of people are calling, said police commissioner Ingrid Schfer-Poels on Thursday. We are now convinced the suspect has gone into hiding.
Described as a survival specialist capable of enduring long periods alone in the wild, Brech was last known to be in the mountainous Vosges region of eastern France, where he has a cabin, and has been placed on Europols list of the continents most wanted fugitives.
The body of Nicky Verstappen, who had been sexually assaulted before he was killed, was found on 11 August 1998 in woodland a few kilometres from the youth camp in Limburg province, where he had been reported missing the previous day.
Despite an intensive and heavily publicised manhunt at the time, no arrest was ever made. But in May last year, exploiting new DNA analysis techniques, police launched an appeal to more than 20,000 men in the region to provide samples.
Nearly 15,000 although not Brech came forward, but none of the samples matched the profile assembled in 2008 from DNA recovered from Nickys body at the time of his death, detective Ferdinand Schellinkhout told Dutch media.
Brech, who in 1998 lived with his mother 13km (eight miles) from the campsite, was questioned three times during the inquiry the first occasion just two days after the murder, when he was stopped by police while walking near the scene after midnight.