Marc Dutroux [dy'tʁu] (born November 6, 1956 in Ixelles / Elsene in the Brussels region ) is a Belgian murderer and sex offender who was sentenced to life imprisonment. Up until the mid-1990s, he kidnapped and sexually abused several children and young people between the ages of 8 and 19 and murdered one of his accomplices and two young women he kidnapped, aged 17 and 19. Two kidnapped eight-year-old girls starved to death while he was in prison.
Dutroux's accomplice and then-wife Michelle Martin was sentenced to 30 years in prison and was released in 2012 after serving 16 years. Michel Lelièvre, another Dutroux accomplice, was paroled in 2019 after 23 years in prison. Bernard Weinstein, another major accomplice of Dutroux, was poisoned by him.
Because of blatant errors in the police investigation, 27 mysteriously disappeared witnesses and inconsistencies in the legal proceedings, many people suspected that Dutroux was part of a child molester ring whose backers were never punished. In 1996, 400,000 Belgians demonstrated in Brussels against the action of the authorities in the Dutroux case at the " White March ".
Origin and past life
Marc Dutroux's parents were both teachers. Dutroux has three younger brothers and one younger sister. He spent the first four years of his life in what was then the Belgian Congo until the family moved to Belgium after the former colony gained independence in 1960. Dutroux's father, Victor, often beat his wife and children over minor matters. Marc Dutroux was noticed as a thug at school when he was nine, and in later school years he sold stolen mopeds and pornographic pictures.
In 1971 Dutroux's father spent several months involuntarily in a clinic because of depression , after which he divorced his wife that same year, whom he blamed for his hospital stay. With the departure of Father Marc Dutroux took over more and more the role of a domineering, frigid family tyrant and beat his mother and siblings until several months after the divorce of his parents at the age of 16 years left home in order first as hustlers eke .
In 1976, at the age of 20, he married his first wife, who had a child from a previous marriage; the two had another child, but after a while they gave both of them to the home. After Dutroux repeatedly violated his wife, they divorced in 1983. At that time, Dutroux was already having an affair with Michelle Martin , with whom he had three children of their own; all five children have since changed their surnames.
Offenses until 1995
Dutroux was known to the police for car thefts, robberies and drug offenses; as a scrap dealer, he stole all sorts of things indiscriminately over the years that he was trying to turn into money. During the 1980s he lived a lot in the van that he drove across Belgium.
In 1984 the body of a young woman was found near Brussels, with whom Dutroux was later brought into connection, as witnesses reported from a "Marc from Charleroi" with whom the victim was known, but the case remained unsolved.
On February 4, 1986, Marc Dutroux and his partner Michelle Martin were arrested for kidnapping and abusing five young women between the ages of 12 and 19; Dutroux had made pornographic recordings of his deeds in order to sell them. This was apparently one of his motives.
On April 26, 1989, Dutroux was sentenced to 13 years and six months imprisonment, Michelle Martin to five years. In the same year the two married in prison. In 1992 Dutroux was pardoned by Melchior Wathelet , then Minister of Justice, after spending three years in prison. His mother spoke out against it in a letter to the prison director.
After Dutroux's release, the psychiatrist Emile Dumont certified him as mentally ill due to his incapacity for life, for which he received a state pension, and prescribed sleeping pills and sedatives , which he later used to numb and murder his victims.
Dutroux expanded the basement of one of his houses in the Marcinelle district of Charleroi , initially as a hiding place for his booty from theft, which he continued to undertake, and later as a dungeon. Behind a massive door that was disguised as a shelf was a 2.15 meter long, less than 1 meter wide and 1.64 meter high room.
On June 24, 1995, Melissa Russo (8) and Julie Lejeune (8) were kidnapped, held in Dutroux's cell and sexually abused several times, again for the purpose of trading in the pornography thus created. On August 22, 1995, Eefje Lambrecks (19) and An Marchal (17) were kidnapped and raped for the purpose of producing pornography. Since the two eight-year-old girls were already in the cellar dungeon, Dutroux locked Eefje and An on the first floor of the house.
Temporary arrest, murder of the women and Weinstein, starvation of the children
Dutroux was arrested again on December 6, 1995, because he was involved in car thefts again. When investigating the thefts, police also searched Dutroux's house, where the two eight-year-old girls were held. At this point Eefje and An were staying with an accomplice or had already been poisoned. The senior officer later said he heard children's voices in the basement, but assumed they were from the street, so the girls were not found.
According to Dutroux's later testimony, his wife would take care of the children while he was in prison. Michelle Martin let the children starve to death. One was already dead when Dutroux was released on March 20, 1996, and the other died in his arms according to Dutroux's testimony.
Presumably during this time the murder of his accomplice Weinstein, who had cheated on him out of money.
During the investigation there were always mishaps. As early as August 1995, a month after Mélissa and Julie had been kidnapped, investigators had a report in which Dutroux's former accomplice Claude Thirault, who was already known to the police as a stooge in Dutroux's robberies, claimed that Marc Dutroux had offered him money to kidnap young girls at a village festival. For this, he was promised 150,000 Belgian francs (around 3700 euros). Dutroux also build cells in the basement of one of his three houses.
After the disappearance of An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks, Dutroux's mother wrote a letter to the investigating judge in charge, in which she pointed out observations made by neighbors that two unknown girls had been brought into their son's house. In the letter, she expressly pointed out that there could be a connection with the missing children and asked the authorities to search the house, but this did not happen.
Despite the accused's evidence and criminal record, the Dutroux property was not searched until December 1995, months later, when Dutroux was temporarily detained for car theft. The newly drawn-in, freshly plastered wall was not noticed by the investigators in the subsequent search, despite the children's voices. The many video recordings found in the house, on which Dutroux had partly documented the expansion of the cells in his house, were not viewed by the police or generally classified as "normal".
Discovery and process
More kidnappings and arrests
On May 28, 1996, Dutroux kidnapped twelve-year-old Sabine Dardenne by dragging her into his van. This also happened to 14-year-old Laetitia Delhez on August 9th . During the police investigation, an eyewitness was found who had memorized part of Dutroux's license plate. Marc Dutroux, Michelle Martin and the accomplice Michel Lelièvre were arrested on August 13, and the suspected accomplice Michel Nihoul was arrested the following day .
A search of Dutroux 'houses was again unsuccessful, whereupon Dutroux pointed out the hidden cellar dungeon from which the police were able to free Sabine and Laetitia on August 15, 1996. On August 17, Dutroux led the investigators to the bodies of the starved eight-year-old girls and the murdered accomplice Bernard Weinstein, whom Dutroux had buried together with the girls in the garden of one of his houses. On September 3, Dutroux told the police where the bodies of An and Eefje could be found.
Dutroux claimed that he was just some kind of henchman himself. The girls were not only intended for him alone, but also for other people, some of whom would enjoy “the highest protection from above”. As the instigator and head of a gang of men who committed sexual offenses against children, for whom Dutroux worked, he repeatedly accused Nihoul after his arrest and during the trial.
In March 1997, across the street from Dutroux's house at 128 avenue de Philippeville in Charleroi-Marcinelle, a plaque was affixed with the inscription: En memoire de tous les enfants victimes de pédophilie (“In memory of all victims of pedophilia”).
Escape and arrest again
Another serious mishap occurred in April 1998: Dutroux snatched the weapon from one of his guards in a courthouse and fled. After thousands of officers had been on a large-scale operation for almost four hours, sniffer dogs found him in a forest. In response to this incident, Interior Minister Johan Vande Lanotte , Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck and Police Chief Willy Deridder resigned from their posts. Shortly after the arrest, Dutroux told an officer: "I am happy when I see the chaos into which I have plunged Belgium."
Theories about the background to the deeds
According to the ZDF report The Trace of Child Molesters - Dutroux and the Dead Witnesses from 2001, 27 witnesses died between Dutroux's arrest and the trial under partly mysterious circumstances, including several investigators who were entrusted with the case and other people who wanted to testify against Dutroux. The prosecutor Hubert Massa, chief prosecutor in the Dutroux trial, committed suicide in July 1999 suicide ; the day before he had allegedly been given extensive powers of attorney by the Belgian Minister of Justice. He did not leave a suicide note or other clues as to the reason for his suicide; a comprehensible motive could not be determined. An autopsy was not carried out.
The entanglements led to various theories that Dutroux should by no means have been a lone perpetrator, but rather acted on behalf of a pedophile network, which had connections with the highest Belgian government circles and systematically prevented a full investigation of the case. The Belgian Anneke Lucas claimed in January 2017 that she had been tortured as early as 1974 by a man who later became a co-defendant in the Dutroux trial, and confirmed the alleged network's links with top officials and cabinet members. People involved in the investigation of the case also confirmed that investigations had been hindered and that the case had not yet been fully resolved.
The trial of Marc Dutroux in Arlon Court began on March 1, 2004 with the selection of the jury. Almost 400,000 pages accumulated in the files of the case. In addition to Dutroux himself, his wife Michelle Martin and his accomplices Michel Lelièvre and Michel Nihoul were also indicted. Martin in particular repeatedly became involved in contradictions during the trial. In addition to the above-mentioned acts, Dutroux was also charged with kidnapping and torturing police informants Philippe Divers, Pierre Rochow and Bénédicte Jadot in 1995, raping three Slovak women in 1996, and for repeated extensive drug trafficking, especially with hashish and heroin .
The first investigating magistrate was Jean-Marc Connerotte, who shortly after the arrest of Dutroux asked all Belgians to share everything they knew about relevant crimes against children. When he invited the two freed girls Laetitia and Sabine to dinner, he was deposed because of bias (which was subsequently referred to as "spaghetti arrest"). The request had produced an avalanche of information for investigators. Outrage broke out among the people at the dismantling of Connerotte. Over 300,000 people then marched through Brussels on the White March . Jacques Langlois became the new examining magistrate.
During his detention and trial, Dutroux repeatedly smeared his cell with feces, deliberately hit his head against the cell wall, failed to respond to salutations during the negotiations, and continued to accuse Nihoul of having been his employer. However, he expressed himself nervously and contradictingly when asked about his wife.
Disappearances and deaths of witnesses in the process
|Name of the witness / participant||Connection to the case||Time of death||Cause of death|
|Alexandre Gosselin||Had sold his house (rue Daubresse 63-65, Jumet) to Bernard Weinstein (accomplice of Dutroux). Then he continued to live in a wooden house on the property. The bodies of victims were later found on this property. Gosselin told his son that he was afraid of Weinstein and that he had tried to poison his dog. After that he would have slept under the bed only with a gun. Weinstein had repeatedly tried to buy the wooden house in order to be undisturbed on the property.||July 4th, 1995, 4 days after the kidnapping of Julie and Melissa, in November 1995 Dutroux and Weinstein kidnapped and anesthetized three young people on the property, in 1997 the house burned down after an arson attack||Natural death after pain in the abdominal area|
|Guy Goebels||Policeman who worked on the case||08/25/1995||Headshot suicide|
|Bernard Weinstein||Dutroux's accomplice||November 1995||poisoned by Dutroux|
|Bruno Tagliaferro||Dutroux acquaintance and scrap dealer. Acquaintances of his said that he was blackmailed and forced to commit crimes. His wife said that before he died he told her that he would soon die "because he knew too much". His wife told a friend that her husband had removed a car that had kidnapped two girls.||11/5/1995||was poisoned (first declared as suicide, after autopsy as poisoning)|
|Jean Paul-Taminiau||rented a garage across from a Dutroux estate||04/02/1995 (After telling a friend that he had important information about the Dutroux case)||His foot was found in a river. His body was never found.|
|Francois Reyskens||Was part of the drug and criminal scene. Told his father that he wanted to talk to him about the abduction of Melissa.||07/26/1995 (Before he was supposed to testify to the police about the kidnapping of Melissa. At that time the public did not know about the kidnapping.)||Accident (fell in front of a train)|
|Simon Poncelet||Police officer investigating a car smuggling ring around Dutroux||02/21/1996||Was shot while on a night shift in his office|
|Michel Piro||Night club owner, part of the Charleroi red light district||December 5, 1996 (contacted Julie and Melissa's families 3 months after Dutroux was arrested)||Shot in a parking lot|
|Joseph Toussaint||Confessor of Michelle Martin||5.03.1997||Heart attack|
|Christiaan Coenrads||Prison inmate who was supposed to testify about Dutroux. Managed to escape. Died a month after escaping.||March 7, 1997|
|José Steppe||Well connected person in Charleroi said he had important information about Dutroux||04/25/1997 Two days before he was supposed to testify to the police||Fell over dead ( Rohypnol - an anesthetic was found in his asthma device)|
|Gérard Vannesse||Policeman who worked on the case||11/16/1997|
|Brigitte Genard||Dentist and friend of Michel Nihoul||04/05/1998||Suicide|
|Anna Konjevoda||Contacted the police about a Dutroux porn ring that had links to Eastern Europe.||Was found on April 7th, 1998 in the Meuse||Corpse showed signs of physical harm and choking. Was found in the Meuse .|
|Gina Pardaens||Social worker who took care of victims of a child porno ring. She told friends that she saw a girl was murdered on a porn movie. She is said to have recognized an acquaintance of Nihoul on the video. She contacted the police because she was threatened with death. She was told she was going to be in a car accident.||11/15/1998||Car accident (80 km / h against a bridge railing)|
|Fabienne Jaupart||Wife of Bruno Tagliaferro||12/18/1998- After she said she found important documents of her husband and asked the police for protection.||Suicide (Burned on her bed after methanol was distributed in bedroom and set on fire.)|
|Hubert Massa||Attorney General in the Dutroux case||7/13/1999-One month after he started working on the case||suicide|
|Grégory Antipine||Police officer investigating the case||08/15/1999||Suicide by hanging|
|Sandra Claeys||Lièvre's ex-girlfriend said she overheard him and Dutroux when they talked about "how they could make a lot of money".||11/4/1999||suicide|
|Jean-Jacques Feront||Pedophile hunter||1.03.2001||Heart attack|
|Nadège Renard||Friends of Dutroux||Wanted to give the police a list of contacts from Dutroux in April 2001||car accident|
|Bernard Routmond||Film producer and distributor of pornographic films was accused of kidnapping a girl. The police found children's toys in his home.||The day after he reported to the police to testify on the Dutroux case.||car accident|
|Marie-Louise Henrotte||Elderly woman who saw Julie and Melissa get into a "dark four door car" in front of their house (only direct witness to the kidnapping)||Was inconclusive because of dementia|
|Christoph Vanhexe||Investigative journalist in the Dutroux case||car accident|
|Pierre-Paul "Pepe" De Rycke||Friend of Michel Nihoul, owner of the Jonathan Bar, part of the red light district, pimp||05/17/2001||suicide|
|Philippe Deleuze||Lawyer and acquaintance of Michel Nihoul||11/15/2001||unknown|
A final psychiatric report was drawn up by three psychiatrists and one psychologist who appeared on May 5, 2004 as witnesses before the jury. They came to the conclusion that Dutroux should not be classified as a pedophile , rather he was a violent, numb psychopath who acted out of a desire for power and greed for money and was fully guilty.
The defendant's striving for power was also expressed in a self-seeking demeanor that he has shown since his arrest. So he told stories of smaller or larger "networks". Chief investigator Michel had testified before the jury: "He was happy about the social excitement that caused his affair." Dutroux had also repeatedly boasted in front of his experts of his kidnapping and rape acts in the 1990s. In his three-hour closing words, Dutroux appeared “harsh and accusatory, insulted and scornful and self-righteous”, presenting a confused “web of lies, half-truths and manipulations”.
On June 22, 2004, the court announced the sentence: Dutroux was sentenced to life in prison for three poisonings - of his accomplice Weinstein and the two young women he kidnapped, Eefje Lambrecks and An Marchal. The week before, the jury had ruled that Dutroux had kidnapped and killed the two youths. Despite repeated appeals from his defense lawyer, Dutroux, whose sexual offenses were of minor importance compared to the three murders in the negotiations, continued to remain silent about the alleged backers of his acts from political circles, although he had been in the eight years from his confession to his last The 21-page statement read out in court kept talking about being part of a larger network.
Dutroux's ex-wife Michelle Martin received 30 years in prison for the negligent homicide of the girls Russo and Lejeune by starvation.
Michel Lelièvre was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his involvement in the crimes. Michel Nihoul received a five-year prison sentence for being the leader of a drug and human trafficking ring. He was acquitted of the charge of participating in the kidnapping of women and children.
Reception and consequences
Representation in the media
The media at home and abroad portrayed Dutroux mainly as a pedophile , although the age of his female victims already calls into question a pedophile motive (cf. sex-medicine definition ): Melissa and Julie were 8 years old, An 17 years, Eefje 19 years; the most recently kidnapped and freed girls were 12 and 14 years old.
Inside and outside the country, Belgium was quickly declared the “land of child molesters ” in the media because of the Dutroux case . For example, the Belgian police officer Patrick Debaets said of his investigation into the case: “As soon as you want to take action against pedophilia, you come across a system of protection and immediately get into trouble. In Belgium, most of the press made the victims and investigators ridiculous and implausible in order to avoid problems themselves. "
Many citizens became suspicious of the state over time. They believed that the country's rich and powerful are covered, while the state, judiciary and police do not know how to protect ordinary people. When the Dutroux case came public in the summer of 1996, there were 62 people with that family name in Belgium. By early 1998, 22 of them had applied to the authorities to change their surnames.
Events since 2009
Becoming aware of the pedophile tendencies of a lawyer for the victims' families
Conviction for child pornography
In October 2010, Victor Hissel, lawyer for the families of the victims of Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, was sentenced by a court in Liege to ten months in prison for child pornography without parole. The lawyer had viewed more than 7,500 child pornographic images between 2005 and 2008. The fact that the prominent lawyer, who fought to convict Dutroux and had become a symbol of the fight against the inability of the police and judicial authorities, himself had pedophile inclinations shocked many Belgians. Hissel appealed against the judgment calling a. On appeal in May 2011, the court upheld the sentence, but the sentence was suspended.
Attempted murder by the attorney's son
After the pedophile tendencies of the lawyer Victor Hissel became known, his son Romain tried in April 2009 to kill his father; he stabbed him several times with a knife and injured him badly. In court he declared that he wanted to kill his father so that he would not do what he had suffered to his new partner's children: verbal and physical violence and the discovery of the father's pedophile tendencies. Romain Hissel was acquitted of the allegation of attempted murder in May 2011. The court found that he was insane at the time of the crime . A year later, in May 2012, he was sentenced to two years probation in prison for several attempted carjackings and threats of violence.
Michelle Martin released from prison
At the end of July 2012, the Belgian judiciary decided to release Michelle Martin on parole and conditionally for good conduct. The Belgian judiciary approved a rehabilitation plan for Michelle Martin's admission to a convent in Belgium. Martin is also not allowed to approach the victims' families. The public prosecutor's office and some relatives of Dutroux victims appealed the decision to the Court of Cassation in Brussels. On August 28, 2012, the court rejected the objections as unfounded, stating that there were no procedural errors on the part of the criminal enforcement court. Michelle Martin was released the same day and found herself in the Poor Clare Monastery in Malonne near Namur . At the end of 2014 she was allowed to leave the monastery.
Application for early release of Marc Dutroux
An application by Dutroux for early release and serving the sentence with an electronic ankle bracelet was rejected by a Brussels court on February 18, 2013. This was justified with the risk that the now 62-year-old could relapse again. Dutroux's mother had also publicly warned against her son's release.
On October 28, 2019, the competent criminal prosecution court in Brussels approved the preparation of a new psychiatric report in response to a request from Dutroux's lawyers. The report is intended to clarify whether Dutroux has changed or whether it continues to pose a threat to society. Depending on the content of the report, the lawyers want to apply for the conditions of detention to be eased or to seek his release.
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|BRIEF DESCRIPTION||Belgian serial killer|
|DATE OF BIRTH||November 6, 1956|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Ixelles / Elsene , Brussels, Belgium|