Prime suspect in 1998 murder of Dutch boy Nicky Verstappen arrested

Prime suspect in 1998 murder of Dutch boy Nicky Verstappen arrested

Former scout worker Jos Brech is arrested in Spain, 20 years after the brutal campsite murder that shocked the Netherlands.

The prime suspect in the killing of a Dutch schoolboy who vanished from a campsite over 20 years ago has been arrested.

Former scout worker Jos Brech, 55, was taken into custody in Spain on Sunday afternoon.

Armed Spanish police arrest Brech after a tip-off
Image:Armed Spanish police arrest Brech after a tip-off

Nicky Verstappen, 11, was at a summer camp in August 1998 when he vanished from his tent in Brunssum, the Netherlands.

His body was discovered near a Christmas tree plot just over half a mile (1km) from the campsite the following day.

He had been sexually abused before he was killed.

The schoolboy’s murder shocked the Netherlands and prompted one of the most extensive murder investigations ever in the country.

Joseph Brech left the Netherlands in 2017. Pic: Politie.nl
Image:Joseph Brech was reported missing by his family in April. Pic: Politie.nl

Brech, who is an expert in survival techniques, was previously thought to be hiding in France’s mountainous eastern Vosges region.

He was arrested after a member of the public recognised him from a media appeal earlier this month, tipping off police.

Brech will now be extradited to the Netherlands.

Nicky's father Peter Verstappen (C), his sister Femke and mother Berthie Verstappen at the press conference
Image:Nicky’s father Peter Verstappen (C), his sister Femke and mother Berthie Verstappen

Earlier this year, 16,000 men voluntarily donated DNA samples in a bid to solve the case.

While Brech did not respond to the DNA request, the testing project enabled experts to determine whether a relative of the donor was a match for DNA found on the schoolboy’s clothing.

Brech, who was 35 at the time of the murder, had been stopped by military police close to the scene of the murder a day after Nicky’s disappearance.

The monument for eleven-year-old boy Nicky Verstappen
Image:The case has captivated the Netherlands for 20 years

He was interviewed, but was not believed to be a person of interest.

After being reported missing by his family in April, police examined Brech’s home and found he is a 100% match for the DNA found on the schoolboy.

Peter R. de Vries, a journalist and spokesman for the dead boy’s family, wrote on Twitter: “We got him! Jos Brech was arrested in Spain near Barcelona! The family is very relieved. Justice will be done!”

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