Belgium hasn't had many horrifying serial killers in its history, but easily one of the most terrifying is Marc Dutroux. During the 1980s and '90s, Dutroux sexually assaulted and tortured multiple underage girls, and murdered at least five people. Despite an initial arrest and prison term for sexual assault, once he was released from prison he was back at his old tricks, driving a literal white van around in which to kidnap his victims. He abducted and confined his victims in specially built dungeons on his various properties, often leaving them to starve. This is horrifying, but perhaps more horrifying is the way his case was handled by police, officials, and even the courts. During his trial, it came to light that serial killer Marc Dutroux might be part of a bigger pedophile ring, which has yet to be completely brought to justice.
Belgium's response to these crimes and flubs by authorities was to be completely outraged. There were demonstrations, changes in law enforcement, and even now there are investigations into the circumstances of the way he was watched and arrested. His living victims have even spoken out about the horrible things done by him and others.
Please keep in mind that the crimes of this Belgian serial killer are downright stomach-churning. The details are uncomfortable at the least, and horrifying at the worst. Please be aware of this, and read at your own risk.
In August 2018, Dutroux's lawyer, Bruno Dayez, wrote letters to the six families of Dutroux's victims in an effort to "heal their wounds, in some very modest way." Several of the families did not buy it, believing Dayez was more concerned with securing parole for his client than any actual restorative justice.
Julie Lejeune's father, Jean-Denis Lejeune, shared the letter on Facebook. The letter explains that Dutroux was "ready to provide answers if you wanted to pose questions."
Jean Lambreaks, father of Eefje, immediately voiced his repulsion, saying, the letter was a "big publicity stunt from a lawyer with lots of time and few clients."
"After 23 years, it's time this circus just stops. We're not getting involved," Paul Marchal, An's father, said in a segment on Belgian TV.
Marc Dutroux had a history of trouble with the law. In 1979, he was convicted for theft, muggings, drug dealing, and working with stolen cars. While this gave him a small jail term, it also managed to get him a small fortune, which allowed him to buy multiple houses in which to later imprison his victims.
However, in 1989, he was convicted of a much steeper crime. Michele Martin, his then-wife, and he were both convicted of abducting and raping five girls. The pair had worked together to capture the girls, and while none of them had been killed, many had been repeatedly violated. Dutroux was given a 13 1/2-year sentence, and Martin was given a four-year sentence.
Unfortunately for the world at large, both would be out of prison long before the term limits, and they'd both go back to committing heinous crimes.
During his time in prison, Martin hatched a plan. He wanted to kidnap many girls, then create an underground city in a mine shaft where he would live with them. He later described the underground city as a sort of utopia, where harmony and safety would reign supreme.
He wanted to make sure that the girls would always have companions and be "safe" from a pedophile ring that would force them into sex work. He wanted to be the only one to own the girls he abducted.
His first arrest, for five abductions and rapes, which he committed with the help of his wife, was unfortunately not enough to keep him behind bars for long. He'd previously had convictions for minor crimes, but for some reason, he was still recognized for good behavior while incarcerated, and they decided to release him.
He was let go in 1992, after only serving three years of his sentence. Three years after that, he abducted Julie Lejeune and Mélissa Russo.