The two bright-eyed eight-year-old girls had been abducted by a ring of pedophiles, sexually abused and finally left to starve to death
in the home of one their captors. And last week, Belgium's 10 million people were united in mourning their passing. Flags flew at half-mast, a minute of silence was observed across the country, and 100,000 people lined the streets of Liège, 60 km from Brussels, for the funeral procession. Many wept, while others simply waved goodbye as two white caskets were carried to a local basilica for a service that was broadcast nationally on radio and television. “I am here for the poor parents of those martyred children," said one of the mourners, Anne-Marie Lamory. “The people who did this must be made to suffer. They too should die suffering. They are monsters.”
Belgian police believe that convicted child rapist Marc Dutroux, 39, an unemployed father of three, was the leader of the ring that abducted the two girls, Melissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, in
June, 1995. He and an accomplice, Michel Lelievre, were arrested on Aug. 16 after police rescued two other girls, one 12 and the other 14, from a concrete cell in the basement of Dutroux’s home. Police also charged his second wife, Michelle Martin, and a Brussels businessman, JeanMichel Nihoul, in connection with the crimes. All week, investigators were searching in Belgium and several other European countries for two missing teenagers, Eefje Lambrechs and An Marchai, whom
Dutroux abducted in August,
1995, and may have sold into prostitution. “We are at the moment establishing contact with police in other countries via the services of Interpol,” said Maj. Jean-Marie Boudin, who is involved in the investigation.
Besides the outpouring of national grief, the arrests led to outrage at law en-
forcement authorities for their handling of in the past. He was released from prison in 1992 after three years of a -year sentence for multiple rape and child abuse, despite objections from his own mother and the prosecutor in the case. An unemployed electrician, Dutroux is the
oldest of five children. His parents, both teachers, divorced before he was 10. Described by neighbors as quiet, with few friends, Dutroux was living with his 12year-old son from a previous marriage when police arrested him. A three-yearold son and nine-month-old daughter were staying with his second wife, who had left him because she feared his rages. “I was scared to death by him,”
was scared to death by him,” sister Valerie Dutroux told a Belgian television reporter. “It was known that he was a sick man. To me he is no longer human.”
After his arrest, Dutroux led police to the bodies of Russo and Lejeune, which were buried in the garden of a property he owned. Police also uncovered the body of Bernard Weinstein, who helped abduct the two girls for Dutroux and was paid $1,800. Dutroux admitted murdering his former associ-
ate because he had let the girls die while Dutroux was in prison for four months on a theft charge.
With Dutroux and his associates in custody, some of the questions surrounding the disappearances of four young girls cleared up. But for the families of Eefje Lambrechs and An Marchai, the two missing girls, the ordeal continued. Worst of all was the chilling theory that they and other young girls had been abducted and sold to criminals running prostitution rings. For a nation rarely touched by such gruesome crimes, the daily revelations of evil were almost too much too bear.
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