Dutch police podcast reveals clues to decades-old homicide

An artist's interpretation of the man who was killed in 1991Picture copyright
Netherlands Police

Picture caption

A facial reconstruction of the person killed in 1991


Wrapped in an electrical blanket metres from a busy freeway within the Netherlands lay the physique of a person in such a state of decomposition he was not possible to establish.

It was August 1991 and the person’s chest bore a number of stab wounds. The native staff who discovered him advised police it was the stench that led them to his corpse.


The invention marked the start of a decades-long thriller within the Netherlands, with police unable to establish the sufferer, a lot much less discover the particular person accountable.

However the reality may now lastly be in sight after Dutch police launched their first-ever podcast geared toward fixing against the law.

True crime podcasts are nothing new, however for police within the Netherlands this was an unprecedented enterprise. Hundreds tuned in to the three-part sequence when it aired final month and tip-offs have been coming in ever since.

It started with the physique within the blanket

When police arrived on the scene, they searched the corpse for any hint of the person’s identification.

There was no ID and decomposition had rendered his physique unrecognisable.

Johan Baas had lately been appointed as a detective within the metropolis of Naarden when the physique was discovered.

“I used to be on trip depart for a number of days when my boss referred to as me and knowledgeable me concerning the discovery of the physique,” he recalled.

“It was my first main case, so the selection was clear. I went straight to the crime scene.”

Mr Baas remembers it vividly. “The physique was minisculely dissected and all the things was recorded photographically and in writing,” he mentioned.

Through the 1990s, Dutch police estimate that about 90% of all murders had been solved. However DNA know-how was nonetheless in its infancy and assets had been restricted, so the case was more durable to crack that it may be right this moment.

Massive quantities of blood or sperm had been wanted to search out an offender and there was no DNA database.

“We needed to make do with current means equivalent to fingerprints, however the sufferer’s prints didn’t seem within the Dutch database and we didn’t progress additional internationally,” mentioned the detective.

In search of clues

No witnesses got here ahead and police had no image handy out due to the situation of the corpse.

Efforts to analyse his garments bore no outcomes and the electrical blanket, produced in Germany within the 1960s, was bought by the 1000’s within the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Any hope of fixing the crime hinged on a gold ring discovered on one of many sufferer’s fingers.

Picture copyright
Netherlands Police

Detectives found that it was purchased via a mail order firm referred to as Otto and commenced monitoring down the consumers.

Most nonetheless had the ring of their possession however one man mentioned he didn’t have it anymore as a result of he had bought it to a person at a bar in Amsterdam.

Witnesses confirmed the sale and mentioned the customer went to the identical bar virtually each day.

Nonetheless, the mysterious character, believed to be Turkish, had not been seen in weeks and police by no means found who he was or if it was his physique that had been discovered.

In Johan Baas’s later investigations it was at all times clear who was the sufferer and who was the perpetrator. However police had hit a stumbling block and the case was finally dropped.

How the podcast started

Police reopened the case a few years in the past, utilizing new know-how to analyse the physique and commissioning a facial reconstruction of the sufferer.

They found that the person would have been round 65 years outdated in 1991 and got here from Jap Europe.

Picture copyright
Netherlands Police

Unable to crack the case alone, final month they opened the case to the general public for the primary time, with a podcast.

Listeners throughout the Netherlands tuned in and got here ahead every day with data which may be related to the case.

Police mentioned they may not give particulars of the tip-offs that they had obtained however a number of had contained helpful data.

“Our first purpose is to establish the sufferer and inform his relations after 28 years what occurred,” mentioned Rob Boon, coordinator of the police Chilly Case workforce who led the podcast.

“Our second purpose is to search out the killer and produce her or him to court docket,”

Can podcasts work?

Criminologist David Wilson mentioned it was pure for Dutch police to need to capitalise on the recognition of true crime podcast and cross on particulars of crimes and unsolved instances.

“True crime is extremely fashionable and the police are as conscious of this as every other particular person, group or business,” he mentioned.

However police podcasts have their limitations, as there are some areas they can’t contact, due to legal guidelines on what they’ll say in order to not prejudice any future case.

“The podcaster can recommend issues that the police won’t have the ability to recommend. They’ll increase prospects that the police would not have the ability to increase,” he added.

Even so, quite a few instances have been solved by police crime attraction programmes such because the UK’s Crimewatch and its Dutch TV equal, and Mr Wilson is assured podcasting will in all probability deliver the identical outcomes.

Johan Baas is now not on the case however the detective despatched to the crime scene in 1991 believes there’s a probability the sufferer will be recognized.

No names have emerged thus far and Mr Baas says the person’s household have to know.

“I do know what impression a loss has on these left behind. In fact you need to arrest a suspect as a detective, however sadly it by no means got here to that.”

You may additionally like: True crime podcast helps girl discover her brother’s grave

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