City mourns as man admits killing wife, daughters
22 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — The 31-year-old Zoetermeer woman and her daughters, aged five and three, who were reported missing on 11 April were murdered.
22 April 2005
AMSTERDAM — The 31-year-old Zoetermeer woman and her daughters, aged five and three, who were reported missing on 11 April were murdered.
The woman's husband has confessed to police that he killed his family on 6 April, the public prosecutor's office (OM) in The Hague said at a press conference on Friday night.
The buried bodies of the three victims were found on Friday afternoon, but police have refused to reveal where the bodies were found. The bodies were nevertheless not found in Zoetermeer and the man transported them in his car.
The man has told police how he killed his wife and daughters, but in the interests of the investigation police are refusing to identify the manner of death.
The motive for the killing is not yet known.
Claudia H. and her daughters Marieke and Charlotte were reported missing by her husband last week. Despite intensive questioning by police, the man was not initially considered a suspect.
The man, Richard H., said at the time he last saw his family at 7.30am on 11 April when he left for work. But if his confession is correct, it would appear the woman and children were dead almost a week before he reported them missing to police.
When police discovered that his alibi and certain facets of his statement did not pan out, a forensics search of his house was carried out on Thursday.
Detectives found traces of blood in the bedrooms, in the boot of the car and where the car was parked at the family home. Police arrested the man on the same day.
A prosecution spokesperson stressed that the family was not known to have had problems. "To the eye it appeared to be a normal family."
Residents gathered on Friday night with their children in a playground behind the victims' home. Reactions of incomprehension were common and tea candles, flowers and soft toys were placed at the sealed front door of the house.
Police informed residents about the murders at a closed meeting at the main police station in Zoetermeer on Friday night. Emotional reactions were reported.
City Mayor Jan Waaijer was visibly upset by the tragedy: "It tears your heart. Three lives that were brutally and prematurely ended".
And Zoetermeer was also the scene of a family tragedy in January.
The murdered Marieke went to the same Catholic primary school De Spelevaert as a six-year-old girl who was killed, along with her three-year-old brother, by their mother at the start of this year. The woman then committed suicide by jumping in front of a train.
A note on the school door on Friday night said: "It is impossible to grasp that we are affected for a second time this year by such a tragedy".
The pupils of the school will be officially gathered together and offered care on Monday. They will receive professional counselling from victim assistance workers.
The Zoetermeer tragedy is the second family murder within two weeks, after a police officer in Hilversum shot and killed his wife, three sons and himself on 15 April. The family will be buried on Saturday.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news