Charleroi, Hainaut – BELGIUM.
Marc Dutroux became known as “The Monster of Belgium,” a psychopath who preyed on young females. His arrest would shock Belgium society, resulting in the largest protest the country had ever witnessed, almost overthrowing the Government. Failures by the justice system allowed Dutroux to leave behind a trail of bodies and shattered lives.
Lead up to Crime
Marc Dutroux grew up with a domineering mother and abusive father, experiencing a loveless childhood with many violent beatings. His parents were both school teachers who displayed egotistical traits, which were passed on to their son. After their separation in 1971, Marc Dutroux left home at 15 and grew into a petty criminal and a teenage prostitute, surviving by servicing older men. Dutroux established a long criminal history: involving stolen luxury cars, muggings, and drug dealing. The unemployed electrician amassed seven houses through the proceeds of crime and benefit fraud.
In 1986 Dutroux and Michelle Martin, school teacher, were convicted for the abduction and rape of five girls. In 1989 Dutroux was sentenced to 13 years for his crimes. Martin received a sentence of five years.
Michelle Martin was Dutroux’s mistress, their affair causing the breakup of his marriage from his first wife, which separated him from his two children. Dutroux married Martin in a prison ceremony in 1989, and they went on to have three children together. Belgium police described Michelle Martin as a masochistic woman, who never turned away from her husband’s crimes.
Dutroux was released in 1992, after serving only three years. During his parole Dutroux continued to commit further offences. His houses were left mostly unoccupied, and he constructed two dungeons at different locations so he could resume his sadistic crime spree. The parole board would receive a letter, penned by Dutroux’s mother, warning authorities that she believed her son was holding young girls captive in the basement of one of his houses. The letter was ignored.
Mélissa Russo and Julie Lejeune
On June 24, 1995, two eight-year-old girls, Mélissa Russo and Julie Lejeune, were kidnapped in Grâce-Hollogne, 90 kilometres (56 miles) northeast of Charleroi, Belgium. The pair was held in the house owned by Dutroux and Martin, at Route de Philippeville 128, in the Charleroi suburb of Marcinelle. The girls were repeatedly raped and tortured, their abuse recorded on video.
An Marchal and Eefje Lambrecks
On August 22, 1995, An Marchal, 17, and Eefje Lambrecks, 19, were holidaying with friends in Blankenberge on the Belgium coast, 163 kilometres (100 miles) northwest of Charleroi. For An it was her first time away without her parents and a step towards adult independence. The pair went missing after participating in a hypnotist show at Casino Blankenberge, kidnapped by Dutroux and his accomplice Michel Lelièvre.
On May 28, 1996, Sabine Dardenne, 12, was riding to school when she was pulled into a van and kidnapped by Dutroux. His accomplice, homeless heroin addict, Michel Lelièvre, assisted him.
Sabine was driven to the house in the decaying industrial heartland of Charleroi, and carried inside in a metal trunk. She was drugged, had a collar fixed around her neck, and was chained to a bed in an upstairs room. Dutroux told Sabine her parents had refused to pay her ransom, and it was his duty to kill her. Instead, he claimed, he was now protecting her and keeping her alive. In return for his protection, he told Sabine, she must provide him with favours. He repeatedly raped her.
On August 9, 1996, Laetitia Delhez, 14, was abducted after leaving a swimming pool. She was dragged into a white van. A local resident recorded details of the van and the number plate. It belonged to Marc Dutroux.
Sabine had been held for 72 days, and when Dutroux delivered Laetitia, he said to her, “Look what I’ve done for you.” He followed her request that he bring her a friend.
Laetitia was imprisoned in the basement with Sabine, where Dutroux would abuse both girls while he filmed the assaults.