Prosecutors have charged a 20-year-old man with murder over a savage knife attack on a creche in western Belgium that claimed the lives of two babies and a care worker.
The suspect was named in the Belgian media yesterday as Kim De Gelder, a 20-year-old unemployed loner who daubed his face with white paint and wore black eyeshadow before entering the creche in Dendermonde and stabbing children and staff. Prosecutors have revealed he used a 20cm-long (8 inches) knife during the attack and carried additional weapons in his backpack. They have charged the suspect, who has so far refused to co-operate during interrogation, with three counts of murder and 12 counts of attempted murder.
Two babies, aged nine months and six months, died from stab wounds in the horrific attack, which left 10 other children under the age of three with serious injuries. Care worker Marita Blindeman also died as she tried to defend the toddlers from De Gelder, who tricked his way into the “Land of Fables” creche in a town 30 kilometres from Brussels.
About 6,000 people marched silently through Dendermonde yesterday, laying bouquets of flowers and cuddly toys outside the nursery where the attack took place. Dendermonde’s mayor Piet Buyse said the nursery would never reopen. “It’s something very hard for the city, for the region . . . We are here just to show that we are all, with our hearts, with our thoughts, with our minds, with our souls, with them [the victims’ families] in grief,” he said.
The brutal murders have shocked Belgium. On Saturday De Morgen newspaper bore the headline “Cold, Bloodthirsty, Inhuman”, while the Gazet Van Antwerpen asked “Why?”.
Prosecutor Christian Du Four, who identified the suspect only as “Kim D”, said he lived alone some 20 kilometres from the scene of Friday’s attack in Dendermonde. He said the man had no previous criminal record and there is no record that he has been treated for any psychological condition. When arrested he was carrying a knife, a small axe, a fake pistol and was wearing body armour. Two more knives were found at the scene.
“We don’t know about his motive. He doesn’t say anything . . . he’s very passive,” said Mr Du Four, adding that the suspect would probably appear in court tomorrow. Local media dubbed the assailant the “Joker killer” because his face was painted white and his eyes blackened, like the criminal mastermind in the Batman films.
Read it all here.