Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marc Dutroux, A Pedophile and Child-Killer

See No Evil, Hear No Evil...

Marc Dutroux mugshot
Marc Dutroux mugshot

Throughout history, the people of the largest city in the Wallonian province of Belgium, known as Charleroi, had been forced to engage in countless struggles against French domination in order to preserve their way of life. Recently, the people of Charleroi and its surrounding towns have been faced with a new enemy. Marc Dutroux, a convicted pedophile, murderer and supposed leader of an international child pornography and prostitution ring, terrorized the city with his shocking crimes, between the mid 1980's and late 1990's. The Dutroux case gained worldwide attention, not only because of the horrific nature of his crimes, but also the gross negligence and amateurism of police and government officials involved in the investigation. The Dutroux case caused such upset amongst Belgium's citizens, that it prompted one of the largest peacetime demonstrations since World War II and a shake-up of the Belgian government, causing the resignation and dismissal of several government officials.

The father of three children and working on his second marriage, Dutroux had little difficulty providing financially for his family. Although Dutroux was an unemployed electrician earning welfare from the state, he managed financially by trading stolen cars in Poland and Slovakia, and selling young girls into prostitution throughout Europe. Dutroux owned seven houses in Belgium, most of which stood vacant, except for those houses in which he kept the girls he kidnapped, to be later sold into prostitution or for use in pornography videos.

Belgium, with Brussels and the town of Charleroi
Belgium, with Brussels and the town
of Charleroi

Dutroux was convicted earlier in 1989 for the rape and abuse of five young girls. During the time Dutroux was serving his sentence, Justice Minister Wathelet allowed the early release of many of Belgium's sex offenders. Although he was sentenced to 13 years in prison, Dutroux served only three years before being released for good behavior in 1992. It would be another four years before the Belgian Cabinet would finally approve of tightening the laws again, making it more difficult for sex offenders to be released from prison.

Shortly after Dutroux's release from jail, young girls began to disappear around some of the neighborhoods where Dutroux owned houses. Police, during two different occasions, searched the Charleroi house owned by Dutroux. However, the police failed to search the house thoroughly. Hidden in a secret dungeon in the basement were two teenage girls hoping to be found. CNN reported some years later that during the time of the investigation into the missing girls, vital facts concerning the disappearances were kept from other police investigators. Moreover, during a high point in the investigation, a magistrate working on the case had forgotten to tell her replacement that children were even missing.

Other instances of police incompetence occurred between 1993 and 1996. Police ignored a tip from a Dutroux informant in 1993, in which he stated that Dutroux offered him between $3,000 and $5,000 to kidnap young girls. In 1995, Dutroux's own mother wrote to prosecutors reporting that she had knowledge that her son had been keeping young girls in one of his unoccupied houses. The same man who tipped off police to Dutroux's offer of money to kidnap young girls, later told police in 1995 that he had learned that Dutroux was building a dungeon to keep girls in that he would later sell into prostitution. Again, these vital clues into the disappearances of the missing girls were ignored. It would be another year before police would finally pay attention to what the informants had been telling them all along. During that valuable time, in which nothing was done to further investigate the leads on Dutroux, other girls disappeared.

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