On August 15, 1996, policeman Michel Demoulin released 12-year-old Sabine Dardenne and 14-year-old Letitia Delhees from Marc Dutrou’s hidden basement in Marcinelle. Belgium will never be the same then.
Dutros suddenly pulled that shelf from the wall with all his might, in the basement of his house in Marcinelle. There was a space hidden behind him. I didn’t know what I saw. It was really incredible. I still can’t find the right words to describe my feelings at the time. Then I heard girls’ voices coming from that hole behind the shelf. “Don’t worry, I’m here with the gendarmerie,” said Dutro. “Is that really true, sir?” A voice from that cave answered. “Can we go home then?” “Yes, yes, no problem,” replied Dutroux. Sabine and Letitia – for they were – reassured. Then I pulled Sabine out of that basement. Laetitia followed. Sabine held me. Then I asked Dutro, “Sir, sir, may I have the pencils?” He said, “Yes.” “Definitely.” She replied, “Thank you, sir.” She kissed him on the cheek and said, “Thank you, sir.” Then I took her in my arms and we went upstairs. Get away from there.
When Michel Demoulin took Sabine Dardeen and Letitia Delhees out of the cage at Dutro’s home on August 15, 1996, Darden was imprisoned there for two and a half months, and Delhees for seven days. It’s now 25 years, but for Demoulin it feels like it was yesterday. It would have been a very sweet memory, but unfortunately it was overshadowed by the fact that we found Julie, Melissa, Ann and Evji dead in the following days.
Michel Demoulin. Christophe Fadino
Michel Demoulin. Christophe Fadino
Since 2017, Demolin (62 years old) has retired as a commissioner in the Federal Police. “Dutro’s case was the biggest in my career as a police officer,” he says. The nature of the criminal business was new, and the style of action was different from what we knew. The case came as a complete surprise to the police. We didn’t know such a thing could exist. On a personal level, it was one of the most important moments in my life. These pictures will never leave my head.
When Laetitia Delhez disappeared into the Bertrex pool on Friday August 9, 1996, Michel Demoulin was on duty in the then-gendarmerie in Marche-en-Famenne. He took the shift from a colleague who was on vacation. In the evening I received a phone call stating that there had been a disturbing disappearance in Bertrix. Colleagues at Neufchâteau asked if I could help review some tips. Then I called a colleague to come with me. He asked “How long will it take?” I replied, “About three or four hours.” But it’s been eight years. Until the trial.
It took until Monday, August 12, before the two golden scripts appeared that would turn the entire country upside down. Sister Etienne, 71, whose maiden name is Madeleine Aubry, said she saw a white truck near the Bertrex pool several times on August 9. According to the nun, there were stickers on the back window of the truck and a broken exhaust made a lot of noise. Benoît Tinant, 22, a student who lived near the pool, was more accurate. Remember the white van and part of the license plate. “It was a white Renault Trafic with an FRR number plate and then a 69 and a 2 or 7,” Tennant said.
Cell Disappearances investigators immediately played the Renault branding and the letters FRR from the number plate through the police computer. One name appeared: Marc Dutro, a convicted rapist from Marcinel. Early in the morning on August 13, Dutro, his wife Michelle Martin and Michelle Leliver, were arrested by a specialized arrest team. On the same day, other police officers immediately searched Dutro’s home in Marcinelle and all his other possessions. The great resources were deployed: sniffer dogs arrived at the scene and the scientific police searched for traces. But no one found the cage hidden and the girls inside. Sabine Laetitia heard the officers’ noise, but they remained silent, as Dutro taught them.