There are some people who can’t wait to blab the things you’ve said to them in confidence right from the moment you say them. Then again, there are others that can hold on to a secret for decades without saying a thing.
This is a story about a mysterious disappearance and the strange and cryptic circumstances that kept it from being solved for nearly two decades. It’s also a story about a young man whose own guilt and suspicion could only be held in check for so long…
Nicole was born on July 4, 1980 in Erkelenz, Germany. Her mother Angelika Tegtmeier had given birth to her after a one-time rendezvous with a married man. When Nicole was two-years-old, Angelika met and married Dutch singer Ad van den Hurk. A few years later and Ad became Nicole’s legally recognized father.
Difficult Times Ahead
But Angelika it seemed, wasn’t one for marriage and in 1989, she and her new husband divorced. Surprisingly, Ad won custody of Nicole and began raising her as his own. As it turned out, that was a very good thing, because six years later, Angelika Tegtmeier committed suicide…
Nicole didn’t always stay with her stepfather though. As a singer, Ad was often on the road and she would have to stay with her grandmother in the Netherlands. She was fifteen and was just getting over the news that her mother had committed suicide, so it wasn’t exactly a happy time in her life.
Nicole had gotten a holiday job working at a bakery in the Woensel shopping center in nearby Eindhoven, in the Dutch province of North Brabant. It was Friday, October 6, 1995 and Nicole had just left her grandmother’s at around 5:15 pm to pick up a 6 o’clock shift at the bakery. She left on her bike…but she never arrived…
Found her Bike
About a day later, the police located Nicole’s bike in the river Dommel. They began a full investigation of the river and the surrounding forest but could find no sign of her. It wasn’t till nearly two weeks later that they found her rucksack, which she’d had on her the night she left, near Eindhoven’s canal.
Not a Runaway
Meanwhile, Nicole’s grandmother and stepfather were beside themselves with worry. Initially, the police had treated the missing girl as a runaway, but both of her guardians vehemently denied the hypothesis that she’d run away to Germany to see her extended family. But if she wasn’t in Germany, where was she?
Laid to Rest
More than a month later, on November 22, 1995, a driver spotted what looked like a body in the woods on the side of the road between the towns of Mierlo and Lierop. It was the body of Nicole Van Den Hurk. Her funeral was held on November 28th and was attended by a thousand mourners, most of which had come out after hearing of her disappearance on the news.
Cause of Death
The Openbaar Ministerie, that is to say the office of Public Prosecution in that area, believed that Nicole’s cause of death was most likely the result of a stab wound which caused internal bleeding. Unfortunately, Nicole’s family was so determined to have her buried fast that a proper autopsy couldn’t be performed. As such, finding her killer was going to be a challenge…
Too Many Tips
The initial search for the missing girl had garnered so much media attention that the police received around 300 tips in a short amount of time: and they kept coming even after her body was found. After her funeral, an anonymous caller told police that he could identify the killer, but then ended the call. Police tried to broadcast the call over the media in an effort to find him, but to no avail.
As time wore on, the previously ample team of detectives was reduced to four. In February of 1996, a friend of the Van den Hurk family was arrested for drug trafficking. While in police custody, he told the police that Nicole had been involved somehow and that she had been forced to smuggle heroin by men involved in the killing…
Unfortunately, the man’s story held no water and the police tried to go down other avenues. Next, in May and June of that year, Nicole’s stepfather Ad and her step brother Andy, were both arrested in connection with the killing. They were obvious suspects due to their close connection to the deceased, but even they too were eventually cleared.
Then in 2004, nearly a decade after she was murdered, a cold case team investigated the killing again. Once again, they came up empty. Six years later in 2011, Andy van den Hurk confessed on Facebook that he was the one who had killed Nicole. He had been living in England at the time and was quickly arrested by British Police and extradited to the Netherlands…
Oddly enough, Andy was then released five days later. The police didn’t have anything but the Facebook post to tie him to the crime. It would be another five years before he publicly admitted that he had falsely confessed in order to get revive attention on the case and force the police to exhume Nicole’s body for DNA testing.
Despite the outright idiocy of his admission, Andy’s plan had worked. In September 2011, Nicole’s remains were exhumed and a number of DNA samples were obtained. Within the week, the Dutch police had announced that foreign DNA had been found on Nicole’s remains. Unfortunately, the same week brought a significant uptick in the reward and in new tips about the girl’s killer…
In January 2014, the police found a match at last. They arrested a 46-year-old man named Jos de G. Not only did he have a record, having been convicted of three rapes and sentenced to three years preventive detention and compulsory treatment, but his DNA wasn’t just found on Nicole, but at the crime scene itself.
The case came to court fairly quickly and the Defense attorney was right there with a rather flimsy argument against why Jos De G could have been the main suspect. He openly disputed the DNA evidence, saying that there was also DNA found on Nicole from two others, including her ex-boyfriend at the time. But that was only the tip of the iceberg…
Hold Up Now…
He also argued that not only did Nicole have had consensual sex with Jos De G but he added that she might have had multiple sexual partners and was possibly pregnant at the time of her death. This unbelievable line of accusations even led to a halt in the trial where police had to go and investigate the possibilities before things could continue.
The fact that they had three separate sources of DNA didn’t make things any easier, especially since one of those sources of DNA was Nicole’s stepbrother Andy: a man who’d already freely admitted his complicity in her death some years before. Finally, scientists decided to retest the DNA using modern methods…
A Damaged Man
In order to mount a defense, Jos De G told the court that between his divorce in 1990 and the birth of his own daughter in 1998, he had a very wild, very active sex life. He didn’t distinguish at all between the women he was with or seem to care that some of those women were forced into the act against their will.
On November 21, 2014, Jos De G. was found guilty of rape and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment. The reason for such a short sentence was the fact that the court took into consideration both the garbled DNA evidence and the fact that De G was likely legally insane at the time of the crime. In the end though, we may never know who was really responsible.