March 12, 2023

Nicole van den Hurk // 154 // False confession

Nicole van den Hurk // 154 // False confession

Nicole van den Hurk disappeared on her way to work in Eindhoven on October 6th of 1995, and her body was discovered in the woods on November 22nd.  In 2011, her stepbrother falsely confessed to get her body exhumed for DNA tests.  DNA collected from the crime scene led to the arrest of Jos de G.  In November of 2016, he was sentenced to five years' imprisonment, but this was later appealed and his sentenced was increased to 12 years.



Nicole Van Den Hurk was born on July 4th, 1980, in Germany.  Her mother Angelike Tegtmeier was a single mother, and she was not sure who Nicole’s father actually was at first, but a blood test did confirm it on July 21st of 1981.  The father was a married man from the neighborhood and his name was officially added to the birth certificate on April 7th, 1982.  After Nicole was born, Angelike started dating Ad Van Den Hurk and she married him after 2 years of dating, but this was a brief marriage and they divorced in 1989.  Angelike struggled with mental health issues, and she would lock herself in her room for hours.  When the couple got divorced, Ad asked for full custody of his stepdaughter, Nicole.  Due to her mother’s inability to care for her, he was granted full custody.   


Ad moved his family to a new home, but it was pretty overwhelming for him at times because he worked in the music industry and his job was very demanding.  Luckily, his mother lived close by, and she was able to watch the kids often.  Ad met a woman named Jolanda who also worked in the music industry and the two of them eventually got married.  When Nicole’s mother, Angelike heard about this, she was devastated, and she ended up taking her own life.  Even though Nicole wasn’t close to her mother, this took an obvious toll on her.  She kept herself very busy with work, school, and hanging out with her friends. 


On October 5th, 1995, Nicole complained to her aunt that an unknown man had harassed her on her way home.  She went missing the next day.  On October 6th, 1995, when Nicole was 15 years old, she left her grandmother’s house in Eindhoven, Netherlands, early in the morning.  She was heading to work at a shopping center by bicycle, but she never arrived.  Nicole was very responsible and never skipped work, so her boss was worried when she didn’t show up.  Her boss contacted her grandma, and she ended up calling the police to report her missing.  The police began searching for her around 6 PM and they found her bike in the river Dommel.  For the next 11 days, the river and nearby forest were searched, but they couldn’t find Nicole.  On October 19th, her backpack was found near Eindhoven’s canal and by November 20th, the police had received about 300 leads.     


A little over a month after her disappearance, on November 22nd, her body was found in the woods between the towns of Mierlo (Meer-lo)  and Lierop (Lee-rop), after a passerby found her.  She had been brutally raped and murdered and the cause of death was most likely due to internal bleeding from a stabbing wound.  The post-mortem examination showed that she had suffered two fractures to her jaw, she also had other head and finger injuries, and a rib injury inflicted by stabbing with a pocket or fishing knife. 


The police did not believe that she ran away from home, and they initially focused on Nicole’s stepfather Ad and stepbrother Andy as the main suspects.  They were both arrested but were released and cleared of all charges.  A few months after the murder, a family friend, Celine Hartogs, was arrested for drug trafficking.  She claimed that she was working for a man involved in the murder, but there was no evidence supporting this claim, but Nicole’s stepfather believed her. 


A reward was offered for any information related to Nicole’s murder, but nothing came in. By 2004, a cold case team took over, but it didn’t go anywhere initially.  Many years went by, and someone finally made a confession, and that person was her stepbrother, Andy.  In 1995, the technology wasn’t advanced enough to identify foreign DNA.  In 2011, Andy Van Den Hurk, relocated to England.  Before his arrest, he posted the following on Facebook: “I will be arrested today for the murder of my sister.  I confessed.  Will get in touch soon.” 


This was a false confession.  It was done deliberately to get police to exhume Nicole’s body for a DNA test.  Andy also started a rumor that he believed his father killed Nicole.  He said, “I wanted to get her exhumed and obtain DNA evidence, so I set myself up.  I went to the police and told them I did it.”  He said, “It could have gone horribly wrong, but my ultimate goal was to get her exhumed so the truth could finally be uncovered.” 


The police wanted to keep Andy in custody, but the magistrate ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence to keep him behind bars, so he was released just five days after his arrest.  Shortly after this, Andy retracted his confession and said, “To get her exhumed I had to put steps in place.  I went to the police and said I did it.  She is my sister, absolutely.  I miss her every day.”  Following his confession, Nicole’s remains were exhumed in September of 2011 to get DNA samples.  A week later, the police reported that a foreign DNA match was found, and this ramped up the investigation.  Three separate DNA types were identified from a single trace of sperm and the DNA matched Nicole’s boyfriend, an unknown individual, and Jos De G. 


Since the DNA matched three people, it made things trickier.  Scientists at the ESR facility based in Mt Albert, Auckland were called upon to help.  They have revolutionary technology which uses a mathematical and statistical method instead of testing the results in a lab.  It’s used when the DNA from several people is found on a single piece of trace evidence.  They used a program dubbed STRmix and they can use it to prove if Jos De G’s DNA is a true positive match. 


A spokeswoman for the ESR said the program was established by scientists at the Crown facility and Forensic Science South Australia in August of 2012 and it’s been used in routine casework interpretation ever since.  It has been verified by the US Army Network and it’s also used by the FBI.  According to NL Times, it is 2.28 million times more likely that the three identifiable DNA strands found in trace evidence on Nicole’s body belonged to Jos.  


46-year-old Jos De G was arrested after his DNA matched the samples retrieved from Nicole’s remains and the crime scene.  He had previously been convicted of three rapes and served three years in preventative detention and compulsory treatment for one of these crimes.  On the day of Nicole’s disappearance, he left his ex-girlfriend's home after a fight.  He was already connected with a case where he pulled a woman off her bike, dragged her into a cane plantation and raped her several times. 



The trial was postponed or delayed when two new witnesses came forward.  Both witnesses were in a psychiatric institution with Jos De G. They both claimed that he told them about murdering a girl and they believed he was talking about Nicole Van Den Hurk.  The Prosecutor had a conversation with one of the witnesses and believed the statement may be relevant, which is why they did a two-week suspension to investigate.  Jos’s lawyers were against the suspension.  According to them, witnesses come forward at the last moment all the time and it could be for media coverage.  The statements were not included in the evidence against him, even though the Public Prosecutor said he believed them. 


The witness told the NL Times that, “He looked at me with those cold eyes and said he killed a girl.”  Jos allegedly told the witness that he had sex with the girl, and she laughed about the size of his penis.  He killed her because she ridiculed him.   

*Ridiculous, she was a 15-year-old girl 

The witness initially thought that Jos was boasting, but they made the connection when he was arrested.  The witness decided to come forward after reading about the insufficient evidence in the case.   The second witness had a similar story and said Jos told them that he committed a murder and wasn’t arrested for it.  Jos said that he and the witnesses got along “like cat and dog” in the psychiatric clinic, but a psychiatrist from the clinic said that was bullshit, they played poker together, they got along just fine.  In 2011, a psychiatric evaluation described him as being, “a vessel overflowing with hate, and likely to repeat his crimes.” 


When the trial was first starting, Nicole’s stepbrother Andy posted on Facebook, “Today my sister’s rape and murder trial starts after 20 years.  I hope she’ll get the rest she deserves.  Needless to say, I’m a nervous wreck.”  Her stepmother and stepsister also released a statement to the press saying, “No daughter, no little sister anymore, from October 6th of 1995, no complete family anymore.  From October 6th, 1995 no Nicole anymore.  Disbelief, pain, sorrow, are the first words in my head.  I’ve actually been speaking these words in my head for twenty years.  But these words mean nothing to those who did this to her, for them, need, lust, and power matter.” 


During a pre-trial hearing, the Public Prosecution Authority formally dropped the homicide charge, so Jos De G could only be prosecuted for manslaughter and rape.  The Public Prosecution Authority told the court the homicide charge was dropped due to the forensic evidence in the case.  In an interview with the NL Times, Nicole’s stepbrother, Andy, said he was angry that the charge was reduced, and he feels that justice will not be served.  He said he would like to see the justice system revised, “where convicted people who rape can’t just walk free again.” 


Andy felt very strongly that the homicide charge should be pursued and for him, it all comes down to the distinction between leaving someone at the scene of the crime, versus moving the victim to another location.  He said, “If he left her there, alive or dead, that’s manslaughter.  To move a body within your own free will, that’s murder.” 


Losing someone in a tragic way will always change your life, but for Andy, his sister’s murder, keeps him up at night.  At the time that the article was written, it said his fiancée David James, said that he was doing his best to help keep Andy moving forward in life.  He explained that it’s been very hard and sometimes Andy screams at night. 


Nicole’s stepfather, Ad Van Den Hurk told reporters that he was particularly disappointed in the prosecutor’s decision.  He said, “This man deserves the highest punishment there is.  He has already attempted to murder two women in the past and has taken the life of my child.  The Netherlands is not helped by this, that such a man may still walk the streets.” 


During the first trial in 2014, the defense argued that the DNA evidence was inconclusive since they found multiple DNA types on Nicole’s remains, including her ex-boyfriend's.  The defense claimed that Nicole may have had consensual sex with Jos De G a few days prior to her disappearance and she could have been pregnant at the time of her death.  They made it sound like she had sex shortly before her death, like she was a promiscuous girl.  Her brother Andy said, “The defense attorney is a very clever man.”  I just want to point out that Nicole went missing after leaving her grandmother’s house and she was heading to work.  She didn’t stop in the forest for sex.  They tried so hard to say that many girls are sexually active at 15-years-old and claimed for all they know, she could have even been pregnant at the time of her murder. 


In 2015, Jos De G said he may have had sex with Nicole, he just wasn’t positive, but he had nothing to do with her disappearance.  The prosecution argued that there was no possible way that it was consensual sex because Nicole barely even had time for a relationship.  


On November 21st, 2015, he was acquitted of the murder charge, but convicted of rape and sentenced to 5 years in prison.  Nicole’s family members left the courtroom sobbing as the judge acquitted him of manslaughter.  Nicole’s stepmother, Jolanda shouted in court, “Applause guys!  What if this would happen to your children?  This is simply unbelievable.”  She yelled, “I’ve said enough.” as the police led her out.  When it came to the conviction, the panel of judges said it was unanimous when it came to a guilty verdict for the rape charges.  They said that Jos De G’s version of events and his theories about the incident just lacked credibility.  However, the presence of his DNA is not enough to convict him of murder.  The trace evidence was the only physical evidence in this case, and it matched three separate people, so that left reasonable doubt. 


The discovery of Jos De G’s sperm on Nicole’s clothing and jacket indicated rape and it was determined that the two of them didn’t know each other.  Jos told the court that, “sex was the same as paying for the groceries.”  He said he had very low self-esteem and drank to feel good.  Between his divorce in 1990 and the birth of his daughter in 1998, he had a wildlife.  He said he didn’t differentiate between “old, young, blond, black.”  Sex meant nothing to him.  It was just an escape from reality.     


Prosecutors had been pushing for a 14-year sentence assuming a conviction for both rape and manslaughter.  Jos De G had been sitting in custody for two years after his arrest, so he only needed to stay in custody for another 3 years, but he could get released earlier for good behavior.  He would also not be sent to a psychiatric prison ward, where detention can be extended until a prisoner is clinically determined to be fit to re-enter society. 


He has always maintained that he did not rape or murder Nicole and said, “I can not take responsibility for something I did not do.”       


Both the Prosecutor and defense appealed and this time, the court saw no evidential value in the unknown DNA trace.  His sentence was increased to 12 years in prison for the rape and manslaughter of Nicole Van Den Hurk.