“House of Horror”

The workers began, Tuesday, June 7, the demolition work of “the house of horror”, in Marcinelle, Belgium. This is where Marc Dutroux, now incarcerated, had set up a cellar where, before their death, Julie Lejeune, 8 and a half years old, and Melissa Russo, 9 years old, were kidnapped in July 1995 in the Liège region. Then An Marchal, 17 and a half, and Eefje Lambrecks, 19, kidnapped a month later near Ostend, also found dead. Two other victims of the killer, Sabine Dardenne, 12, and Laetitia Delhez, 14, were released on August 15, 1996, two days after Dutroux’s arrest. Despite the tips delivered by an indicator, police and gendarmes had taken more than a year to find the trace of the criminal.

A controversial investigation

Of the sinister building bordered by a railway line, only the cellar will be preserved. On the surface, a “memorial garden” will be laid out. The city of Charleroi decided, after twenty-six years, to raze the house. But relatives of the victims demanded the preservation of the cache. Still revolted by the way the investigation was conducted, they do not want to see a place disappear which, according to them, has not revealed all its secrets. Based on statements made at the time by a senior magistrate, parents believe that all the DNA traces found in the cache (nearly thirty) have not been exploited. In the minds of many Belgians, the Dutroux affair was not completed.

A hidden dungeon

In 2004, in Arlon, during the assize trial of Dutroux, his partner, Michelle Martin, and his accomplice, Michel Lelièvre – both free today – the most intense moment was an organized visit to Marcinelle . Parents, jurors, magistrates, lawyers and journalists visited the cache, a filthy closet, accessible only after manipulation of a clever mechanism almost invisible. Shocked, everyone present discovered the horror of a place where Julie and Melissa were starving to death. An and Eefje, they were extracted before being buried, probably alive and drugged. The young Sabine and Laetitia have rediscovered the place in which they were sequestered.

A cruel failure

The destruction of the house will not erase other tragic episodes, mentioned during a parliamentary commission of inquiry followed by millions of viewers. During a search finally carried out in Marcinelle, after many months of investigation, by the Charleroi gendarmerie, a non-commissioned officer did not notice the cache, but thought he heard whispers. Ordering his colleagues to be quiet, he concluded that these noises came from the street. In reality, Julie and Melissa were in the cellar but, frightened and not imagining that anyone other than Dutroux could be present, they were silent. The gendarmes left, leaving the little girls to their ordeal. The gendarme was the only responsible sanctioned. before being rehabilitated.