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Scout Leader Arrested In Cold-Case Killing Of 11-Year-Old Boy Who Vanished From Camp

Jos Brech had lived just eight miles from the site where 11-year-old Nicky Verstappen was killed in 1998.

By Jill Sederstrom

Twenty years ago, a young Dutch boy at summer camp disappeared from his tent in the middle of the night.

The next day, 11-year-old Nicky Verstappen's body was discovered in a forest a few miles away from camp, sparking one of the most extensive murder investigations the Netherlands had ever seen.

And now — more than two decades later — police have arrested a former scout master they believe is responsible for the crime.

Jos Brech, 55, was apprehended Sunday afternoon by police in Spain, ending a trans-European manhunt for the survivalist expert, whose experience living in the wilderness for long periods of time had allowed him to elude authorities.

Brech's family had reported missing in April, according to the New York Post. Last week, police in the Netherlands appealed to the public for help in finding Brech, sharing several photos of the man for reference.

Brech was apprehended after a witness recognized the fugitive from the photos, and reported seeing him in Castelltercol, a village north of Barcelona, the BBC reported.

Brech had been living in a tent in the woods, the eyewitness told the Amsterdam-based Telegraaf newspaper.

Police in Spain posted video of his arrest on social media.

Brech became a suspect in the crime after Dutch authorities made an appeal in May 2017 for men in the Limburg area to come forward and provide DNA samples. Almost 15,000 came forward, and although no direct match was made, DNA provided by a close relative of the allged killer showed similarities with samples found at the crime scene — identifying Brech as a possible suspect, according to The Guardian.

Police were then able to positively match Brech's DNA to samples found at the crime scene after taking specimens from pajamas found at his home, after his family had reported him missing.

Verstappen disappeared from his tent at summer camp in August 1998. His body showed signs of sexual abuse when it was discovered the next day in a nature preserve.

Brech, who reportedly lived eight miles away from the camp site at the time of the murder, had been questioned by police two decades ago, but wasn't considered a suspect, The Guardian reported.

Cops on the night of the murder had stopped him near the crime scene.

The arrest brings relief to Verstappen's family, who had wondered for years who had killed the boy.

Journalist Peter R. de Vries, whom the New York Post identified as a spokesperson for the family, said relatives were pleased that justice would be served.

"We got him!" de Vries wrote on Twitter.

[Photo: Getty Images]

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