Solved: DNA Evidence Cracks Nicole’s Case

It started off as an ordinary day but then teenager Nicole van den Hurk disappeared and was never seen or heard from again. Nicole didn’t have it easy growing up. She was trying to balance her school and job in a bakery. She finally found solace at her grandmother’s house where she lived with her stepbrother.

Nicole van den Hurk and Ad van den Hurk / Nicole van den Hurk / The jury / A police officer.
Source: YouTube

However, her stability would be ruined forever. After her disappreance, the investigation into her whereabouts went cold, and the case was almost forgotten. But in an unexpected twist, a confession came up in a Facebook post two decades later. People finally got answers.

Growing Up Was Tough

In July 1980, Nicole van den Hurk was welcomed into the world in Erkelenz, a small town in Germany. She was raised by her mom, Angelika Tegrmeier, her stepdad, Ad van den Hurk, and her step-brother, Andy. When she was three, the family moved to the Netherlands. But her mother was suffering from some mental issues and often stayed in her bedroom alone for hours.

Younger Nicole van den Hurk.
Source: Pinterest

So, Nicole had a complicated and unstable family life. As she grew up, her mom and stepdad started growing apart, and Nicole noticed. When she was eight, her parents told her they were getting divorced. Although she was young, Nicole understood the situation. What she didn’t realize was that this would be the last time she would ever see her mother.

Changing Family Dynamic

During the court proceedings, Ad wanted full custody of Nicole until she turned 18. Because of her mental illness, Angelika wasn’t stable enough to take care of a home, let alone a child. Therefore, Ad got full custody.

The judge is about to take his seat in the courtroom.
Photo by Thomas Frey/picture-alliance/Getty Images

Even though it came as a bit of a shock, Nicole was happy about it. Her parents’ divorce made her more concerned that she was going to be stuck living with her mother, a woman who could hardly take care of herself. She was so grateful to be living with Ad.

Caught in the Middle

Ad found a house in the same city the kids grew up in. However, Ad had a full career in the music industry, and it was difficult for him to juggle his family life and his professional life. So he asked his mother for help. She lived just a few minutes away from them, and the kids loved her. They would even sleep there sometimes, and they got really close.

Vintage photo from Ad singing on stage.
Source: Tumblr

Everything was going great. Ad met a woman named Jolanda, who was also working in the music industry, and he wanted to marry her. She got along great with Andy and Nicole, and soon enough, she married Ad and was part of the family. Both parents traveled for work a lot which meant no one was home to take care of Andy and Nicole, who were young and needed love and attention.

Angelica Lost It

The news of Ad’s marriage eventually reached Angelica, who was heartbroken. She was still in love with Ad. Despite trying to focus on her mental health, things took a dark turn. The news was too much for Angelica, and she committed suicide in April 1995.

Nicole and her father are sitting on a boat on a summer afternoon.
Source: Pinterest

Nicole was devastated by her mom’s death. She never got the chance to become close with her mother because of her mental health, especially after the divorce. Ad made sure to take care of Nicole as she grieved. Meanwhile, Nicole grew into a teenager and got a job working at a bakery, just a bike ride away from her house.

Staying Strong

Nicole stayed strong and really enjoyed her job. She felt like she found a new purpose there. Even though she was back on her feet, the loss still haunted her. But she had great friends who supported and distracted her.

Portrait of Nicole in her teens.
Source: Tumblr

Because of her coping mechanism, Nicole was barely ever home. She would either be at school, work or with a friend. And since her parents were always away, Nicole and Andy were basically allowed to do whatever they wanted. Their grandma wasn’t very strict, and she would often leave them unattended.

Going to Work

October 6, 1995 seemed like a regular day. After school, Nicole went to her grandmother’s house to get ready for work, as she usually did. She took her keys, purse and rode her bike to the bakery. The responsible teenager was never late for work, but this day proved to be far from ordinary. It was fifteen minutes into her shift, and Nicole still hadn’t arrived.

Konmar supermarket outside view / View to the inside of an empty supermarket.
Source: Facebook

The bakery owner got worried and called the police. Shortly after, they informed Nicole’s grandmother and then Ad. Police asked people around the area if they had seen a girl who looked like Nicole. Unfortunately, no one seemed to have heard or seen anything.

Vanished Without a Trace

Thirty minutes into the search, police finally found something: Nicole’s bike abandoned along the banks of the Dommel River. Unfortunately, Nicole was nowhere to be found. They tried looking for her in the dark, cloudy waters of the river but came up with nothing.

An abandoned bike by the river.
Photo by Arne Dedert/picture-alliance/Getty Images

As soon as he heard the bad news, Ad went home to be with his family. He knew Nicole would never run away, which meant he feared the worst. Then, detectives announced that they found a canvas bag, the same bag that Nicole had had with her when she left for work. After finding the bag near a canal, police planned to search the area the following day.

Police Had Nothing

The police continued their search, and the investigation went on. They started accepting tips and put out a monetary award for any information leading to Nicole’s whereabouts. But they had no clues that brought them closer to Nicole or the truth.

A police officer and a diver are searching for a body in the river.
Photo by Roberto Pfeil/picture-alliance/Getty Images

Ad and Nicole’s grandmother were repeatedly interviewed by the police. As the days and weeks dragged on, they still had nothing, despite all the leads coming in. As you can imagine, Ad was getting more and more frustrated. He started to think the police weren’t doing enough to find Nicole.

Turning to a Psychic

Anyone and everyone who had ever ever involved with Nicole was interviewed and gave statements to the police: her ex-boyfriend, friends, and even some strangers who had run into her. Ad’s wife, Jolanda, stood by her man throughout this difficult time. She even offered the help of a psychic.

Tarot card reading.
Photo by Godong/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Out of complete and utter desperation Ad agreed. The psychic told them to focus their search on two specific canals. Ad told the police what the psychic said, and they decided to search the area with the help of K-9 dogs.

She Was Just Gone

They were hopeful that the psychic was right and maybe it would somehow lead to Nicole. Despite all their hope, nothing came up. It was a total disappointment, and they really had nowhere else to turn at this point. It was like Nicole just vanished into thin air.

An outside view of the school Nicole was attending.
Source: YouTube

They were back to square one. Even though they didn’t want to give up on Nicole, they were losing hope. They got nothing from the numerous searches, tips, statements, and even the psychic. The lost girl was simply nowhere to be found.

Finally Found

Days and weeks continued to pass, and soon it was two months after Nicole initially went missing. Finally, the search for her body came to a tragic end. In late November, a hiker was exploring the woods when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye and decided to take a closer look.

A hiker explores the forest / Aerial google maps view of Dommel River.
Photo by Alexander Ryumin, TASS, Getty Images / YouTube

As he walked toward it, what he saw stunned him: It was a body. The hiker immediately called the police, and they got to the scene within minutes. After a series of forensic and DNA tests, they were able to determine that it was, in fact, Nicole.

Nicole’s Body

The family was obviously heartbroken. They were praying to find Nicole alive, but unfortunately, that didn’t happen. She had two fractures around her jaw and most likely died from blood loss after being stabbed in the ribs.

Investigators and officers from the police department are talking to the press.
Source: YouTube

The family was shocked and completely speechless when they heard what happened to her. They were already devastated by her death but finding out she was murdered made it even more tragic. Who would have done something like this to Nicole?

Who Did This?

A few days later, the police gave Nicole’s body to her family. Without wasting any time, Ad planned her funeral for that weekend. Even after searching the body, police came up with nothing. They continued their investigation and interviewed Ad and his mother once again, who was unsatisfied that police got no information from her body.

Female journalist reporting Nicole's case / Male journalist broadcasting news on Nicole's case.
Source: YouTube

Thousands of people supported the van den Hurks and came to pay their respects to the poor young teen who was gone far too soon. The police were still determined to crack the case and began investigating Nicole’s family closer.

Looking at the Family

When they came up with nothing, investigators started looking at Ad, Andy, and even Nicole’s grandmother. After all, this wasn’t a missing person case anymore – it was a murder case. Andy, who was just five years older than Nicole, had never been a person of interest until now.

Andy is taking a selfie at the gym.
Source: Tumblr

After Nicole’s disappearance, he moved back in with his father. Everyone was in utter shock when the father-son duo was arrested just six months after her funeral as suspects in the case. They were interrogated for hours, but without any evidence, they were sent home.

The Case Was Going Cold

By this point, it seemed like Nicole’s case was going cold. But then, something came up. A friend of the family was arrested for drug trafficking and claimed to have information about Nicole’s case. She began naming names of people she worked with and said they were responsible for Nicole’s disappearance and her murder.

View of three busy interrogation rooms.
Photo by Michael Williamson/The The Washington Post/Getty Images

However, police thought she was just trying to get her prison time shortened by making a deal with investigators, and Nicole’s family was left even more irritated. But was there any truth to what she was saying? Or was it all a lie to save herself? It looked like the latter.

Time to Move On

After years of coming up with nothing, Ad and Andy were left emotionally drained. I can only imagine how defeated they must have felt after fifteen years. By this point, Nicole would have been in her thirties, but the cold-blooded murderer who cut her life short was still not caught.

The press spots on Ad walking in the street.
Ad van den Hurk. Source: Pinterest

Ad held on to hope and begged the police to continue searching until they found her killer. All he could do now was pray that someone had seen something and was ready to talk. Just one lead could move this investigation forward. All they wanted was justice for Nicole and to put the person responsible for her murder behind bars.

Life Goes On

By 2011, it was time for Andy and Ad to try and move on with their lives. Ad focused on his career and went back to work in the music business, but he still lived in the Netherlands. Andy moved to England to get away from everything and start fresh.

Andy is sitting on the couch of his new home / View out a plane window.
Andy van den Hurk. Source: YouTube

Despite the long distance, Andy and Ad talked to each other all the time and remained close. Soon enough, Ad realized it was time for him to let go of Nicole’s murder at some point and move on. But Andy had a different idea and decided to act on it…

A Shocking Statement

On March 8, 2011, Andy posted a shocking statement on Facebook, in front of the entire social media world. He decided to tell his friends and family that he was the one who killed Nicole. He was immediately arrested by British police.

Portrait of Andy.
Andy van den Hurk. Source: Facebook

Andy repeated his confession when he faced authorities. He told them that he murdered his sister and was sent to the Netherlands to stand trial for murder. When he got back to the Netherlands, he was put in jail and had no contact with anyone… including his father.

What Really Happened

Andy’s confession was a huge twist in the investigation and added a completely new element to the case. I mean, this was the only lead in years. However, since the only evidence against Andy was his Facebook post, he was released just five days later.

A police officer is interviewed outside the police station.
Source: YouTube

Realizing that something strange was going on, the police decided to interview Ad about his son’s shocking confession. But Ad had an interesting response. He thought that Andy was probably just trying to get attention after Nicole had been in the spotlight for so long.

Is Andy Telling the Truth?

Ad didn’t really have a way of knowing whether Andy was telling the truth, but he didn’t like what his son was doing. He had recently moved to Spain after splitting up with Jolanda and just wanted some space. He needed to get away from all the media attention in his hometown.

A view of an altar memorial in homage to Nicole van den Hurk at the forest.
Source: YouTube

Jolanda was also brought into the investigation, but she didn’t have much to say. She did mention, however, that she thought there had to be an ulterior motive behind Andy’s vicious crime. She had no idea what it could possibly be, but she knew Andy. She didn’t believe he could have done something like this for no reason.

Making Serious Accusations

But there was much more to what Andy had done. Moments after he was released, Andy took the world by surprise, yet again. In his first statement, he confessed to killing Nicole, but his next announcement said otherwise. He said that he had not killed his sister but confessed in order to bring attention to the case. He then revealed who the real culprit was: his father Ad.

Ad is talking to the press outside the courtroom.
Source: Tumblr

He said that Ad raped Nicole, and she got pregnant with his baby. In order to keep the disturbing ordeal a secret, he killed her. Once again, everyone was shocked by his serious revelations. Ad, on the other hand, was dumbfounded.

Digging Her Up

Ad was baffled that his own son would betray him like that. Andy later admitted that he was doing all these strange things in the hopes that the confessions would lead to having Nicole’s body exhumed. He believed that investigators needed another look to try and get some sort of DNA from her body that they may have missed the first time around.

A forensics investigator is putting her suit on / A forensics investigator is putting her gloves on.
Source: YouTube

Now, police didn’t have much of a choice and sent out a team to take Nicole’s body to the Netherlands Forensic Institute. This time, they were ready to search until there was not a stone left unturned. What they found not only shocked Ad and Andy, but the rest of the world.

Waiting Patiently

Nicole van den Hurk’s body was dug up from the ground for re-examination in September 2011. Ad was certain that his DNA would not be found on Nicole’s body, but nonetheless, he hoped they would find something. After Andy’s serious accusations, he hadn’t spoken to him. No matter what Andy’s reasoning was, Ad still felt betrayed. He wasn’t sure if he could move on from it.

Police investigator is talking to the press.
Source: Pinterest

Sure enough, the DNA tests showed no trace of Ad. However, there was foreign DNA that belonged to a man on her body. When police went public with the results, new leads began pouring in. They even increased the reward to find their killer faster. A case that was deemed stale and cold was now alive and burning once again.

A DNA Match

Everyone was at the edge of their seats waiting. The second Ad heard the news, his heart stopped. Was this really the moment he’d been waiting for, for almost two decades? He now felt closer to finding out who had done this to Nicole than ever before. He just wanted to catch the person responsible for this unspeakable crime.

A worker in a lab is doing forensics DNA testing.
Photo by Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS/Getty Images

Finally, there was a break in the case. As it turned out, they found a match to the DNA found on Nicole’s body, and he was already in the database. Andy’s extreme and disturbing efforts were not in vain, after all.

The New Suspect

The foreign DNA that was found on Nicole’s dug-up body matched with an individual named Jos de G. This man was a former psychiatric patient and convicted rapist. Other than finding his physical DNA on Nicole’s body, police still needed to find a motive. They interrogated Jos, who said that he left his home the same day Nicole vanished. He remembered arguing with his girlfriend before leaving the house.

Portrait of Jos de G.
Jos de G. Source: YouTube

Jos de G. was already charged for previous crimes. He was sentenced to three years in prison for one of his convictions. But these new findings sent him right back into the courtroom. His trial was scheduled to begin in the winter of 2015.

Did He Know Nicole?

Finding Jos’s DNA on Nicole’s body was a big step in the investigation, but there was more to it. His lawyer suggested that there were more stains of DNA found on Nicole’s body that didn’t belong to Jos. The other traces came from Nicole’s ex-boyfriend and Andy.

A sketch of Jos de G. sitting in the courtroom.
Jos de G. Source: Tumblr

Jos’s lawyer claimed that Jos and Nicole actually knew each other, and they were having consensual sex before she died. But then, the prosecution countered that argument. They explained that Nicole was at the wrong place at the wrong time and came across Jos, who was still furious from a fight with his girlfriend.

Victim of Opportunity

In their counterclaim, the prosecution didn’t give a motive because they didn’t think Jos specifically targeted Nicole; it could have been anyone. He was just angry and decided to let all his rage out on the poor innocent girl.

A sketch of Jos de G. sitting in the courtroom.
Jos de G. Source: Pinterest

In one moment, he took Nicole’s life away from her. She did nothing wrong and didn’t deserve any of it. However, Jos’s lawyers stuck to their story by assertively trying to discredit the DNA that was literally found on her body when they dug it up. They argued that the other DNA found on her could have belonged to the killer.

Charges Shockingly Dropped

After the persistent claims brought on by the defense, they asked the court to retest the DNA samples. They pushed the fact that there were actually DNA stains from three different people, so blaming her murder on Jos would be unreasonable and wrong.

Jos de G. lawyer talking to the press in a court recess.
Job Knoester. Source: YouTube

The court accepted the appeal and agreed to re-analyze the DNA. It took weeks for concrete evidence to return, but it did. When the results came out, a spokesperson from the health institute announced them. It showed that it was one million times more likely that the DNA found did belong to Jos.

The Prosecution Heard Enough

By this point, the prosecution had heard enough. They asked the court to sentence Jos to at least 14 years behind bars. It was unimaginable to them that Nicole would have consensual sex or a casual relationship with this man as he was more than three times her age.

A sketch of the jury as they listen to all the testimonies.
Source: Pinterest

However, the trial ended with an unwarranted decision. Jos’s murder charges were dropped to manslaughter and rape. In November 2016, the trial finally came to an end, and the verdict was disclosed. As they were anxiously waiting for the sentencing, no one expected what they were about to hear.

Not Guilty

The long and exhausting trial lasted almost two years, which is why it came as a disappointment that Jos was not found guilty of the manslaughter charge. However, he was found guilty of rape. In the end, this man got just five years in the slammer for his crime.

A view at the jury after they came to a resolution on the case.
Source: Tumblr

It was a much lesser charge than what the public thought he deserved. The family was heartbroken, and the judge had no choice but to rule that Jos was legally insane when he committed the crime. Nobody was happy, and everyone thought he got away with a vicious crime.

Ad Was Heartbroken

Everyone following this case was enraged; they just wanted justice for Nicole. But the person most affected by this whole ordeal was Ad. The news shattered his heart into a million pieces. He just wanted justice to be served for Nicole after all this time. Andy was so lost; he didn’t even know what to believe anymore.

Ad talks to the press outside the courtroom.
Source: Pinterest

Andy believes that his dad was involved in the murder; he believes Jos’s five-year sentence was some kind of cruel joke. There are two sides to every story, but when it comes to this case, Nicole’s side will never be heard. Sadly, we’ll probably never know what happened on that fateful day.