Family of missing boy found dead ‘in shock and extremely sad’
The family of nine-year-old Gino van der Straeten are “shocked and extremely sad” that the boy who has been missing since Wednesday has been found dead. It is a void that cannot be filled, read a statement shared on behalf of the family.
“Unfortunately, the police found Gino’s lifeless body on Saturday. The grief is incomprehensible and terrible. The police will now continue the investigation, and execute it carefully, and give priority to finding what happened. happened and of the people involved,” the statement continued.
Judy op het Veld, the family’s spokesperson, was in Maastricht, where authorities officially confirmed the missing boy’s death. “The family had hope until the body had to be identified.” She said, “They’re together now. Terrible. The grief is immense. You can’t imagine it.”
The family thanked people for the “many heartwarming reactions” they received. “Gino must never be forgotten, and must be remembered as beautifully and as the sweet, cheerful boy he was in the best possible way,” the statement continued. The family said they needed time to grieve and process what happened.
Mayor of Kerkrade, Petra Dassen-Housen, told the press conference in Maastricht that hope that he was still alive among relatives and residents of the municipality of Kerkrade had completely vanished on Saturday. “Because Gino will never come home again. He will never play football again or feel the love of his family.” The boy’s family “must be on our minds all the time”, she said.
Hans Verheijen, the mayor of Sittard-Geleen, was saddened by the unexpected turn of events that occurred in his municipality. “We have been fearing the worst-case scenario for the past few days. Many have remained hopeful, searching and sympathizing. It is extremely bittersweet that Gino’s body has been found in our community of Geleen.” He called it a “terrible blow to the family” and added: “Words fail me. An intense sadness overwhelms us.”
Gino was last seen on Wednesday when he disappeared in the evening after going to play football at a playground in Kerkrade. His family and others searched for him overnight and an Amber Alert was issued on Thursday. Since then, police and dozens of volunteer searchers have scoured the area for the boy.
The search spread beyond Kerkrade when a scooter resembling Gino’s was found near a swimming pool in Landgraaf, around eight kilometers from where it had gone missing. The scooter was found on Thursday, and on Friday volunteers found an item of clothing in Kerkrade that may belong to the boy.
The work of volunteers and investigators led police to a 22-year-old suspect in Geleen, about 30 kilometers from where Gino was staying. The suspect, believed to be Donny M., was taken into custody early Saturday morning. Police said the suspect provided information that led police to the child’s body, but did not confirm that M was the person involved. Authorities said the two locations were the focus of the investigation later that afternoon.
“Many questions exist and a thorough investigation will be needed to get answers to all of these questions,” Verheijen said.
The suspect is expected to face a remand hearing early next week.