The house in Marcinelle near Charleroi that once belonged to infamous pedophile serial killer Marc Dutroux is to be demolished to make way for a small remembrance park, the city of Charleroi has announced.
The house was adapted by Dutroux to create a hidden cell in the basement, whose door was disguised by a shelving unit. The cellar was the place where two kidnapped children, Julie Lejeune and Mélissa Russo, were imprisoned, sexually assaulted and where they eventually died of thirst and starvation in filth and squalor.
Dutroux himself was at that time in prison, and his then-wife Michelle Martin later said she did not dare go to the house to feed the children.
The house was also where two older girls, Eefje Lambrecks and An Marchal, were held for a time before being killed and buried in a pit elsewhere. That was also the fate of Dutroux confederate Bernard Weinstein.
Finally, Dutroux’s last two victims, Sabine Dardenne and Laeticia Delhez, were kept at the house before being rescued, alive but traumatised, after a witness identified Dutroux’s van at the scene of Sabine’s kidnapping.
The house was impounded by the city of Charleroi for a sum reported to be around 23,000 euros, money which went to a fund to compensate his victims and their families. But the city has done nothing with the house since then, although the dilapidated facade has been painted with the image of a child flying a kite (photo).
The city has now announced its plans to demolish the house and the property next door and in their place build a small remembrance park.
Works are scheduled for the third quarter of 2021, and in the meantime local residents will be consulted on the final form of the park. The works are, for a reason that has not been explained, timetabled to take three years.
“The works consist of the destruction of the former house, and the one adjoining, as well as the construction of a memorial square on the two plot,” the city states in its published plan for urban development. A budget of 950,000 euros has been assigned.
Dutroux, convicted in 2004, remains in prison where he is reported to be working towards conditional early release.
His ex-wife was released into the custody of a convent in Namur in 2012 after a previous arrangement with a convent in France was withdrawn in the light of international publicity. Accomplice Michel Lelièvre has now applied to be released under electronic surveillance.
A fourth accused, Michel Nihoul, was found not guilty of sex crimes and kidnapping but sentenced to five years for drugs trafficking. Now 78 years old, he lives in Zeebrugge.