It is “highly likely” that Jürgen Conings, the former army soldier with extremist views who went missing in mid-May for around one month, committed suicide shortly after his disappearance.
Based on the number of steps Conings took, indicated on his mobile phone’s pedometer, detectives came to the conclusion that he took his own life in the first days following his disappearance on 17 May.
“We know that his mobile phone still registered about 800 steps on 18 May, after that it stopped,” federal prosecutor Frédéric Van Leeuw told Radio 1.
“So it seems more than likely he took his own life in the first days after his disappearance,” he added.
The exact date of his death is not yet known, as the experts could only determine a very wide range of the time of death, due to the variable weather conditions in May and June, when temperatures fluctuated from 9°C to 30°C.
However, the low step count on his phone could now be the first reliable indicator that he committed suicide shortly after his disappearance.
“The investigating judge has requested additional investigative steps to determine a more precise time of death, as far as possible,” Van Leeuw said.
Investigations are also still underway to shed light on the soldier’s last days, according to Van Leeuw.
A nationwide manhunt involving up to 150 soldiers took place from mid-May after Conings stole an arsenal of deadly weapons from a military barracks in Limburg and went missing in May, leaving a letter in which he threatened the government, his employer, and virologist Marc Van Ranst.
A month after his disappearance, his body was found by accident in the Hoge Kempen National Park in Dilsen-Stokkem on June 20, when random passers-by noticed a strong smell.
If you have been having suicidal thoughts, or are worried about someone else, contact one of the help organisations listed here.