The end of the world is coming: The Order of the Solar Temple

Trigger warning: This story contains child murder, murder and suicide.

Ever heard of The Order of the Solar Temple? Also known as the Ordre du Temple Solaire, OTS, the International Chilvalric Organization of the Solar Tradition or The Solar Temple, it was a religious sect started in Geneva, Switzerland in 1984. Many people became aware of this cult in 1994 and 1995, when it was associated with several murders and a mass suicide.

Let’s start at the beginning. The founders of the OTS were Joseph di Mambro and Luc Jouret. Di Mambro was a jeweller, orginally born in France in 1924. He moved to Switzerland in 1971 after he was arrested in France for writing bad checks. In Switzerland he worked as a teacher of yoga and the occult. He started several ‘secret’ societies, one of which was the Golden Way. Later Di Mambro would claim he was a Knight Templar in a previous life.

Joseph di Mambro with his daughter Emmanuelle

In 1982, Luc Jouret joined the Golden Way. He was born in Kikwit, Belgian Congo, in 1947 and was trained as a homeopathic doctor. In 1982, he started the ‘Amanta Club’, that managed his speaking arrangements. Jouret was a respected, charismatic and popular speaker on the topics of homeopathy, naturopathy and ecological subjects.

Luc Jouret

Luc Jouret and Joseph di Mambro were both members of the Renewed Order of the Temple (ORT). After the leader of the ORT, Julien Origas, died in 1983, Jouret claimed that he was the heir of his power and therefore the new leader of the ORT. The heirs of Origas did not agree and excluded Jouret and di Mambro from the ORT.

The Beginning and beliefs of the OTS

So, after being removed from the ORT Jouret and di Mambro had to start again… They started The Order of the Solar Temple in 1984 and quickly moved to Canada due to animosity with the members of the ORT. Jouret held lectures to interest new followers in Canada, the Caribbean, the US, Spain, France and Switzerland. This was the previously mentioned ‘Amanta Club’. The goal was to spread the OTS’s ideas and get the spiritual elite interested in those ideas. The lectures organized by the Amanta Club were popular and drew large crowds. However, only a few joined the OTS. After giving the new members more information, the suitable ones were invited to join the ‘Archedia Club’, where they would receive even more information about the ideology of OTS. After this, the ‘best’ members would be invited into the inner sactum of the OTS, the International Knighthood Organization. Membership was at its maximum in 1989 at 442 members, of which 86 in Canada.

Joseph Di Mambro, his wife Jocelyne and daughter Emmanuelle.
(Photo by Stephane Ruet/Sygma via Getty Images)

Di Mambro was the real ‘behind-the-scenes’ leader of the OTS, while Jouret was their public image. Di Mambro claimed to be in contact with the divine and to be their representative on earth. He would receive messages during group sessions. The further beliefs of the OTS were inspired by the original Knights Templar. The OTS practiced various types of meditative and occult disciplines, with the goal to achieve an enlightened state of consciousness. Their other aims included ‘assisting humanity through a great transition’, waiting for the second coming of Christ and unifying all Cristian churches.

The OTS had a hierarchical system in place for leadership. The central authority, the Synarchy of the Temple, had only anonymous members. The most important members of the cult were known as the Elder Brothers of the Rosy Cross. There were 33 members of this order and they resided in Zurich, Switzerland. The rest of the OTS consisted of Lodges, run by a Commander and 3 Elders. You could progress in the order through leveling up. There were three grades per level, and the levels were named (from lowest to highest)… ready? The Brothers of Parvis, The Knights of Alliance and the Brothers of Ancient Times. Yes, really.

The lodges in the OTS used altars, rituals and special outfits. Each member ascending a grade or level up was celebrated with an initiation ceremony, including costumes, jewellery and initiation fees to be payed by the member. A sword was often used in ceremonies led by Di Mambro, which he claimed to be an authentic sword of the Knights Templar. The sword was given to Di Mambro, you guessed it, in his previous life as a Knight Templar (how he still had it hundreds of years later, is unknown…).

By the late 80ies, the OTS now believed that the world would end at the end of the ‘age of Christianity’. They based this on a 1959 book by French author Jacques Bryer, named Arcanes Solaires ou les secrets du temple solaire. Breyer named three possible dates for the end of the world: 1999, 2147 or 2666. He added that the specific date was not important, but the right preparation for the end of the world was absolutely necessary. The group also believed that they would produce the next generation of human, including nice ‘cosmic’ children that would lead the New Age. Di Mambro’s daughter Emmanuelle was one of these cosmic children. He also claimed she would be the new Messiah, and that she was conceived without him and her mother having sex.

Murders and ‘Transits’

Trigger warning: Further reading contains child murder, murder and suicide.

Di Mambro’s son Elie discovered that the divine messages his father received were faked by special effects. He told members of the OTS. This led to 15 members leaving. Some members believed the visions were real, and some members had doubts about Di Mambro’s claims, but still believed in the goals of the OTS. This was also the period that the term ‘transit’ was introduced to the members of the OTS. It was used to describe the voluntary departure from the current world to reach a new world. The OTS believed that it was needed to enter a higher spiritual plane before the world ended to be able to get to this new world. OTS members initially thought the transit meant a change in conciousness. It is unknown when the OTS-members were told it literally meant leaving this world by dying and a ‘transit’ did not involve a spaceship or UFO.

Di Mambro started planning the ‘transits’ in 1993. To mythologize the cult, he wrote letters to public figures and destroyed most of the groups documentation, so no evidence was left. But then… the siege at Waco happened. Swiss police later found audio of a conversation between Jouret and Di Mambro, talking about Waco. Di Mambro commented that ‘People have beaten us to the punch, you know‘, to which Jouret replied ‘Well, yeah. Waco beat us to the punch‘. Di Mambro answered ‘In my opinion, we should have gone six months before them. What we will do will be even more spectacular‘. Internal texts from this time, found later, shows the state of mind of the cults members and their leaders: ‘Do you understand what we represent? We are the promise that the R[osy] C[ross] made to the Immutable. We are the Star Seeds that guarantee the perennial existence of the universe, we are the hand of God that shapes creation. We are the Torch that Christ must bring to the Father to feed the Primordial Fire and to reanimate the forces of Life, which, without our contribution, would slowly but surely go out. We hold the key to the universe and must secure its Eternity.

A fire destroyed a house in Morin Heights, Quebec, on October 4th 1994. In the house, owned by Di Mambro, the burned remains of two people were found. They were later identified as Collette Rochat and Jerry Genoud, two members of the OTS. Two days later, in the same house in a closet, police found the bodies of two adults and a baby. Autopsies later showed that the two adults were Tony Dutoit, his wife Suzanne Robinson and their infant son Christopher Emmanuel Dutoit (3 months). They all had been stabbed to death, before the fire, by two other OTS members. It was later revealed that Di Mambro had told the cult that baby Christopher Emmanuel was the antichrist (due to him being named Emmanuel, Di Mambro saw this as a challenge to his daughter Emmanuelle’s status as the new Messiah). Collette and Jerry, the other bodies found in the Morin Heigths’ house, ignited the fire and died there willingly.

Twelve hours later, across the world, in Cheiry, Switzerland, another house was on fire… Inside the firemen discovered a gruesome sight. The walls were full of mirrors and the windows were concealed behind thick crimson curtains. On the floor, 23 dead bodies were arranged in the shape on the sun (like the spokes of a wheel). Most were wearing the ceremonial costumes of the OTS. Autopsy showed that 19 of 23 died by gunshot wounds to the head and some were found with plastic bags covering their face.

Later that same day, yet another farmhouse was reported to be on fire in Granges-sur-Salvan, Switzerland. It was owned by… the OTS. Inside, 25 people were found dead, all reportedly from an overdose of drugs. Among these 25 bodies, the authorities found the bodies of Joseph Di Mambro, his daughter, Luc Jouret and the two people that were suspected of killing the Dutoit family in Canada.

A year later, in December 1995, another 16 bodies were found in France. They were also arranged in the shape of the sun. All were shot.

The house in Quebec were in 1997 5 people were found dead (from

In 1997, a fire broke out in a house in Quebec. When firefighters arrived, three children (13, 14 and 16) claimed that their parents had drugged themselves and had died. The parents had wanted to drug the children too, but they managed to escape. In the house, 5 corpses were found. So, in total, 74 members of the OTS died, possibly by suicide. However, since the method of death was mostly drugging, asphyxiation or shooting, there is no real way to know what happened and if these death really were murders. After an extensive police investigation, the consensus was that most of the dead at Cheiry were murdered, while most at Granges-sur-Salvan died from suicide.

The OTS seems to have survived and is believed to still have active members. The have not been open about their activities lately, but then again, they are a secret sect…


Kidnapped in Los Angeles, the murder of Marina Habe

December, 1968. Marina Habe, 17, was back home in Los Angeles for the holidays. She had spent Christmas with her mother Eloise and on the night of December 29th was now spending the night of December 29th with friends. Around 3:15 Marina left to drive to her mother’s West Hollywood home.

Marina Elizabeth Habe was born in 1951 to Hans Habe and Eloise Hardt. Her father, a Jewish-Hungarian writer, had fled Europe due to World War II. Hans and Eloise, an Hollywood actress, were married in 1948. They quickly realized the marriage was not a succes and divorced. Soon after that, Hans moved to Switzerland, leaving Marina in the care of her mother Eloise.

Eloise Hardt

After graduating from high school Marina attended the University of Hawaii to work on an arts degree. Her dream was to become an actress like her mother.

The kidnapping

That night of December 29th in 1968, Eloise was awoken by sounds from a car engine. Marina’s car was parked in her drive way, but an unknown black car was right next to it. It looked like there were multiple people in the car. Eloise saw a young man in his 20’s running towards the unknown car yelling ‘Let’s GO!’. The vehicle sped away, leaving behind a confused Eloise. There was no sign of Marina.

Marina Habe

Eloise called the police immediately. Marina’s father Hans Habe, a writer living in Switzerland at the time with his 6th wife, traveled to Los Angeles as quickly as he could. The police started an investigation, working with the assumption that Marina had been kidnapped from her mothers driveway. They examined Marina’s car and found that the hand brake had been pulled with a great deal of force, which led them to believe that someone else had been in her car. An extensive ground search and search by helicopter was started, but there was no sign of Marina. Eloise and Hans hoped there would be a request for ransom, but the kidnappers never contacted them.


On January 1st, a couple walking down the famous Mulholland Drive noticed a purse lying in the bushes. Inside were Marina’s credit cards and some cash. The police concluded the motive for the kidnapping was not money or robbery, as the cash was still in Marina’s purse. Later that day, a man walking his dog around the same area found Marina’s body off the road. She had been placed in a ravine covered with foliage.

Marina’s body was fully clothed, but she was missing one shoe. It was found nearby. An old motorcycle frame was also found near her body. An autopsy found multiple knife wounds, one of which to her throat. Two different knives were used in the attack. The autopsy also showed bruising to her face and neck, but no defense wounds to the rest of her body. There was no evidence of sexual assault at the autopsy, the coroner’s report stated that she probably had consensual sex recently (most likely with one of the friends she spent her evening with). The coroner concluded that Marina had bled to death. The timing of her death is unknown, conflicting reports exist wether she was killed right after her kidnapping or that she was kept alive.

Marina was buried at Holy Cross cemetery in Los Angeles. The priest leading her funeral said: ‘We wonder about a society, the products of which can be… capable of such heinous crimes. There you have the perfect formula for bitterness, resentment, hatred, perhaps despair. This we must guard against. ‘

Marina’s parents Eloise and Hans at her funeral

The autopsy report led police to conclude that at least two people were involved in Marina’s murder. It was never determined if the motorcycle frame that was found near Marina’s body was related to her murder. There were some motorcycle gangs in California at the time, but there was no evidence that they had any involvement in Marina’s murder.

Involvement of the Manson Family?

A theory often connected to her murder is that the Manson Family was to blame. A former member of the Family has claimed that they knew Marina. There is no evidence however of any connection between Marina and the Manson Family. Charles Manson was at a New Years Eve party thrown by members of the band the Mamas and the Papas, so has a solid alibi for the evening of Marina’s kidnapping.

The Manson Family did run an illegal car and motorcycle shop where they sold stolen parts. Could this be a, albeit very small, connection to the motorcycle frame found in the ravine next to Marina’s body? When Mark Glen Wats, a supplier of stolen parts to the Manson Family, was murdered, his body was also dumped in a ravine next to Mulholland Drive, just like Marina. Coincidence or not?


In November 1969, 19 year old Reet Jurvetson was found murdered in a ravine of Mulholland Drive. She had also been stabbed and bled to death. Could she have been murdered by the same murderer as Marina? Or were they found in similar circumstances that were not related? Want to know more about Reet Jurvetson’s story? Her murder was covered on our instagram page, click here to read it.

Reet Jurvetson

The murder of Marina Habe was never solved. No suspects have ever been openly named by police. Eloise Hardt died in 2017 at the age of 99 without knowing who killed her daughter. Before she died she said this about her daughters death to CBC’s the fifth estate; ‘The more I dwell on it, the sicker I get. So I stay as far away from it as I can. But I sure as hell would like to know what happened to my daughter. I’m only staying alive so I can get some answers.’



An Angel of Death: Dutch nurse Frans Hooijmaijers

The Good Samaritan. That’s what his colleagues called Frans Hooijmaijers. As a nurse, he would place statues of the Virgin Mary next to patients’ beds, light candles and pray for them, which earned him his biblical nickname. Frans claimed that he could accurately predict when patients would die, a gift he supposedly received from God. His predictions, however, had another source…

Frans Hooijmaijers was born in 1935 in Kerkrade in the Netherlands. He was overweight as a child and was born with a cleft lip, so he was often the target of bullies. After his father died when he was young, Frans had developed a strong bond with his mother, who favored him over his siblings. In 1960, Frans joined the order of Saint Joseph and settles into a monastery in the south of the Netherlands. Whilst he is in charge of the sick ward in the monastery, Frans realizes he wants to become a ‘real’ nurse and leaves the order to pursue this dream.

Frans Hooijmaijers

Frans started working at the Lückerheide Clinic in 1970. His main ward was the Nightingale, mostly inhabited by elderly patients with cognitive problems, like dementia. He was infamous among his coworkers due to his obsessive cleanliness, his devotion to Catholicism and his supposed gift of predicting the timing of death of the patients in his care.

Frans was head nurse of the Nightingale ward for 5 years. In those 5 years 325 people died on just that ward. Of these, 116 died in 1974-1975. In comparison, a total of 78 people died on the 5 wards where Frans did not work in the same time span. No one from the clinic raised concerns, even though it was rumored among coworkers that ‘ where Frans goes, death follows’. However, the family of one of the deceased did.

Mrs. Braams, 89, died in August of 1975 in unusual circumstances. Her concerned family filed a complaint about her untimely death to the hospital where she died. The investigation that followed led to Frans. He was arrested by police on the 14th of August, 1975. During a search of his home, investigators find jewelry of multiple deceased former patients. Frans seems to have given some of the possessions of his dead patients to his mother Maria. After a visit to her, police find that her second husband was admitted to a care home being partially blind and disabled. The cause of this? His lovely wife had added ratweed, which contains arsenic, to his toast, cabbage and soup. Her motive? It was suggested by the prosecution that the victim took too much attention away from Frans and Maria (or Frans himself?), felt her husband was getting in the way of their ‘special bond’. Maria was arrested and sentenced to 8 months (!) and psychiatric treatment. Her lawyer claimed in her defense that Maria knew that ratweed could kill animals, but never realised it was toxic to humans…

After investigating all 325 deaths during Frans’s time on the Nightingale, in 259 there were doubts about the exact cause of death. Frans admitted to police that he had injected 15 patients with an overdose of insulin and diazepam, leading to their deaths. He claimed his motive was compassion and declared ‘I wanted to put the old ones out of their misery. I wanted to give them peace’. The psychiatric report paints a different picture of Frans: ‘No one feels that he is fulfilling a calling of some sort. His only answer to trouble is to inject. People shouldn’t be annoying or a nuisance’. It was also determined that his IQ was 93, which seems too low to function well as a head nurse.

Before his murder trial, Frans retracted his confession, claiming to be only guilty of giving patients normal doses of medication without permission of a doctor. He rationalized this behaviour by claiming he only did so when there were no doctors present to help patients that were restless or in pain. Frans also claimed to be against euthanasia and that it was ‘never his intention to kill a patient’.

In 1977, Frans Hooijmaijers was found to be guilty of murder in 5 cases. However, prosecutors thought he could be responsible for as much as 259 deaths. Frans was sentenced to 18 years in prison. He was released in 1987 and died from natural causes at age 70 in 2006.



‘My days are numbered’: Exposing Australia’s dirtiest cops

In the early morning of February 7th, 1986, a man was walking his dog in Centennial Park in Sydney, Australia. He looked over the calm pond and noticed something strange. He saw what looked like a body floating in the water and called the police. The police soon arrived and rowed out to the body to drag it out of the water. To their shock, they recognized her immediately as Sallie-Anne Huckstepp (31).

The police standing over the body of Sallie-Anne

Sallie-Anne was born in December 1954 and went to school in Sydney. She got married at 17 to Bryan Huckstepp. Bryan was addicted to heroin and asked Sallie-Anne to do sexwork to pay for heroin. Eventually, Sallie-Anne developed a heroin addiction too. In 1981, she met Warren Lanfranchi, a heroin dealer who worked with Arthur ‘Neddy’ Smith. Smith was a self-confessed drug-dealer and robber, who led a gang of other criminals.

Later in 1981, Lanfranchi robbed another heroin dealer and in this process fired shots at a police officer. What Lanfranchi did not know, is that this heroin dealer was under police protection. When he and Sallie-Anne realised this fact, they feared for their lives. Lanfranchi asked Neddy Smith to make a deal with the involved police officer to get him cleared of the shooting and robbery. Neddy Smith complied and made a deal for the officer and Lanfranchi to meet. Lanfranchi went to this meeting and was shot twice by the police officer, killing him instantly.

Lanfranchi’s body in the street where he was shot by Rogerson

The police officer in question, Roger Rogerson, claimed self-defence as, according to Rogerson, Lanfranchi had tried to shoot him. Rogerson was commended for his bravery in this situation. Rogerson had joined the police in 1958 and had a good reputation. He was even named as possibly being on the list for the next police commisioner. In November 1981 a police inquest concluded that Rogerson had acted in the line of duty in attempting to arrest Lanfranci and killing him when he saw the gun. However, they did not believe his claim that he shot him in self-defence. Why?

Two nearby residents had heard the shooting and testified. Rogerson claimed he had shot Lanfranchi twice, in quick succession. But… Mary McElhone and Jane Healy had both heard that there was a longer time between the first shot and the second shot. The second shot was the one that killed Lanfranci, as it was a shot to the head. Jane testified: ‘It was the first time I realised police could lie. He lied. I know he lied‘. This was the first time the public saw cracks in Rogerson’s carefully crafted professional image.

Roger Rodgerson

Sallie-Anne, then 26 years old, was waiting for Lanfranchi to return home from the meeting. When he did not, she already knew what had happened. Two weeks later, she went to the police headquarters with her father and a lawyer. She claimed that Rogerson had killed Lanfranchi and had stolen the money that he had brought to settle their involvement in the robbery and shooting (10,000 Aus dollars). Sallie-Anne also told them that Lanfranchi left the house unarmed as he left his gun at home. As a sexworker and heroin addict, Sallie-Anne had been aware for years that the police were firmly involved in the criminal world and that Rogerson was the one at the top. Sallie-Anne also told the police that she had been paying the police to not arrest her during her time as a sexworker. Her statement reads: ‘While operating as a prostitute, I made regular payments to members of the vice squad over 10 years. I have been involved in a number of transactions which I referred to in my statement which have involved substantial payment to members of the drug squad and other detectives relating to drug matters. I believe that the New South Wales Drug Squad and the Armed Hold-Up Squad are both totally corrupt and that they feed on the very activities which they are supposed to stop‘.

Sallie-Anne being interviewed by different media

Sallie-Anne did not leave it at a statement to the police, she went to the media. She famously gave an interview to Ray Martin on the Australian tv-programme 60 Minutes, coming across as an honest and engaging woman. She said to Ray Martin about waiting for Lanfranchi: ‘I kissed him at the door and asked him what time he thought he’d be back. He said if he wasn’t home by 6 o’clock, I would know he’d been killed.‘ Sallie-Anne knew her life would be in danger after this interview. When asked about her reasons to tell her story, she quietly spoke: ‘When the police become judge, jury and executioner, then somebody has to speak. Somebody has to come forward. Somebody has to start somewhere and stop it. Everybody is entitled to justice‘.

After the 60 minutes interview, Sallie-Anne became an author and worked briefly as a journalist. Unfortunately, public interest faded and Sallie-Anne dissapeared out of the public eye. She also started using heroin again. It seems that Sallie-Anne knew her time was up. She had asked her estranged husband in a letter if he would take care of their daughter if ‘things went wrong‘. Sallie-Anne was dating David Kelleher at that time (1985), he was also a drugdealer. He was then arrested for importing heroin. Follwing his arrest, Sallie-Anne started a relationship with a police officer, Peter Parker Smith. Kelleher later claimed that Sallie-Anne told him she was using Peter Parker Smith to get information that would be useful at Kelleher’s trial.

On the evening of the 6th of February 1986, five years after the murder of Lanfranchi, Sallie-Anne received a call. She then quickly left the house, telling her roommate she would be back in 10 minutes. She did not come back. Her body was found the next morning and it was concluded she had been strangled and drowned.

Neddy Smith was the prime suspect in the murder of Sallie-Anne. The police could not find evidence linking him to the murder. Rogerson had an alibi, he was drinking at a club with a police prosecutor, but the police believed that he had ordered the murder of Sallie-Anne. They just could not prove it… Rogerson reacted on television to Sallie-Anne’s murder with:’I was shocked when I learned that Sallie-Anne Huckstepp had been murdered here in Centennial Park. I think that’s because she was a very attractive and a good-looking, little bird, but she got a lot of sympathy from different people, including members of the media and the public, but she really was just a typical, common prostitute‘.

The case went cold, until, years later, Neddy Smith was in prison for the murder of tow truck driver Ronnie Flavell and the shooting of Harvey Jones, an brothel owner. Smith confessed to a cell mate to strangeling and drowning Sallie-Anne. Smith claimed that he strangled Sallie-Anne for 6 minutes and then stood on her back to make sure she drowned. He also said strangling someone is ‘the hardest thing in the world…but the most satisfying thing I ever did in my life‘. His statements were recorded on police tapes, because his cell was bugged and his cell mate instructed to chat to him. DNA-testing was done on the body of Sallie-Anne and material found under her fingernails was sent for testing.

Smith was tried for the murder of Sallie-Anne. He pleaded not guilty and claimed that he was celebrating his wedding anniversary the night she had been murdered. No evidence revealing the identity of the murderer was found at the crime scene. The DNA found under Sallie-Anne’s fingernails could belong to 3% of the population, including Smith. Smith claimed that he knew he was being recorded in his cell, and that he claimed that he killed her to generate publicity for the book that was being written about him, called Catch and Kill Your Own. Constable Peter Smith, that was having a relationship with Sallie-Anne at the time of her death, testified that she had said that she was scared that Neddy Smith and Rogerson would try to kill her. Neddy Smith was acquitted of Sallie-Anne’s murder in 1999. He later claimed in a interview with a journalist that Sallie-Anne had been murdered on the orders of Rogerson, because she kept ‘bugging him’. He also said that the man responsible for the murder had never been arrested and is not in jail.

Neddy (Arthur) Smith leaving court after the acquittal

Neddy Smith turned into a police informer when he was convicted to life in prison. He testified at the Independent Commission Against Corruption about corrupt police officers that helped him carry out robberies. However, he did not name Roger Rogerson.

Suprisingly, Rogerson was only fired from the police force 2 months AFTER the death of Sallie-Anne for police misconduct, including improper association with criminals. He denied that he had anything to do with Sallie-Anne’s murder. In 1995, a Royal Commission investigated police corruption and named Rogerson as one of the central corrupt officers. Rogerson was not convicted of any charge until 1999, earning him the very fitting nickname ‘Roger the Dodger‘. He was convicted of perverting the course of justice and lying to police commissions. In 2016, Rogerson was convicted to life in prison for the murder of another drug dealer, Jamie Gao. He lost his appeal in 2021 and is now still in prison.

Neddy Smith is also still in prison and was diagnosed with Parkinsons disease. In the Daily Telegraph, former NSW Police Assistant Commissioner John Laycock describes him as a ‘broken-down old man‘.

Sallie-Anne Huckstepp

And so, finally, all the claims made by Sallie-Anne were offcially declared to be the full truth. No one has ever been convicted of her murder. Sacha Huckstepp, Sallie-Anne’s daughter who was 12 at the time of her murder, is an actress and a succefull casting agent in Sydney.

Did you know about this story and the bravery of Sallie-Anne?



The monster of Marcinelle

Marc Dutroux was born in 1956 to two Belgian teachers and grew up in Congo. He was the eldest of 5 children. His parents weren’t very happy together. His mother, Jeannine, got accidentaly pregnant with him when she was 20 years old. She knew Dutroux’s father, Victor, for only two months at that time. To not lose her job as a teacher, she married Victor. Victor was decribed as ‘strange’ and was not well liked by colleagues. He was let go from several jobs in the Congo, and moved his family back to Belgium in 1960 after he couldn’t find new work.

A former neighbour remembered Victor as ‘uncaring. He never helped his wife. Only the best was good enough for him, but that did not inlcude his wife or his children’. The apple does not fall far from the tree… One of Marc Dutroux’s sisters says Dutroux was very similar to their father, always demanding his own menu for dinner and his own room, while the other 4 children shared a room. Victor and Jeannine divorced in 1971.

Dutroux grew up to become an elektrician. He was mostly unemployed, stealing and dealing drugs to make money. He married for the first time at 22. This marriage resulted in two children. His ex-wife accused him of abuse during their divorce in 1985.

Marc Dutroux

In 1988 Dutroux married Michelle Martin. They had one child together before they wed, and had two more children after. This might sound like a happy family life, but you could not be farther from the truth. In 1989, both Dutroux and Martin were convicted of the rape of 5 minors, all girls. Dutroux received 13 years in prison, while Martin received 5 years. They were both released early in 1992 due to good behaviour, despite a negative advice from the prison and a letter from Dutroux’s own mother not to release him.

Michelle Martin

In the years after his release, Dutroux acquired 7 houses, most of them vacant. His house in Marcinelle was his main residence and in the basement he started to construct a dungeon. It was hidden behind a massive fortified door with shelves on the outside to conceal it. The dungeon itself was small, measuring 2,15 meters in length (7 feet), less than a meter wide (3 feet) and 1,64 meters high (5.3 feet).

The fortified door to the dungeon

On the 9th of August 1996 Laetitia Delhez (14) was kidnapped by Dutroux while on her way home from the swimming pool. A witness saw the abduction of Laetitia and remembered part of the number plate of the white van she was taken in. Meanwhile, Laetitia was taken to Dutroux’s house and placed in the dungeon in the basement. But she was not alone. Dutroux had kidnapped Sabine Dardenne (12) 77 days before and had kept her in the dungeon ever since.

Dutroux and Martin were arrested on August the 13th, because of the license plate witness. A search of all their houses did not show any signs of the girls. Two days after their arrest both Martin and Dutroux confessed to taking Sabine and Laetitia and Dutroux then led police to the basement. Both girls were found alive and reunited with their families.

Sabine and Laetitia reunited with their families

But… Laetitia and Sabine were not the first girls Dutroux had kidnapped.

On June 24th in 1995, Dutroux had abducted Julie Lejeune (8) and Mélissa Russo (8). The friends were last seen waving at cars from an bridge across a highway. It is thought that they were kept for 9 months in the cellar dungeon of Dutroux’s house in Marcinelle. On the 22nd of August, An Marchal (17) and Eefje Lambrecks (19) were kidnapped while camping in Ostend. They were probably abducted by Dutroux and an accomplice, Michel Lelièvre. Since Julie and Mélissa were already in the dungeon, Dutroux chained An and Eefje to a bed in his house. His wife Martin was well aware of everything that was happening to these girls. It is thought An and Eefje were killed several weeks later.

In late 1995 Dutroux was arrested and convicted of stealing luxury cars. He was in custody until March 1996. During this time Martin lived in the house where Julie and Mélissa were imprisoned in the cellar. While Dutroux was in jail, Martin did not feed them once. She later claimed she was too scared to go down to the basement. It is likely that Mélissa and Julie died from starvation during this time.

After his arrest in 1996, Dutroux told the police where they could find the buried remains of all the girls. The body of one of Dutroux’s supposed accomplices, Bernard Weinstein, was found buried as well. Dutroux claimed he had killed Weinstein because he had let Julie and Méllissa die.

There was public outcry in Belgium in the months after Dutroux’s arrest, when facts about the case began to appear in the media. The police had searched Dutroux’s house on December 13th and December 19th, after his arrest on the car thefts. Julie and Mélissa were alive in the dungeon during both searches, but were not found. One officer did later claim he heard children crying. Dutroux’s mother wrote another letter to police telling them she suspected her son of holding girls captive. Police also confiscated home videos in an earlier search of Dutroux’s home, which showed him building the secret dungeon. However, these videos had not been viewed by any of the officers, if they had, An and Eefje maybe could have been saved.

The examining magistrate and judge in the Dutroux investigation was removed from the case after he attented a fund-raising dinner for the families of the victims of Dutroux, which affected his impartiality. He ate spaghetti and received a pen as a gift. In the media, this was dubbed the ‘spaghetti affair’ and his removal from the case also sparked national outrage.

To show their outrage, to protest the mistakes made by authorities during the investigation and to support the victims and their family, the White March was organised in Brussels. On the 20th of October 1996 around 300.000 people marched trough the center of Brussels carrying or wearing something white. White was meant to be a symbol of hope.

The White March in October 1996

In April of 1998, Dutroux managed to escape during a transfer to the court house. He overpowered one of his guards, taking his gun in the process. Luckily, he was caught a few hours later when he was spotted in a forest by forester Stéphane Michaux.

The trial against Dutroux, Martin and Lelièvre started in March 2004. He stood trial for the kidnapping of 6 girls and Weinstein (probable accomplice), for the murder of Weinstein, An and Eefje. Dutroux confessed to the abductions and sexual assault of An, Eefje, Sabine and Laetitia, but claimed Julie and Mélissa were kidnapped by someone else (business man Michel Nihoul). Dutroux also claimed he was not responsible for the murder of any of the girls. He named people in a paedophile network as the killers. This claim of the excistence of a paedophile network was investigated. No evidence was found to support this theory. However, a lot of people still belive Dutroux did not act alone. Sabine testified during trial and told the court that she only saw Dutroux during her captivity. In june 2004, Dutroux was convicted of life imprisonment, Martin of 30 years and Lelièvre of 25 years.

Martin was released from prison in 2012, under great protest of the victims, their families and other Belgian citizens. She first went to live with nuns in a cloister, and now lives with a former judge (and apparently studies law…). Dutroux has asked for early release in 2013 and 2019, both were denied based on the fact that psychiatrists assessed Dutroux as a danger for society when released.

Sabine Dardenne wrote a book about her experience, called ‘J’avais douze ans, j’ai pris mon vélo et je suis partie à l’ècole‘ (I was twelve and rode my bike to school).

Sabine Dardenne and her book

Laetitia Delhez is living her life out of the media spotlight and is a mother.

Laetitia Delhez
Julie Lejeune on the right and Mélissa Russo on the left

After the disappearance of his daughter Julie, Jean-Denis Lejeune became an political activist. He is active in the local council.

Gino Russo, Mélissa’s father, and his wife were both also active in politics, but are now out of the spotlight of the media. Her mother, Carine Russo wrote a book about her daughter, called ‘14 months‘.

An Marchal and Eefke Lambrecks

An and Eefje were both members of a drama club and liked theater. Paul Marchal, An’s father, started a political party, but wasn’t elected. Jean Lambrecks, Eefje’s dad, is at every hearing pertaining to the case.

Remember An Marchal, Eefje Lambrecks, Mélissa Russo and Julie Lejeune and support their families and Sabine Dardenne and Laetitia Delhez.



Hi! Welcome to the Archive!

It’s so nice to see you here. I originally started with an Instagram account, where I post short stories about true crime. On this website I plan to post my longer stories, that will not fit in a shorter Instagram post.

Why am I doing this?

First of all, I like to read, watch or listen to crime related stories. It intrigues me to see why people do such extreme things to other people. Human behavior is fascinating to me in all its forms.

Secondly, true crime is highly relevant in our lives today. It is everywhere and feels like a puzzle I need to solve. I like to research these stories and report the most truthful version on this website.

Good to know: I do not believe in glorifying the perpetrators of the crimes I talk about in my posts. I am not their fan and do no want to make them ‘famous’. My stories will focus on the victims of the crimes.

Okay! Down the rabbit hole we go…

The curious case of the Somerton Man (+ update september 2022!)

Someone walking along Somerton beach in Adelaide in December 1948 found a man slumped against a seawall. They first thought he must be asleep, but he was very still. Too still. The police were alerted and started an investigation. They found the man lying with his head resting against the wall, with his legs stretched out and his feet crossed. He looked like he was sleeping.

The man was dressed in a suit and tie. An unlit sigaret was found tucked behind his right ear and another half-smoked sigaret was lying on his coat. His pockets contained a used bus ticket from Adelaide to St. Leonards (Glenelg), an unused train ticket from Adelaide to Henley Beach, a aluminum comb (thought to be American), a half-eaten pack of Juicy Fruit gum, a packet of Army Club filled with Kensiats brand sigarets and a Bryant & May matchbox. Nothing else was found that could point to the man’s identity.

A police photo of the Somerton man

The night before a couple saw a man in the same location moving an arm, and another couple didn’t see him move, but did think his positioning changed. Both couples assumed the man was asleep or very drunk.

The autopsy showed that the man was in great physical condition. The pathologist, John Burton Cleland, described the man as of ‘Britisher’ appearance and between 40-45 years old. His hands were not calloused and his toes were wedge shaped, like a dancer or when wearing boots with pointed toes. His calf muscles were highly developed, also like a ballet dancer. All the labels in his clothes were removed and he was not wearing a hat. His dental records did not match any in the system. The pathologist concluded after the autopsy ‘I am quite convinced the death could not have been natural … the poison I suggested was a barbiturate or a soluble hypnotic‘. The body was embalmed on the 10th of December after they had failed to identify him and find his next of kin.

In January of 1949, staff found a brown suitcase in the station’s cloakroom that had not been picked up by it’s owner. It had been checked in on the 30th of November, which led the police to believe the Somerton man might be this lost owner. The case contained a red dressing gown, red pair of slippers, pajamas, underpants (4 pair), a shaving kit, brown pair of trousers, a screwdriver, a table knife altered to be short and sharp, scissors with sharpened points and a stenciling brush. A thread card with orange thread was also found, the brand Barbour wasn’t available in Australia at the time. Police had seen this thread before. It was used to repair a hole in the pocket of the trousers the dead man had been wearing. All the tags had been removed, again, but now the name T. Keane was found on a tie and a laundry bag. Police believed this name could have been left on purpose (to confuse the investigation) or by accident. No-one named T. Keane or Keane was found to be missing.

A inquest by the coroner Thomas Cleland concluded that seeing as the mans shoes were very clean, he was murdered elsewhere and the crime scene at Somerton had been staged. This also explained why no vomit had been found at the scene. However, this did not align with the sightings of the man moving around on the night of the 30th of November. Cleland suggested that the witnesses might have seen someone else. The witnesses denied this, claiming the dead man was the man they saw. Cleland, the coroner, stated ‘I would be prepared to find that he died from poison, that the poison was probably a glucoside and that it was not accidentally administered; but I cannot say whether it was administered by the deceased himself or by some other person‘. After this inquest a plaster cast was made of the man’s head and he was buried in Adelaide’s West Terrace Cemetery.

The gravestone of the Somerton man

At the time of the inquest, a tiny piece of paper was found in the pocket that was sewn closed. The words ‘ Tamán Shud’ were printed on it. After investigation by police, it was found to mean end or finished and was printed on the last page of a book called ‘Rubaiyat’ by Omar Khayyam. A photo of this piece of paper was released to the public. Miraculously, a man came forward with an 1941 edition of a translation of the Rubaiyat. How this man, that remains unidentified, found this book is unclear. The most common story is that the man found the book in his unlocked parked car (which was parked in Glenelg, the town the used bus ticket was to). Tests showed that the piece of paper was ripped out of this copy of the Rubaiyat. The back of the book showed lines, as if someone had written on a piece of paper on top of it. Police thought these lines represented some kind of code. Code experts were asked to decipher it, but were unsuccesful.

The text in the back of the book ‘ Rubaiyat’

The back of the book also contained a phone number, belonging to Jessica Thomson, ‘Jo’. She lived in Moseley, Glenelg, about 400 meters (1300 ft) from where the Somerton man was found on the beach.

Jessica stated she did not know the man and why he would have her phone number. She then asked police to not record her name, as she was a nurse and it would be detrimental to her reputation to be associated with such a case. Jessica also made a statement that she once owned a copy of the ‘Rubaiyat’ book , and had given it to an Army lieutenant Alf Boxall during the Second World War in 1945. Jessica moved to Melbourne and married after that. She stated that she received one letter from Boxall to which she only replied that she was now married.

The police suspected that Boxall might be the Somerton man. However, when they found Boxall alive and well in Sydney in 1949, his copy of the ‘Rubaiyat’ was complete, including the last page. On the front page Jessica had signed her name and written out a verse.

The copy of the Rubaiyat Jessica gave to Boxall

During the years, people have thought the Somerton man to be a spy. He was found just after World War II ended, the circumstances of his death are very suspicious and he remained unidentified.

In 2009, Professor Derek Abbott and his team tried to solve the case through DNA and by attempting to crack the code in the back of the book. They found that the autopsy files of 1948-49 are missing and that most of the physical evidence, like the suitcase, has been destroyed. A professor of anatomy (of the University of Adelaide) looked at images of the Somerton man. He concluded that the man’s ears are of a rare genetic variant in Caucasian people (seen in only 1-2%). Also, dentists found that the Somerton man had hypodontia, a genetic disorder that leads to missing teeth.

Abbott suspected that Jessica did know the Somerton man. On a photo of Jessica’s children, it can be clearly seen that her oldest son, Robin, has the genetic disorders of both the ears and teeth. The chances that that is coincidental are very slim.

Jessica had died in 2007. Her daughter Kate told the tv-show ’60 minutes’ that her mother confessed to her that she did know the Somerton man. She suggested that her mother taught English to immigrants and spoke Russian, but would not tell Kate how she learned it. Kate thought both her mother and the Somerton man might have been spies. Robin Thomson, Jessica’s eldest son, was a ballet dancer… He unfortunately died in 2009 and was cremated.

Robin’s widow Roma and their daughter Rachel were also interviewed on ’60 minutes’. They believed the Somerton man was Robin’s father, as he shared some striking physical characteristics with him. Rachel and her mother wanted the remains of the Somerton man exhumed, so that they could test his DNA. In April 2021 it was confirmed by police that the Somerton man’s body will be exhumed so that DNA testing can be tried. Derek Abbott, the professor who started a reinvestigation of this case in 2009, said: ‘I knew it would happen one day. It’s an enduring mystery here in South Australia. The public wants to know who this man was. He also has a family somewhere missing him from their family tree and they have a right to know. There are so many weird twists and turns in this case — so many unlikely things keep happening.’

So many weird twist and turns indeed. When Derek Abbott finally met Rachel Egan, the woman who he thought was the Somerton man’s granddaughter, they fell in love. They married 4 months after they met, and since then have had three children. So his investigation into the Somerton’s man is now… a family affair?

I will update when there is news after the Somerton man is exhumed and DNA tests are done. What do you think, is Robin’s father the Somerton man?

Update sept 2022: The Somerton man has been identified by DNA analysis! Scientists used hairs caught in the death mask made before the burial of the unidentified body to make a DNA profile. This profile was then used to construct a family tree. After a lot of research, scientist found that the DNA from the death mask could only belong to Carl (Charles) Webb, an electrical engineer from Melbourne. And other evidence matched also. His sister was married to Thomas Keane, which connects to the clothing from the suitcase of the Somerton man that was labeled with T. Keane. One question has now been answered, but the rest remain: What was Carl Webb doing in Adelaide? What happened to him? Was he murdered? Maybe one day we will get answers to these questions too, what do you think?


  6. Sept 2022: