Body Of Kidnapped Retail Tycoon Found
HAARLEM, Netherlands (AP) _ Police found the buried body of kidnapped Dutch retail tycoon Gerrit-Jan Heijn seven months after his abduction, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said today.
Heijn was kidnapped last Sept. 9 and shot through the head the same day. His body was exhumed in a forest near the town of Renkum in the eastern Netherlands on the instructions of his suspected killer, who was arrested Wednesday, according to spokesman Theo Bot.
The discovery ended the longest-running kidnap case in Dutch criminal history. The tycoon’s family had paid the kidnappers a $4 million ransom in a bid to win his release.
Heijn, who was 56 when he died, was vice president of Ahold, which owns the Netherlands’ largest chain of supermarkets as well as the Giant Food and Bi-Lo stores in the United States.
On Wednesday, authorities arrested a 45-year-old unemployed architect, his wife, his three children aged 17 to 25 and a house guest at the suspect’s home in the village of Landsmeer, 10 miles north of Amsterdam. The guest was released later.
According to Bot, the architect was found in possession of the murder weapon as well as a ransom worth more than $4.5 million paid for Heijn in a Nov. 27 drop.
Heijn was abducted on Sept. 9 while on his way to a dental appointment from his sprawling villa in Bloemendaal, an affluent suburb of this western Dutch city.
After the estimated $4 million in diamonds and cash was paid in November, nothing was heard from the kidnapped businessman or his abductors.
The kidnapping case was marked by lengthy and fruitless negotiations between the Heijn family and the abductors via advertisements published in various national newspapers. Police imposed a news blackout only a few days after Heijn was kidnapped at the request of the family.
On Oct. 14, after Heijn’s relatives had demanded a sign of life from the kidnap victim, the abductors mailed what appeared to be his little finger. At the time, it could not be established whether Heijn had been alive or dead when the finger was cut from his hand.
Stymied by the silence maintained by the abductors after the ransom drop, police staged a massive media blitz late December, when the authorities showed the scant evidence available in a nationally televised news conference.
That event triggered a flow of about 12,000 tips, which have been checked by the 40-strong detective force permanently assigned to the case.
The suspect’s house was kept under surveillance by detective teams for six weeks. Early Wednesday morning, heavily armed police raided the house, a small four-room, semi-detached building, surprising the suspects in their sleep.
The main suspect was identified by Dutch newspapers as Ferdi E. No immediate confirmation of his identity could be obtained from police.
The five suspects were being kept in police custody here pending charges, the reports said.