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Police believe 22 women were murdered and need help to name them

The police in Belgium, Germany and Netherlands are seeking the public’s assistance to identify 22 women or girls they suspect of being murdered.

Between October 1976 and August 2019, bodies were found in three European countries.

In a public statement issued by the Netherlands Police, who initiated the appeal, Carina Van Leeuwen, Martin de Wit, stated that “most of the 22 victims were violently killed, while others had been abused or starved to death.”

The women’s identities are still unknown, in part because they likely come from other countries than the one where they were discovered.


It is possible that the bodies of these victims were left in our country to hinder criminal investigations.

Image: A woman found this tattoo on her left forearm. In June 1992, her body was found in the Groot Schijn River, Antwerp, Belgium. Picture: Interpol

Carolien Opdecam of the Belgian Police Force said, “We are searching for names.”

The identity of the victim is often key to solving a mystery.

Identification of some of the women who were murdered in specific areas of Eastern Europe may provide clues about the perpetrators.

Anja Allendorf of the German Police said: “In other investigations, the identification of the victim has ultimately led to the arrest a suspect.”

Operation Identify Me Through Interpol, a joint initiative of the police forces in all three countries, has been launched.

In September 1992, a suitcase containing a woman’s torso was discovered in an Amsterdam canal. Other body parts, including the victim’s legs, hands and feet were found elsewhere. Interpol Photo

For the first time, the international police group made some details about the so-called “black notices” that are used for gathering information and intelligence regarding unidentified corpses and determining the circumstances of the death public.

Interpol’s worldwide network of police forces circulates black notices internally.

Cold cases include the discovery of the remains of an unknown female in a bag found in the IJ River, Amsterdam, Netherlands. The remains were believed to be between 16-35 years of age.

Image: The reconstruction of the face of a woman, whose body was discovered in a forest north of Berlin in Germany in November 1998. She was wearing men’s clothes. Photo: Interpol

The Interpol site has details on each case, including videos and photos of items like jewellery and clothing that were found at the sites where the remains of victims were dumped.

This includes their estimated age, eye and hair color and other physical characteristics.

If you have any information, we encourage the public to contact your local national police force.

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This bracelet may belong to the victim whose body, wrapped in plastic, was discovered in Amstelveen in the Netherlands in January 1995. Photo: Interpol

Susan Hitchin is the coordinator of Interpol’s DNA Unit. She said that black notices enable law enforcement agencies to share information and collaborate across borders. This helps to bring closure to families of deceased persons and to bring criminals to justice.

The advancements in technology in the various fields of forensic identification have helped solve cold cases.


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