The Hague: Dutch police said on Monday they had arrested a suspect in the murder of a young woman 25 years ago, tracking him down after an unprecedented drive to collect DNA samples.
Milica van Doorn, 19, was found dead on June 8, 1992, in a pond in the town of Zaandam, near Amsterdam, after she failed to come home from a birthday party. She had left shortly before midnight to take the bus home, but never arrived.
Tests showed she had been raped and brutally killed.
The 47-year-old suspect was arrested on Saturday, after police launched an appeal to take DNA from about 130 people.
The man, who is from Zaandam, is related to one of those who voluntarily gave samples to the police. The volunteer’s DNA was found to be similar to that discovered on the victim.
Samples then taken from the suspect proved to correspond “100 per cent to the DNA of the person who committed the crime”, Dutch police and the prosecution service said in a joint statement.
“It is the first time in the Netherlands that thanks to a large-scale DNA test we have found a suspect via a relative,” Bob Steensma, prosecutor for the North Holland area, told a press conference.
If the suspect is found guilty, this “cold case” will have been resolved following a 2012 law allowing such mass DNA collections, as well as the cooperation of about 130 men of Turkish-origin who lived in or were staying in the area in 1992 where the victim was found and voluntarily took part in the collection.
It was decided to take samples from people with Turkish origins after an analysis of the DNA found on the victim concluded the killer was “almost certainly a man with Turkish ancestors”, the police said on its website.
A witness had also reported seeing “a man singing, who looked Turkish, riding a bike in the direction” of the pond that evening, it added.
The suspect is in detention, and legal officials will decide this week whether he should be bailed or not.
Van Doorn’s family, which was informed of the arrest on Sunday, said they were “enormously relieved” and thanked the police and the Turkish community for their help.