On Tuesday, Belgium opened a memorial garden at the location where the infamous serial killer Marc Dutroux held his young victims captive. Authorities in Charleroi demolished the ‘House of Horrors’ last year, where Dutroux tortured and raped children in a soundproof dungeon.
The parents of two of his victims, Julie Lejeune and Melissa Russo, will be present to formally inaugurate the tree-filled garden. The garden is adorned with a mural of a child watching a kite fly into the sky.
Now 66 years old, Dutroux received a life sentence in 2004 for crimes including murder, kidnapping, and rape in 1995 and 1996. His victims were girls and young women.
The unassuming red brick building in the Marcinelle suburb of Charleroi became infamous when Dutroux led the police to two abducted teenage girls, aged fourteen and twelve, who were huddled in the basement in August 1996. Incidentally, the basement has been preserved as it may still be useful in potential future investigations.
It was soon revealed that Dutroux had also kept eight-year-old Julie and Melissa captive. Their bodies were buried on a property in the village of Sars-la-Buissière. An autopsy revealed that they had been starved to death. The house where Julie and Melissa were held was also demolished this year.
The public shock turned to anger when it became apparent not only that the police had missed a series of clues but also that Dutroux had been released from prison in 1992 after serving only three years of a thirteen-year sentence for the kidnapping and rape of five girls.
Dutroux requested parole in 2020, but the request was denied when a psychiatric report concluded that he remained dangerous. His ex-wife Michelle Martin, found complicit, and another accomplice have already been released from prison.