Body of woman who went missing in 1994 identified in Germany

Photo via Peter R. de Vries Foundation

The body of a woman who went missing in a Dutch town nearly 30 years ago has been found in Germany.

Maria van der Zanden was last seen on August 6, 1994, when she left her parents’ house in Putten, Gelderland, on her bicycle. Her family raised the alarm when the 22-year-old failed to return in the evening.

Police reopened the case last year after the Peter R. de Vries Foundation, set up by the late investigative journalist who specialised in cold cases, offered a €250,000 reward for information.

German police said in March that they had matched the missing woman’s details with an unidentified body that was found in the Möhnesee reservoir near Dortmund, around 240 km (160 miles) from Putten.

The body was buried nearby in a shallow grave and no DNA samples were taken, but police were able to use fingerprint records to identify the woman as Maria.

Family “overwhelmed”

Further investigations will be carried out to try to establish how she died. German police concluded at the time that she had taken her own life, but they have not ruled out the possibility that she may have been a victim of crime.

Her father, Ab van der Zanden, said: “We are overwhelmed by this news. After almost 30 years I finally know where my daughter is.

“There are still a lot of questions that we hope will be answered in the near future by the cold case team and the Foundation. Right now we just want to let this news sink in.”

The foundation said the €250,000 reward would not be paid out because the key piece of information came from the police.

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