DNA investigation to identify “Heulmeisje” finally starts

Police made a 3D model of the victim's face in 2006.
A 3D model of the victim's face made in 2006.

Over 45 years after the body of a girl was found at a car park on the A12, the public prosecutor has approved a DNA search of police data banks to try and establish her identity, local broadcaster RTV Utrecht reported.

The body of the girl, dubbed the “Heulmeisje” after the name of the car park near Maasbergen where she was left, was dug up nine years ago to extract DNA to be used in a search for possible genetic relationships.

No priority was given to the investigation, however, and it wasn’t until this month that the public prosecution office acquired permission from the court to make a start.

Police hope that relatives of the girl, who is thought to be aged between 13 and 15, will show up in a police database in the Netherlands.

The girl is thought to have lived part of her life in Germany but apart from a search in a missing persons database there, no German police databases were searched because of privacy restrictions.

Her body was found naked in a shallow grave near a roadside car park in 1976 where she had been dumped months earlier. Forensic examination showed the girl had lived in the Netherlands for a year around 1975. It also showed she had been living on a one-sided diet during that time which could point to extreme poverty but also abduction, experts said at the time.

Police think her death is the result of a crime, possibly murder or through neglect.

“Depending on the results of the DNA data bank probe, we will decide if we need to investigate further,” a spokesman for the prosecution office told the broadcaster.

“When we have gone through the whole process or if this has led to the identification of the girl we will come out with the information,” he said.


The Heulmeisje is also one of 22 cases covered in a joint Dutch, Belgian and German police campaign to try to identify 22 women who are believed to have been murdered in the last 50 years.

Details on each case have been made available on www.interpol.int/IM, showing facial reconstructions of some of the murdered women, as well as videos and pictures of jewellery and clothing which were discovered at sites where the women’s remains were abandoned.

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