Belgian Day Care Suspect Linked to 4th Slaying

By: Raf Casert AP
By: Raf Casert AP

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - The thin, young suspect with the enigmatic smile who is charged with three killings in Belgium's day care massacre was linked Monday to a fourth slaying - the slashing death of a 73-year-old grandmother on a remote farm.

And in his backpack, investigators found blueprints of the nearby Sunshine and Toddler's Land nurseries, a knife and an ax - promises of more violence to come against babies and toddlers had he not been caught.

"He knew where he had to go," prosecutor Christian Du Four said in the provincial town of Dendermonde, where three people were killed and 12 badly wounded Friday in an attack on a day care center.

In both cases, the attacks were carried out against society's most defenseless victims, and each time, a man left the scene by calmly riding away on a bicycle.

After refusing to speak and eat for three days, authorities put 20-year-old suspect Kim De Gelder on an energy-sustaining drip. He finally started talking to investigators on Monday, but revealed little.

"He speaks, but nothing about the facts. There is no motive, no confession, nothing at all," said Du Four.

So far, De Gelder faces three murder charges - a baby girl, a baby boy and a 54-year-old caregiver - and 12 attempted murder charges for the 10 children and 2 workers who had to have immediate operations to close their slashing wounds. He has not officially been charged yet with the fourth killing but the two cases files have been joined under the same inquiry judge.

"It appears exceptionally strange. On the one hand the old lady, on the other hand the babies. There is not a single link between the victims," said Du Four.

Witnesses said De Gelder entered the Fairyland nursery Friday saying only "I have a small question for you," then started slashing away.

A 16-year-old intern described the carnage on her blog Monday.

"We're quietly playing with the kids and suddenly we hear panic. We go see and Rita is full of blood, Hilda cries "there is someone with a knife!" Joyce De Landsheer wrote in the Cool-Dudes-Chillen blog.

She pushed toddlers outside, away from the attacker, and started calling police when she came face-to-face with him, his eyes smeared with black eyeliner. By that time he had killed a six-month-old boy, a nine-month-old girl and slashed 10 other babies. Two more adults were stabbed in addition to the slain day care worker.

"She feared she would be next, but for some reason, it was the end of the raid," said Walter Deygers, the director of De Landsheer's school. Instead the suspect calmly walked away, got on his bike and rode off before being arrested outside Dendermonde, some 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of Brussels.

Newspapers carried full-page pictures of a thin, longhaired suspect looking straight into the lens with an angelic smile on his face.

Belgian newspapers called him the "Joker" killer, a reference to the deranged "Batman" villain played by the late actor Heath Ledger. Investigators said it was not clear whether there was resemblance or intention to look that way but mascara was found in the suspect's backpack.

Belgians are still struggling to come grips with the attack. Some 6,000 marched silently Sunday, laying hundreds of bouquets and stuffed animals outside the day care center.

Other centers and schools reopened for a new week but many parents were still too anxious to let babies and children go. Four of the wounded children were still hospitalized Monday and funerals for the three killed in Dendermonde are set for Saturday.

The suspect has a court hearing on Tuesday.

"He slashed at everything he saw move," De Landsheer told the VRT television network.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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