Where Is Convicted Kidnapper And Murderer Marc Dutroux Now?

An alleged kidnapper, pimp, murderer, rapist, pedophile, car thief, and a human trafficker of children: Marc Dutroux is a notorious Belgian criminal with a laundry list of offenses stemming back to the 1990s, per Britannica. His name brings such disgust to Belgians that, following his crimes, about a third of people with the "Dutroux" last name changed it to avoid any association with an infamous pedophile and murderer.

In 1995, Marc Dutroux's mom contacted the police. She said that he had access to vacant houses, where he was hiding girls away. When police finally searched one of the homes in 1996, they discovered Dutroux's horrible secret: he'd kidnapped two 8-year-old girls who starved to death while he served a short stint in jail, according to The New York Times. In an unfathomable twist, Dutroux had instructed his wife to feed the girls and give them water, but later in court, she claimed that she was too afraid to go to where the girls were and see them. They were discovered buried in the garden. In another house, investigators found two more girls, 12 and 14, both still alive. 

Dutroux has inspired massive protests

Those weren't even his only victims: Marc Dutroux kidnapped and raped at least six girls, all in their teens or younger (per The New York Times). After he returned from the nearly four-month jail sentence, he buried the 8-year-olds, then immediately resumed kidnapping children, targetting the 12-year-old and 14-year-old who were rescued in 1996 (via BBC). The two girls were sexually abused and had been treated poorly by Dutroroux. The bodies of a 17 and 19-year-old victim were discovered buried in Dutroux's yard just a month later. Dutroux confessed to the kidnappings and sexual assaults but initially denied the murder charges, per the BBC. 

The handling of the Marc Dutroux case inspired an estimated  250,000 to 275,000 person march in 1996. People streamed through the streets of Brussels, Belgium to protest police blunders in the investigation and show support for Dutroux's young victims. There were also allegations of a cover-up on the part of law enforcement and government officials, some of whom were accused of being involved with Dutroux's child sex ring, per Britannica

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

He mailed his victims letters at the worst possible time

In 1998, Dutroux made a successful prison break — for three hours, that is (via Britannica). He was quickly returned to prison. The New York Times reports that a 2004 psychiatry examination called Dutroux among the most extreme examples of psychopathy they'd ever come across. The same year, Britannica reports, he was sentenced to life in prison on charges of rape, murder, and kidnapping. Dutroux qualified for prison release with an electronic tracking device monitoring him in 2013, but the courts turned down his request (per the Brussels Times).

In Belgium, in order to leave prison as he so desperately wants to, Dutroux needs to meet five criteria, three of which concern the wellbeing of the victims and their families, per BBC. He sent letters to the victims in 2018, and it did not go over well. One victim's parent called it a "publicity stunt," while another referred to his letter, delivered on the anniversary date of his child's funeral, as "moral torture." Other families suggested the courts could figure it out. Jean-Denis Lejeune, the parent of 8-year-old victim Julie Lejeune, posted the 44-page letter on Facebook. Reportedly, in the letter, Dutroux denied being responsible for the children's deaths.

Is Dutroux still a threat?

In 2019, according to The New York Times, Dutroux's lawyers argued that he actually wouldn't be a threat to those around him, and could be released after 23 years in prison. They asked if three psychiatrists could confirm the conclusion that Dutroux would be allowed to rejoin the public. Per the Brussels Times, Dutroux asked them to reevaluate his mental state and consider him for parole. 

But the ill-timed request was at the heart of the 2020 COVID-19 epidemic, when people were staying six feet apart and masking up. Dutroux wasn't permitted to see the necessary experts to determine the outcome of his request. Per The New York Times, Dutroux does not like being held in a 96-square-foot prison cell, which his lawyer contends will lead to additional mental health risks for Dutroux. De Standaard reports that Marc Dutroux really hopes to regain his freedom, but his legal team tells him that's pretty unlikely since he isn't exactly remorseful for what he did.

He doesn't feel guilty about his crimes

In his free time, Dutroux reads through his own files, watches TV, and plays video games on a Playstation (via De Standaard). Only time will tell if Dutroux will be able to leave prison. The New York Times reports that each time he is up for release, thousands of people create or sign online petitions in the hopes of keeping him behind bars. 

The families of victims also protest, too. The parents of Melissa Russo, one of the 8-year-olds who starved to death in Dutroux's basement, said he should never be released. The family's lawyer, Patricia van der Smissen, said, "Marc Dutroux is a rapist and a recidivist serial killer. He is incapable of expressing remorse, and his position hasn't changed," according to The New York Times. Per De Standaard, as a psychopath, his legal team says, Dutroux still apparently doesn't feel guilty about the murders, though he regrets that children died due to his actions.

Dutroux's house is going to be destroyed

Brussels Times reports that Dutroux's accomplice, Michel Lelièvre, and his ex-wife who was also involved with his crimes, Michelle Martin, were both sentenced to jail in connection with Dutroux's crimes. They have both been released from prison since. Meanwhile, Marc Dutroux is now 65 years old.

While Marc Dutroux remains in prison for the indefinite future, his house was torn down in June 2022 and will be turned into a memorial garden for his victims (per VRT NWS). According to Electricity City Magazine, the garden in Marcinell is expected to be finished by 2023. The cellar where Dutroux held his victims will remain untouched, per the wishes of the victim's families. However, the "Between Heaven and Earth" monument will feature plants and trees to symbolize life. The "House of Horror," full of terrible memories for the victims' families, will soon be permanently destroyed.