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File photo of a Dutch police officer. Shutterstock/Dutchmen Photography

Dutch police find body of missing four-year-old boy as man arrested

The arrested man, Dave De K., regularly minded Dean Verberckmoes and his younger sister.

DUTCH POLICE LATE Monday discovered the body of a Belgian child, whose disappearance five days ago sparked a massive search spanning two countries.

The body of four-year-old Dean Verberckmoes was found in the southern Dutch Zeeland province after a man was arrested elsewhere in the Netherlands earlier during the day, police said.

“We thank everybody who helped and are sending condolences to his family,” they added.

Police said the body was discovered at Neeltje Jans, an island that forms part of the Oosterschelde flood barrier and is popular with Dutch tourists.

Police earlier on Monday also sent out a so-called Amber Alert – issued in child abduction cases – with the description of the toddler and a picture.

The alert came after police arrested a 34-year-old Belgian man in the town of Meerkerk, south of Utrecht, about 120 kilometres northeast of Neeltje Jans.

Verberckmoes was last seen in the Belgian city of Sint Niklaas near Antwerp on Wednesday in the company of the man, only identified as Dave De K., the NOS public broadcaster reported.

De K. regularly minded Dean and his younger sister, the toddler’s mother told the Belga news agency.

The man was supposed to take the child to his grandparents on Thursday and when that did not happen the mother reported him missing.

Dutch police launched a massive search after at became known that De K. and the toddler may be in the Netherlands.

“The police investigation pointed to a possible crime scene on Monday evening… and a police helicopter also joined the search,” Dutch police said.

“Around 10.00pm (9.00pm GMT) the lifeless body of a child was found,” police said.

© AFP 2022