Sint Niklaas, Belgium: 4-year-old Dean Verberckmoes was last seen by his mother on Wednesday, January 12, 2022.
On Wednesdays his mother, 39-year-old Elke Verberckmoes would return to the hospital she spent much of her time at receiving treatment for depression and her two children, Dean and another 7-year-old boy, would spent the night with their nanny, 34- year-old Dave De Kock, before being taken to their grandmother's home Thursday mornings.
"Dave would take care of my son, which he did every Wednesday, by the way," Elke told Danish news outlet HLN. "They got along very well and Dean considered him something of a 'cuddly uncle.' There was no indication that he had other plans this time."
On Sunday, after De Kock stopped responding to calls and texts in which he would allegedly provide excuses as to why Dean remained absent, Elke called the police to report that her son was missing.
"Dave was always polite and very good to the kids. We therefore do not understand why it has suddenly disappeared with the northern sun."
On Monday, January 17 an Amber Alert was issued for Dean and De Kock was arrested after a report was filed with police of someone " behaving suspiciously" in Meerkert, Netherlands.
Several hours later, after De Kock is said to have provided the police with a tip, officers recovered Dean's body on Neeltje Jans, an artificial island which houses a popular tourist destination. His body was said to have been recovered from between two boulders near the shoreline.
De Kock's girlfriend has also now been arrested. Her name and possible charges have not been released at this time.
More information about the man described as a "pillar of support" is coming out though, as it has been discovered that in 2008 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting 2-year-old Miguel van Kriekinge resulting in his death.
De Kock was released in 2018 and it is unclear if Elke knew of his previous conviction.
Currently, due to the crime spanning international borders, investigators are working to determine where the case will proceed.