On May 7, the body of an unidentified male is found a little less than twelve kilometers from my home. Early morning walkers come upon the body and notify the police. To the police, it soon becomes clear that this is a case of suicide, and they work to identify the male, intending, undoubtedly, to inform the next of kin. It turns out to be Jeroen Denis, a 38 year old physical therapist who works in my town. He has hung himself. When the family is informed--including his ex-wife Iris van de Schuit--the police is informed that Denis is a father of two, Ruben and Julian, who were supposed to be with their father for the weekend. The kids are not at home, nor with family, and it soon becomes very clear that the boys--who are nine and seven years old--are missing, and if they are still alive, they need to be found--fast.

What follows are days of searches in the areas where Jeroen and the kids have been seen on the night of May 6. Their whereabouts are tracked by way of surveillance camera and eye-witness reports. Everyone, from volunteers to the army helps search for the boys, but to no avail. Fragmented reports come in: Denis at a gas station with his kids in the back of the car, a purchase receipt for tie down straps, reports of the nature of the divorce, and threats against his own life and that of his kids that Denis has allegedly made as the divorce went final and he lost most of his custodial rights.

On May 19th, Sunday, a passer-by notices something strange in a drainage tube--the little black hole on the bottom left of the picture above. He notifies the police, and police divers pull out two little bodies. They have been in the water for a long time, and it's impossible to identify them on sight, yet, their heights seem to match Ruben and Julian, and that evening, the police issue a press statement that the boys have been found. That drainage tube is bout 15 kilometers from my home.

Identification of the bodies is still underway, but the forensic investigation into the crime scene has been completed. Two little boys are dead, most likely murdered by their own father after a night of cross-country driving. Two boys--who went to school 900 meters from where I live--were strapped together and weighted down, then stuffed into a dark tube. I can only pray that their death came fast--the cause of death has not been released yet.

The boys leave behind an inconsolable mother, grieving family, friends, and acquaintances, and most of all, questions. What happened? Why did it happen? Could it have been prevented after the accusations Denis made? As it turns out, several governmental organizations were already assigned to the family to mediate and watch over the boys. In the coming days, the case will be looked into thoroughly, but for now, the focus is on identification and community. Later today, the results of several tests to determine the identity of the boys will come in, and we will know for sure if Ruben and Julian have been found, but there is very little doubt left. People here are coming together in churches, they lay flowers at the school, meeting are held for all involved, and there might be a vigil later on, after the identification. I'm not sure about that last one yet.

There is nothing Hellenistic about this post, and I won't make it so. I just needed to write about this, about something that has been occupying my mind for nearly two weeks. The senselessness of the act, and the shock that a father would do something so horrible to his own sons are my primary reactions, next to grief for two--three--lives that never touched mine, but should not have ended when and how hey did. May Hermes Psychopompos have carried their souls swiftly into the Underworld, and may the Theoi prevent something like hi to ever happen again. This is a true tragedy, and it hits very close to home.

If that vigil is organized, I will attend. I want to stand with others in grief, in solidarity, in hope that this tragedy will prevent others from taking place. My thoughts go out to the mother of the boys, who must be going through hell. I wish so many things to change in this tragedy, but most of all, I wish for the Gods to lift the burden of grief from her.