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Belgian baby-killer 'an unusual mass-murderer' says expert

By Adriana Stuijt     Jan 25, 2009 in Crime
Self-confessed mass murderer Kim de Gelder, 20 who killed 2 baby boys and their carer, was an unusual mass-murderer,' Belgian advocate and expert on mass murderers Jef Vermassen says this man did not want to die: he wore a bulletproof vest.
"I have never heard of a mass-murderer like that wear a bullet-proof vest. He clearly did not want to die,' said Vermassen. "Nearly all the mass murderers in the past either commit suicide or let themselves be shot,' he told the Dutch-language VRT-TV programme The Seventh Day. See our previous report here
Kim de Gelder, 20, the man who confessed to the stabbings, meanwhile has gone on a hunger strike and was moved to the medical section of the Bruges jail. He is suicidal, police said. Police tried to question him there on Sunday, the Flemish daily Het Laatste Nieuws writes, but he refuses to talk.
More killings avoided:
From a list of addresses police found in the man's rucksack after his quick arrest, it is strongly suspected that he also may have been planning attacks on three other nurseries nearby, police said.
Mass murders can be expected more often:
Vermassen is one of Belgium's best-known advocates, and has compiled his experiences of the past 30 years of working with some 80 murderers and their victims in a book - in which he also warns that due to the growing culture of violence, as depicted on TV and in the movies, mass-murders like this can be expected to take place more and more. He donates the proceeds of his book to welfare projects. see Dutch-language website
Killer appears in court Tuesday:
Magistrates have meanwhile charged de Gelder - also described as 'very thin'' -- with the murder of two baby boys and a senior nurse at a creche on Friday, and the stabbing of ten babies and two adults, prosecutors say.
He has confessed to the bloodbath -- but remains silent otherwise. Survivors said the 54-year-old creche nurse reportedly had put up a fierce fight against the young knifeman during which he had stabbed her to death.
De Gelder -- his face painted black and white similar to that of The Joker character in the movie Batman -- was arrested very soon after the knife attacks, riding around on his bicycle.
Community anger growing about his silence:
From the chatter on local websites, it also becomes clear that the anger in the community is growing very intense, particularly because De Gelder refuses to say why he committed the bloodbath.
Police are keeping the suspect in a secure, secret location -- and security at his first court appearance on Tuesday also is expected to be tight: many local residents are expected to attend.
Oldest son of a middle-class family:
A little more personal information has meanwhile also emerged in the news media about the self-confessed killer. De Gelder had no previous convictions and no history of mental illness at all. He also was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The oldest of three children, he's from a upper-middle class family: his parents and grandparents live in 'fair-sized villas', according to the Flemish news media, and one of his uncles is a well-known doctor.
"Not a very obvious person...'
About a year earlier, the young man had apparently started working at the floral wholesaler Van Remoortel, 18km from the murder-creche. On his published photograph, lifted from his high school yearbook, he was shown as a cute-faced young man, wearing long locks. However by the time he had started his job a year ago and moved to an apartment in the new suburb of Wijnveld in Sinaai, a few kilometres from his parental home, he had cut off his hair. He lived there alone and 'was not a very obvious person', neighbours and colleagues all said. His upstairs neighbour said he 'saw him once in a while and we said hello but that was it'. Other neighbours can't even describe him.
Resigned several weeks before the attack:
A colleague at the floral wholesaler said he had resigned very suddenly several weeks earlier, just after another colleague he had built up a friendship with, had been fired from the distribution centre of the wholesaler.
"He often seemed disinterested, mumbling to himself, but we had no problems with him,' said another colleague. He got around only by bicycle. His colleagues described the Flemish man as being 'crazy about movies'.
Meanwhile, some 7,000 of Dendermonde's 43,000 residents walked in a silent march past the creche Fabeltjesland (Fairytale Land), where the mass-murders took place.see BBC TV report about the murders here
Dendermonde 's mayor Pieter Buyse also announced that the creche will not be reopened - ever.
"It's too confrontational for parents and personnel to have to go to this site of the massacre with their children again,' he said.
Sixteen kindergarten pupils shot dead:
Advocate Vermassen said that this shooting was somewhat similar to an incident in Scotland in 1996, where a fired youth leader had killed sixteen kindergarten pupils with 700 bullets - and then took his own life.
And De Gelder's silence also is rather more typical of mass-murderers' behaviour recorded in the past -- the Belgian killer had confessed but then refused to speak any more about it."This silence could relate to a feeling of superiority, of having made a a very clear choice,' Vermassen said.
Mayor Buyse also referred to the anger which was felt by the community over this young killer's determined silence. "It is very painful for local residents and the victims relatives alike, he said: "Everybody is asking the question, why? We want answers', he said.
No extra security:
He also believed that this incident was so extraordinary and unusual that it did not warrant extra security for the other child-care centres in his town. "It's being asked of me frequently. However I believe that this was a rare occasion, an exception, the deeds of an insane person,' Buyse said.
"If you try to take measures against every possibility, one must also start guarding supermarkets.
"The end result would be that every one of the 43,000 residents of Dendermonde would end up living inside their own prison to protect themselves from some insane person. We don't want to live in a world like that'.
Experts warn however that increased violence like this can be expected in the culture of violence which permeates present-day culture in the Western world.
TV-attendance surveys of European children note that by the age of 12, an average child has already seen some 6,000 murders on television, and movies such as Scream, Die Hard, Godzilla, the Terminator, Pokémon, the Gladiator, en War of the Worlds are all wrapped around just three subjects: violence, violent action and graphic sexuality.
Can violence be condoned if it's for a good cause?
And the 'reality' levels of such movies also are being raised constantly, adding to young children's confusion as to whether this is the real world, or just pretend, experts say. "The moral of such movies often is that one can always solve the world's problems with violence - you can force the world to do your bidding through violence or threats of violence. he moral is that 'violence can be used as long as it's for a good cause...'
In The Netherlands, primary school children view TV an average of two hours daily - and while the youngest children up to the age of eight show a preference for cartoons and children's films.However as they grow older, it is found that they gravitate towards films which are meant for much older viewers - films which often also are watched by their parents or older siblings, films with often very graphic and sexual content.
"And once this genie is out of the bottle, is very difficult to get back in,' child experts in The Netherlands believe.
"Children who aren't ready for the information at all, are expected to exercise sexual control when they hardly understand it, but see graphic scenes on TV. Children have little knowledge of the real world out there, and often experience films as if these are the real world.
"They believe that what they see is real, has actually happened. Parents often tell of their children becoming very frightened and getting night mares after specifically violent, graphic movies.'
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