Piet Hölskens (20) and Hans Martens (21), two road workers from Brabant, were last seen on March 16, 1974 before disappearing without a trace. After years of pain and searching, the families of these two young men may finally get some answers today, reports RTL Nieuws.
Jan Hölskens, a brother of Piet, was the last person to see him the night of Piet’s disappearance. Jan (now 74) was in a cafe just before closing time when Piet walked in with some colleagues. Just before Piet left the cafe, he remarked to his brother: “Jan, I’m leaving now, and when I come back I’ll have more money than you.”
At the time, Jan did not think much of this statement but realised later how strange it was. When Piet failed to return the next day and for a few days after, Jan was convinced he would return. But soon, Piet’s family could not stand the silence any longer and an investigation was launched.
Decades of dead ends
Police struggled for years to find any evidence of what happened to Piet and Hans. It was only in 2012 that an anonymous witness came forward. He claimed that on the night of their disappearance, the two men had been lured away and then murdered after an intense argument. Their bodies were apparently buried in Germany.
Based on this information, police interviewed a suspect in 2014 but he denied everything and the interview yielded nothing of value. The bodies remained undiscovered and police had reached another dead end.
The investigation revived
As the years ticked by, the family of Piet began to hear stories. Hans apparently had an affair with a married woman and was thus killed by her enraged husband. Piet allegedly witnessed the murder so had to be killed too. When Jan heard about this in 2017 he hired a private investigator.
The private investigator believed the bodies of the men lay at the bottom of a lake in the Brink. Police agreed that based on the few clues they had, this seemed likely, despite a search of the lake in 2018 which found nothing.
A buried car?
Piet’s red Fiat Coupe 850 also disappeared in 1974 and was the car that the men left the cafe in. Metal detectors found a large metal object beneath the sand of the lake which could potentially be his missing car. Police recently began a project to extract the metal objects from beneath the lake bed.
“First the situation underwater must be made stable,” they said. “Then the top layer of sand is dug away until the top of the object is exposed in the water. Then it can be assessed by divers and with cameras whether it is the friends’ car…”
If indeed this is the car, and the bodies of Piet and Hans are discovered within it, the families of the young men may finally find some closure.
A hard pill to swallow, however, may be that if the case does turn out to be a murder, police have no power to convict any suspects. Murders that were committed before 1988 cannot be prosecuted due to an old law which barred murder convictions after 18 years.
This law was amended in 2006 and murders that are committed now cannot be barred. However, there was a transition phase which meant murders before 1988 would remain barred, including the possible murder of Piet and Hans.
“I don’t understand,” Jan said. “If I drive too fast, I get a ticket and I have to pay. If I don’t, it will be doubled. If someone has committed murder, the penalty will be waived.” The family have been protesting the law and have started a petition to end the barring of murders before 1988.
At least now, closure may finally be in the cards for Jan and his family.
Have you been following the investigation of Piet and Hans’ disappearance over the years? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Feature Image: Politie Nederlands