According to Belgian authorities, a 37-year-old man who claimed his elementary school teacher humiliated him confessed to stabbing her to death three decades later.
Gunter Uwents told detectives that he had never recovered from his alleged encounter with Maria Verlinden, 59, when he was seven years old in the 1990s.
When he paid her a visit in November 2020 in the hamlet of Noorderwijk, near Antwerp, he stated he had lost control. She died in her kitchen after being stabbed 101 times.
Verlinden was a fervent Christian with a track record of assisting the destitute.
Despite obtaining hundreds of DNA samples to try to discover the perpetrator, the crime had gone unsolved for 16 months. Her spouse put out a public call for help.
Her handbag, which contained cash, was found intact close to her body on the dining table, indicating that she had not been the victim of a violent robbery.
According to prosecutors, Uwents acknowledged to the crime to a friend in March of last year, who then informed the authorities. On Sunday, he was apprehended.
Uwents has submitted a DNA sample, which will be matched to traces discovered at the crime site. He was bound to be swept up in the DNA sample dragnet as a former student.
Lut Verlinden, 62, the victim’s sister, who also taught Uwents in the 1990s, told Het Nieuwsblad: “We are all confused. I have contacted all former colleagues with whom Gunter was in class, but no one can remember an incident between him and Maria.
“Gunter was always a quiet, introverted boy. There was nothing more to say about him. His parents are also very good Catholic people. I feel sorry for them, because they will never dare to show themselves in Noorderwijk again, I’m afraid.”
According to local media, Uwents told detectives that as a child he had been “bullied, humiliated and belittled” by classmates and that his teacher had ignored him.
“When I raised my hand, she always pointed out someone else to answer – never me,” he told police according to one account. “And that made me very unhappy.”
Uwents said he went to his victim’s residence “for a pleasant discussion,” but she laughed at him and rejected him as a “dork.” He also stated that he did not bring a knife to the residence. The murder weapon has yet to be discovered by police.
Uwents supplied “extensive justifications” for his actions, according to the local prosecutor’s office, which amounted to a confession.
On Tuesday, Uwents appeared in front of a judge and was taken into jail on a murder accusation.