The painted face of the alleged Belgian killer has been drawn by an eyewitness and has now been published. His face and name have now also been revealed (new update for 01.25.09 below).
This drawing was made based on data provided by Rudi Brusselmans who was a witness of the arrest of the crèche attack suspect now being held. (See here for more details on the attack.) The attack happened in the "Fairytale-land" or "Fabeltjesland" creche or daycare.
More comparisons with the Joker have surfaced in the Belgian media.
Correctly, the press there is noting that although the alleged attacker's face was painted white and his eyes were made black, and his distinctive pink/red hair was cut in spikes, "as if he had cut his hair himself," his mouth was apparently not painted, as was Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight.
Incorrectly, the European media said that the day (January 23, 2009) of the Dendermonde crèche or daycare attack was on the same date as the death of Heath Ledger. The first anniversary of Ledger's death, however, was January 22, 2009. To be exact, Heath Ledger was declared dead at 3:36 pm Eastern DST in Manhattan, New York, on January 22, 2009, and hit the news that night and the next morning. The attack on the nursery occurred at 10:00 a.m. CET (9:00 a.m. UTC) on January 23, 2009.
Nevertheless, there appears to be strong evidence the Dendermonde Joker reflects the copycat effect in this instance.
A police officer confirmed: “He had his face painted like Heath Ledger playing The Joker.”
The comparisons are clearcut in terms of mode of violence (knives), outward appearance, and even the arrest behavior. For example, in a headline and subheadline published on Saturday, January 24th, in the UK's Telegraph, the copycat imagery is summed up:
"Belgium 'joker' creche killer snorted with laughter in police interrogation: Belgium's suspected 'joker' killer snorted with laughter when interrogated by police about a frenzied knife attack that left a woman and two babies, aged six months and nine months, dead."The two infant victims of the attack on a creche in the Belgian town of Dendermonde on Friday, January 23, 2009, have been named as Leon a baby boy aged six months and Corneel, a girl aged nine months.
Marita Blindeman, the 54 year old childcare worker who was killed, raised the alarm before being killed.
Police and prosecution sources have said that the 20-year-old man, dubbed "the Joker" because of his painted white face, eye shadow and ginger hair, has no history of mental illness.
He tricked his way into the Fabeltjesland ("land of fairy stories") day care center at 10 am local time by claiming to have a meeting with one of the members of staff. He then drew a 12-inch-long knife and began to slash at children aged between a few months and two years old.
There were 21 infants in the creche and six supervisors. All of the victims were stabbed in the throat or head. Parents gathered in the Dendermonde town hall and, with psychologists in support, identified the victims using photographs.
The addresses of three daycare locations were found on the suspect ("Kim D") when he was arrested.
Update Sunday, January 25, 2009:
The alleged attacker, now under arrest, and his victims have been fully identified.
The man in custody for the stabbings is Kim de Gelder, 20, originally of Sint Niklaas (= Saint Nicholas), which is eight miles from Dendermonde. His colleagues described the Flemish man as being "crazy about movies."
De Gelder would translate, in English, as "the gelder" = "one who gelds or castrates." But there appears to be an alternative explanation for the name in Belgian (see the comments below), which is related to the word for "gold."
The Church of Saint Nicholas was founded in the 13th century and gave its name to de Gelder's former hometown. The history of Sint-Niklaas proper starts in 1217, when the bishop of Tournai, following advice from the local clergy, founded the church to Saint Nicholas there. The city keeps seven giants: Janneken, Mieke, Santa Claus and Zwarte Piet, and the three Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar.
Sinterklaas (also called Sint-Nicolaas or De Goedheiligman in Dutch and Saint Nicolas in French) is a traditional Winter holiday figure in the Netherlands, Aruba, Netherlands Antilles and Belgium, celebrated every year on Saint Nicholas' eve, December 5, or, in Belgium, on the morning of December 6. (Ah, the day after, just as the attack in Belgium was the day after Heath Ledger/The Joker's death day.) The feast celebrates the name day of Saint Nicholas, patron saint of, among other things, needless to say, children.
The young victims of Dendermonde's ("Rumble or Thunder World's") Fabeltjesland ("Fairytale Land") were nine-month-old Leon Garcia and six-month-old Corneel Vermeir. Marita Blindeman, 54, a daycare worker lost her life attempting to save others.
See comments below for a discussion of what "Fabeltjesland" may or may not mean.
The Belgian and Dutch media and the UK's Telegraph began publishing the photograph of the suspect on January 24-25, 2009. The image being published is the high school year book picture of self-confessed mass-murderer Kim de Gelder. Reports indicate that he cut his hair short soon after finishing high school.
De Gelder is on suicide watch in his undisclosed location in Bruges, Belgium. He has gone on a hunger strike and was moved to the medical section of the Bruges jail.
Sunday media report that "some 7,000 of Dendermonde's 43,000 residents walked in a silent march past the creche Fabeltjesland (Fairytale Land)."