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A.K.A.: "Het Beest van Harkstede" (The Beast from Harkstede)
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Rape - Mutilation
Number of victims: 5
Date of murders: 1971 - 2001
Date of arrest: November 12, 2001
Date of birth: August 13, 1941
Victims profile: Cora Mantel, 15 / Aaltje van der Plaat / Antoanella Bertholda Fatol, 23 / Annelies Reinders, 31 / Sasja Schenker, 34
Method of murder: Strangulation - Stabbing with knife
Location: Netherlands
Status: Sentenced to 18 years in prison in 1975. Released in 1990. Sentenced to life imprisonment on November 7, 2002

Willem van Eijk (born in Korteraar, 13 August 1941) is a convicted Dutch serial killer known as "Het Beest van Harkstede" (The Beast from Harkstede). He was twice convicted for a total of five murders.


Willem van Eijk was born in 1941 in the small village of Korteraar, South Holland. During his time on an elementary school in Ter Aar he was an outcast and referred to as "Gekke Willempie" (Crazy little William), something he later used to justify his actions. During this time of extreme bullying, van Eijk started to collect morbid items, like dead bugs and frogs. Soon he was well known inside the village for his cruelty towards animals, especially dogs, cats and ducks. At high school he was still a loner, and van Eijk ended up with petty crime. During this time he started to dream about raping and killing women.


  • Cora Mantel - In 1971 he picked up the 15-year-old Cora Mantel from Uithoorn. She had missed her bus ride home after meeting with her boyfriend in Amsterdam, and van Eijk found her hitchhiking along the road. He raped her and strangled her with her own shawl, before dumping her body in a ditch near Uithoorn. Her body was found on 22 June 1971. Because on the morning of the murder she was to start her new job, at a jewelry store in Aalsmeer, the jeweler was, for a short period of time, a suspect.

  • Aaltje van der Plaat - On 19 August 1974 the lifeless body of Aaltje van der Plaat was found near a road inside a cornfield. She had died from multiple stab wounds, her belly was ripped open and her left nipple was cut off. At the end of the road lived Willem van Eijk in a houseboat named De Vrijheid (The Freedom). Several witnesses had seen van Eijk drive on his moped, near the area where the body was found, on the evening of the murder. The police arrested van Eijk and straight off he confessed to the murders of Cora and Aaltje.

In 1975 van Eijk got sentenced to 18 years imprisonment and TBS. The details of the murders, that were revealed during the trial, were so horrifying that several judiciary guards had to throw up. Psychiatric reports explained that van Eijk has severe childhood traumas because of bullying and rejection by women. During his therapy in the Van Mesdagkliniek psychiatrists presumed his deviant behavior was the result of brain damage sustained during his birth. In 1980, when he was still in the clinic, he married his pen-friend Adri. In 1990 he was released and together they moved into a house in Harkstede. Psychiatrists believed that his relationship with Adri would keep him on the straight path; however, another rejection of a woman could result in repeating of murder. The relationship turned out to be a downward spiral for van Eijk.

  • Antoanella Bertholda (Michelle) Fatol - In November 1993 in a ditch near the village Enumatil the corpse of a 23-year-old prostitute was found. It turned out to be Michelle Fatol. During intimacy van Eijk strangled her with his bare hands.

  • Annelies Reinders - On 21 January 1995 the body of the 31-year-old prostitute Annelies Reinder was found in the Eemskanaal near Appingendam.

Between his release and his second arrest there were eight prostitutes, and several other young women murdered near the area where van Eijk lived. In 1997 van Eijk was a suspect for the murder of Anne de Ruyter de Wildt, and in 2000 for the murder on Marianne Vaatstra; however, DNA tests proved his innocence in these cases. Several years later both murderers of these two women were caught.

  • Sasja Schenker - On 17 July 2001 the lifeless naked body of the 34-year-old prostitute Sasja Schenker was found in the Slochterdiep near Harkstede. Her clothes were found several months later near van Eijk's house. They were found to be thrown in the canal, in a plastic bag, weighted with stones.

Because the clothes of Sasja were found near van Eijk's house, police soon suspected he was responsible. On 12 November 2001 police arrested van Eijk. He soon confessed to the murders of Michelle Fatol, Annelies Reinders and Sasja Schenker. Police also suspected him of the murders of Shirley Hereijgers, Antoinnette Bont and Jolanda Meijer; however, van Eijk did not confess to those, and there was no further evidence he was involved. With excavators the ground around his house was excavated; however, there were no bodies found. As of 2013, Jolanda Meijer is still missing.

Possible victims

Between 1993 and 2001 several other bodies were found. In 1995 the torso of 24-year-old prostitute Antoinette Bont was found in the Winschoterdiep. Other body parts were later found in a sports bag. Two years later, in 1997, the body of 19-year-old prostitute Shirley Hereijgers was found. Around the same time also friend and colleague Jolanda Meijer (35) disappeared. Several other men were suspected these killings, but all turned out to be innocent. Willem van Eijk never confessed to killing these women. However, it is publicly believed he is responsible.

Trial and sentence

At the start of the trial van Eijk was represented by lawyer Willem Anker, much to the astonishment of the relatives of Shirley Hereijgers, since Willem Anker also represented them. When van Eijk officially was suspected in murdering Shirley, Willem Anker dropped his client. After several new lawyers, van Eijk got sentenced, on 7 November 2002 to life imprisonment for the murder of the last three victims. Van Eijk appealed, but the Supreme Court of the Netherlands agreed with the sentence of the court. Van Eijk several times requested clemency, that in the Netherlands can only be given by the head of state, but all of the requests were denied.



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