THE body of a nine-year-old boy was found in the garden of an abandoned house in the Netherlands after an alleged paedophile indicated to police where to find the missing child.
Gino van der Straeten was reported missing on Wednesday 1 June as he played football in a playground in the Dutch city of Kerkrade.
Gino's 32-year-old sister, who he had been staying with, raised the alarm when the little boy didn't come home.
Witnesses said they saw children and a man playing football at the playground around the time Gino disappeared, police said.
His disappearance led hundreds of locals to scour the area in search of him, but only his scooter was found near a swimming pool in Landgraaf – some three miles from the playground where Gino went missing.
Pieces of Gino's clothing were also found nearby, leading to Dutch police locating the suspect in Geleen, about 18 miles away from where Gino was staying.
The adult male, who was described by police as "suspected of possible involvement in the disappearance", was arrested on the night of Friday to Saturday.
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Sadly, police have now confirmed they found the little boy's body in an abandoned garden after the 22-year-old suspect told them where the body could be found.
"That led to a suspect on Friday afternoon. We found Gino's body from information given by the suspect," Xander Beenhakkers, of the Dutch police, said.
The suspect, believed to be Geleen resident Donny M. according to local broadcaster 1Limburg, has a prior criminal record, police said.
Police have yet to confirm the suspect's identity.
Local media have described Gino as the presumed victim of a paedophile sex crime.
"We feared the worst scenario in recent days," the mayor of Kerkrade, Petra Dassen-Housen, said in a press conference.
"Many held out hope, searched and sympathised. It is intensely bitter that Gino's body was found in our Geleen community."
The mayor described the discovery as "a terrible blow to the family," and added, "Words fail me. An intense sadness overwhelms us."
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Gino's family issued the following statement: "Unfortunately, the police found Gino's lifeless body on Saturday.
"The grief is incomprehensible and terrible.
"The police will now continue the investigation, and will execute it with care, and prioritise finding out what happened and who was involved.
"Gino must never be forgotten and must be remembered as beautifully and as the sweet cheerful boy he was as best as possible," the family added.
Little Gino, who lived in Maastricht, had been staying with his sister in Kerkrade because his mother was ill, and he could not stay with her.
A forensic team has been investigating two crime scenes in the town where Gino's body was found, including the suspect's home and the abandoned home behind which the nine-year-old was found.
The main suspect will face further interrogations over the kidnapping and death of the little boy.
He remains in restricted custody and is only permitted contact with his legal representation.
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