New hope in murder cases thanks to tipsters Operation Identify Me
The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany - A week after the launch of Operation Identify Me important new information has been received in the search for the identity of deceased women. Police organizations in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands have received more than 200 tips, including names of victims for several cases. On Tuesday the 16th of May, a week after the launch, the police will take stock for the first time in Dutch police television program Opsporing Verzocht. The police organizations in the three countries and INTERPOL welcome the public’s participation so far and emphasize that more information is still needed.
On Wednesday, May 10th, Operation Identify Me, a global campaign to identify 22 deceased women was launched by the Bundeskriminalamt in Germany, the Federal Police in Belgium, the police in the Netherlands and INTERPOL. Since then, www.interpol.int/im lists 22 cases that can be viewed by the public. All the victims in the campaign are unidentified women and in most cases it is likely they were murdered.
The international call has, in just one week, already provided investigators with concrete leads. Police forces in the participating countries have already received dozens of possible useful tips including:
- 122 tips have been received for Germany.
- Belgium has now received 55 tips.
- The Netherlands now have 51 tips to follow.
The appeal has received an overwhelming amount of media attention, which is reflected in the information received so far. While some members of the public shared information about the potential origins of clothing or jewelry, others pointed to possible names of specific victims. Further investigation is needed on those names before there can be any conclusions on this. Tips have come from all over the world, which shows the importance of communicating globally on such cases.
All four organizations involved in the appeal thank the public for their engagement so far. Martin de Wit of the Dutch Police said: ‘We are extremely grateful for all the support and attention. We have heard from several experts from all over the world spontaneously offering their help. It is heartwarming to see how people are massively sharing the call online and continue to do so. The women in the campaign deserve to get their name back, and the information we are receiving now gives us hope for several cases. Every tip can make a difference for the next of kin of the victims.’
On tonight’s Dutch Police television program Opsporing Verzocht, police will take stock of the campaign for the first time. German detective Markus Weber will be present in the studio to provide insight on tips received. Forensic detective Carina van Leeuwen will also be present to provide an update on Dutch cases.
Investigators in the three participating countries are now analyzing the information received. Should this lead to the positive identification of one or several victims, the first priority will be to inform families.
Additionally, as the women are presumed to have been murdered, any identification will lead to criminal investigations. Depending on the nature of the investigation, it may take some time before any information is made public.
Encouraging people to share the appeal as widely as possible, the coordinator of INTERPOL’s DNA-unit, Susan Hitchin, said: ‘We continue to call for any piece of information that could help investigators connect the dots and remind the public that full case details, including photos and videos, are available for consultation on www.interpol.int/im.’
For biological relatives who believe one of the women could be their missing loved one, national police once contacted can liaise with INTERPOL for international DNA comparison. Since 2021 INTERPOL has been providing investigators with a new global tool, the I-Familia database, to help identify unknown bodies through international family DNA kinship matching.